ECS A970M-A Deluxe Motherboard Reviewformerstaff -
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ECS A970M-A Closer Look:
ECS Elite Group uses its implementation of the modern BIOS named "EZ" BIOS. EZ BIOS is a graphical interface BIOS that has both a very simplified mode and a more advanced mode for the enthusiast. In Easy mode you have a one page look at the current settings and the ability to make changes amongst four basic modes: Normal, Performance, Power, and Quiet. Along the bottom of the screen you can drop and drag the various bootable drives into the sequence you want and be done with things after a check of basic voltages and fan speeds. To enter the Advanced version of EZ BIOS you simply click the green advanced tab to reveal the expanded and more versatile version. My apologies in advance for the images of the BIOS here. The ECS BIOS does not have a screen capture feature and for some reason it was extraordinarily hard to photograph.
Under the Main tab you will find the basic system CMOS functions of system time, date, and language.
The Advanced tab gives you a look at basic CPU configuration including CPU model with graphics core and stock frequency. You also get a listing of all of the cache levels and capacities. For those new to the Trinity A-Series APUs, the "no L3 Cache present" is not a mistake. The Trinity is an L3-less version of the Piledriver core. Below this are the adjustments for the AMD power saving features including C6, Turbo Core, and AMD Cool & Quiet. Also under advanced are adjustments for the serial port I/O configuration. The advanced tab is also where you set up your SATA configuration for either SATA, IDE, or RAID as well as checking on all detected drives.
Under the Chipset tab are the Northbridge and Southbridge adjustments. Here you have the ability to adjust the IGD memory manually and the graphics adapter initialization.
For those wanting to squeeze out maximum performance from their A-Series APU, the M.I.B.X. (Motherboard Intelligent BIOS X) tab is where the fun begins. Under M.I.B.X. is where you find the vast majority of the unlocking, under/overvolting, and re-timing settings and sub-menus. At the top of the menu is the core clock multiplier and memory clock. Under this menu you can leave the BIOS to manually set the memory clock and open up the manual timings and sub-timings. The bottom third of the menu is the adjustments for over/under volting for both the CPU, FCH, and the memory.
The Boot portion of the BIOS has all the options you need to choose and manipulate your bootable drives into the order you want them in. At the top of the menu you can change the OS the system boots to for those with dual Operating Systems. At the bottom of the menu are the options for the hard drive boot priorities as well as the optical drives.
The Security tab lets you set up administrator and user passwords. You can also set up a secure boot state, disable it, or set a custom boot state.
The Exit tab has all of the options for saving or disregarding changes before exiting. Here you can restore user defaults as well as save them. You can also do a Boot override of your devices and return to EZ mode if you wish.
The A970M-A BIOS is a bit more simple than the last few A85X boards I have seen. This simplicity is partly due to the ECS board not being equipped with digital power, which adds a fair bit more options to the menu. It is, however, effective and very intuitive for most users, and I had a good experience using it.