ECS A970M-A Deluxe Motherboard Reviewformerstaff -
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ECS A970M-A Introduction
Last week we took a look at ECS Elite Group's Golden Version of their FM2 Trinity motherboard platform. Today we have a budget oriented solution for the AM3/AM3+ and FX line of AMD processors. The preferred chipset for the enthusiast and heavy overclocker is, and has been, the 990X/FX Chipset. Usually in the range as twice as much price wise, as you might suspect , you are paying for more PCIe lanes/bandwidth, usually a few more phases and/or beefier VRM, more and flexible ways to attain that epic overclock, and the extra bells and whistles that go with it all including a couple more SATA ports. There is a more cost-friendly nest for your AM3+ CPU however, and that is what we have on the bench here today. Much like the ECS FM2 solution I had the chance to bring you last week, this AM3/AM3+ solution is populated with golden accouterments both for the eyeballs' pleasure and the logistics of connectivity. The AMD 970 chipset boards don't garner near the fanfare and accolades of their high-end brethren, so you may not have had the chance to see anything of much depth on them. The ECS A970M-A Deluxe will not require you to break out the dent puller for your wallet, so sit back and have a look at this low cost and high feature home for your AMD processor.
For those not familiar with, or have traditionally looked past ESC when selecting components, a very brief history is in order.
ECS Elite Group is located in Taipei Neihu Technology Park, and was established in 1987. It's a manufacturer of not only motherboards, but notebooks, graphic cards, and a host of mobile devices. Over the years, ECS has been the first to market with many products including the first dual processor Pentium motherboard in 1996 and the first 64-bit motherboard in 1992. In 2002, ECS surpassed the two million unit-per-month milestone in motherboard sales. It's time to get our gold on and have a look at the ECS A970M-A (Black Deluxe).
ECS A970M-A Closer Look
The ECS A970M-A is packaged in a relatively modest retail pack by todays standards, with no multi-level box scheme or Velcro tabs holding down thick flaps that reveal windows (or are they drool guards?). The A970M-A is an smaller, efficiently packed black handled box that lacks glitter and gets straight to the point.
As with other ECS motherboards, a fair bit of space is dedicated to making sure that the consumer knows they use 3 x the gold in the manufacturing of their boards and extolling the virtues of the more efficient conductivity, both thermal and electrical. The gold is used in places around the board such as pin contact, PCIe slots, and DIMM contacts. For the eyeball and side window gazing, there is plenty of aesthetic gold placement as well.
Popping the top we see the gold highlights from outside the prerequisite anti-static protective bag. Amongst the anodized pieces is something a bit different than I have worked with thus far: a feature that ECS has dubbed the 'ECS Anti Dust Shield'. I will have more on that here in a bit. It seems that the disclaimer you have seen in every motherboard manual ever printed that reads "exact motherboard layout is subject to change without notice" has been exercised here. The board pictured on the box seems to have a previous version pictured with a different northbridge heatsink and the lack of the ADS or Anti Dust Shield. Let's let the kitty out of the burlap and find out what is actually inside the black box.
The included accessory bundle is rather standard fare for a board in this price range. Included are five SATA cables that cover all of the on-board SATA ports (a nice feature), a very plain looking rear I/O plate, a full manual and system utility disc, and lastly a full color poster style folded illustrated setup guide. Along the top of the box is a lineup of supported hardware and software from the latest FX series processors to THX sound.
The ECS A970M-A Looks to be one of the more interesting 970 outfitted boards out there. Time to go round that black PCB and see what ECS has assembled here for the AM3+ user who may not need all of the 990FX features.