ECS Black Series A990FXM-A ReviewnVidia_Freak - September 11, 2011
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Included with ECS's A990FXM-A is a DVD that includes drivers for various components on the motherboard as well as a few select programs. Once taken to the main menu after inserting the DVD, one is greeted with a little program ECS calls its Setup Utility. The 'Driver' tab is the home tab and allows the installation of the drivers needed for the board. Pressing 'Setup' performs a 'silent' installation of all the needed drivers, meaning that one click is all that's needed to get things going. Optionally, for those that prefer to install drivers manually, or would like to select which to install and which to not, one can browse through the disc and manually install them via Device Manager. Drivers for the 990FX chipset, Realtek's gigabit ethernets, Marvel's eSATA3 controller, ASMedia's USB3 controller, and the Bluetooth receiver are included. ECS also includes a set of programs and utilities. Some are their own proprietary programs for this motherboard, which I'll get into shortly, and two are for basic functionality. ECS includes Adobe's free PDF Reader and Norton Internet Security 2011. Although many enthusiasts will likely ignore these programs in favor of possibly free, better alternatives; particularly for an AV choice, be aware that 60 days are included free of charge with Norton Internet Security 2011. Food for thought.
ECS includes a variety of its own system performance-based programs to make tweaking and updating easier for the end user. From overclocking to UEFI updates, they can do it all. These programs are names of three or four letter acronyms, none of which are clarified, though some are obvious. Up first is eBLU, which likely stands for 'ecs BIOS Live Update' or some such thing. eBLU lets one quickly check if the UEFI for one's ECS motherboard is up to date. If one is available, clicking the 'Install' button will download and install the updated UEFI and install it, after which a reboot is required. The UEFI version that shipped with this review sample was several months out of date and installing the newest one was no issue at all.
eDLU or Driver Live Update is not so much a program as much as it is a hyperlink with a GUI. Clicking the 'Start' button brings one to ECS's webpage for the motherboard in question and directs one to the drivers section. The idea is that ECS will keep the drivers for the various controllers on the motherboard up to do date so that one doesn't need to run around to six or seven different places to get drivers. Unfortunately, several of the drivers already have one or more updated versions available on their own websites. This has the potential to be something nice, but ECS has to work to keep the driver downloads up to date at all times.
eOC is ECS's Windows based overclocking utility. Two modes, 'Easy' and 'Advanced' are available, each with its own options. 'Easy' mode only allows the adjustment of the CPU bus and no adjustments of voltage values for the processor, chipset, or RAM. In 'Advanced' mode these values can be changed and applied. After clicking the 'Apply' button, several seconds will pass before the settings are activated. Unfortunately, this doesn't always work, and the program seems to prefer small jumps over large ones. System hangs and outright hard resets were not uncommon in my trials with eOC. That said, when it does work it works well enough. Once one arrives at one's desired settings, they can be saved to an eOC profile and be set to load at startup or when the program is launched. A timer can also be used if one wants a chance to void the settings before they take effect. A quick click will also take one to ECS's website to check for an updated version of the eOC utility, of which there is already one available.
eSF is a software fan controller utility for use with fans plugged into the motherboard's CPU and SYSTEM fan headers. Several built-in profiles are available to provide various amounts of air flow and noise. Additionally, a custom mode is available should none of the included profiles satisfy your cooling or noise requirements.
eGS is ECS's power-saving utility that further compliments or can be used in place of AMD's own Cool 'n' Quiet. Automatic mode is selected by default to underclock the processor as is necessary by system load. Selecting normal mode will run the processor at its configured speed regardless of load, and the green mode will run the processor at its selected reduced speed regardless of load. Green mode also offers settings for the hard drive and monitor. I don't quite see the use in this program since these features are things available in the UEFI/BIOS and in Windows and can be set with ease. Furthermore, the underclocking control setting merely effect the bus frequency, and not the multiplier, which Cool 'n' Quiet will. Green is good, but this is simply redundant.