ECS GF7100PVT-M Review
Reviewed by: Makaveli
Reviewed on: February 25, 2008
Price: $64.99 USD
For some users, having a top-of-the-line motherboard that supports SLi or Crossfire is just not necessary. And for others, a motherboard that has onboard graphics is more than enough for the games they play. For those people, Elite Computer Systems has come out with a new MicroATX motherboard that has the nVidia 7100 chipset with onboard video. The small size of MicroATX motherboards is perfect for users who have small cases or HTPC cases. But with a motherboard so small, there is probably a lack of features, compared to a full-sized ATX motherboard, right? Wrong. Not only does this ECS GF7100PVT-M have the nVidia 7100 chipset, it also has an onboard DVI output connector – something I’ve never seen on a motherboard. Is this inexpensive ECS GF7100PVT-M MicroATX motherboard a must-have? Join me as I thoroughly investigate.
The ECS GF7100PVT-M comes packaged in a small box with its features proudly displayed on either side. I’ve always liked how ECS includes a very descriptive breakdown of its motherboards on the back of the boxes.
The motherboard is packaged in the standard anti-static bag and has a cardboard piece holding it into place with most of the accessories laying on top. The ECS GF7100PVT-M comes with the rear I/O shield, a SATA cable, IDE cable, DVI-to-HDMI converter, an instruction manual, a driver CD, and a hardware installation guide.
Now let’s take a look at the ECS GF7100PVT-M MicroATX motherboard up close to see what’s on the board.
The ECS GF7100PVT-M measures in at the standard 244mm x 244mm MicroATX size. As mentioned earlier, the board has the nVidia 7100/630i chipset. The board supports 1333MHz FSB, up to 4GB of DDR2 800 memory, and new 45nm processors.
The rear I/O panel has the standard connectors with an addition of a DVI-out port. This is very convenient because DVI video quality is better than the standard VGA. Along with the DVI connector, there is a standard VGA connector, four USB connectors, a serial port, PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports, a standard Giga LAN connector, and 8 channel audio.
This motherboard features one PCI-Express x16 slot, two PCI slots, and one PCI-Express x1 slot. Below the PCI slots, you’ll find an audio header and three USB headers lined up next to one another.
The ECS GF7100PVT-M has a 24-pin power connector, as well as a 4-pin power connector that sits near the CPU. This motherboard has one IDE connector, one floppy connector, and two 240-pin DDR2 memory slots that together can support up to 4GB of RAM.
Let’s move on and take a closer look at the BIOS for this ECS GF7100PVT-M MicroATX motherboard.
On previous MicroATX motherboards that I've owned, the BIOS usually isn't stuffed with options and particularly lack overclocking abilities. Hopefully, it'll be different with this ECS MicroATX motherboard.
This motherboard uses the American Megatrends, Inc. BIOS. Let's take a closer look!
Standard CMOS Setup:
Under this first tab, you'll find the date, time, and listed hardware you have attached to the motherboard.
This tab is where you'll want to go to change your boot order and some CPU settings, such as enabling or disabling C1E.
Advanced Chipset Setup:
You'll find the options to change your memory timings and other memory-related things here. I was disappointed to find no memory voltage control.
Here the user can change their onboard SATA, RAID, and IDE controllers.
Power Management Setup:
Under this tab, you'll be able to set up how you want your computer to be suspended and resumed.
You can configure the interrupt requests between the two PCI slots here.
PC Health Status:
This tab is where you can monitor your system's temperatures, select a shutdown temperature for your CPU, and more.
This section clearly shows that this motherboard is not built to be overclocked very far. You cannot set the CPU voltage, only DIMM voltage. You can change the FSB up to 1333MHz, which for this Intel Q6600 2.4GHz processor will be about 3.0GHz.
Now let's pop in the driver CD and get this motherboard configured!
To install the drivers for this ECS motherboard, just insert the included disc after you've installed your operating system. This very basic software allows you to either install everything at once, browse the CD, or get help. I always install everything just to be safe and to ensure that I don't miss anything important to install.
Since this board has an nVidia chipset, it makes sense that you need to install everything from nVidia to make sure that your motherboard works as prescribed.
Let's hurry up and test this thing already!
Rear Panel I/O
Internal I/O Connectors & Headers
- Windows Vista Ready
- Core 2 Duo/Core 2 Quad Support
- 64-bit Support
- FSB 1333MHz
- Socket LGA 775
- Giga LAN
- 8 Channel High Definition Audio
- SPDIF Out
- DVI Output
- Serial-ATA 2
-All information sourced from ECS's website: http://www.ecsusa.com/ECSWebSite/Products/ProductsDetail.aspx?detailid=839&CategoryID=1&DetailName=Feature&MenuID=44&LanID=9
This ECS GF7100PVT-M MicroATX motherboard is equipped with onboard video. Therefore, I'm going to be testing this motherboard without a video card and with a video card. I used the DVI-out port on the motherboard instead of the VGA port. To get a better idea for how this motherboard compares to some of today's motherboards, I'll be comparing it to the Foxconn Mars. Both of the motherboards were compared with the same equipment so that the playing field was level.
- Processor: Intel Q6600 Core 2 Quad 266x9
- Motherboard: ECS GF7100PVT-M
- Memory: Mushkin XP2 6400 2x2GB 4-4-4-12
- Video Card: Gigabyte 8800GT Turbo Force Edition
- Power Supply: Ultra X3 800watt Power Supply
- Hard Drive: 2 x Seagate 500GB SATA
- Opticals: Sony Dual Layer Burner
- O/S: Windows Vista Ultimate Edition
- Comparison Motherboard: Foxconn Mars
- Processor: Intel Q6600 333 x 9
- Sytem Memory: Mushkin XP2 6400 4-4-4-12
As stated previously, the BIOS equipped with this motherboard had no voltage control for the CPU and no multiplier change; only pre-determined FSB was available. I chose the highest rated FSB that this motherboard supports and that was 1333MHz, which when paired with a stock multiplier of 9, brought the CPU's clock speed to 3.0GHz. Being the huge overclocker that I am, I was very disappointed that this was the furthest I could push this motherboard.
- Scientific & Data:
- SpecviewPerf 10
- PCMark Vantage Professional
- Sandra XII
- ScienceMark 2.02 Final
- Cinebench 10
- HD Tune 2.54
- Knights of the Sea
- Call of Duty 4
- World in Conflict
- Call of Jaurez
- 3DMark 06 Professional
We're going to start off with the system specific benchmarks.
Apophysis is up first. The program is used to render fractal images and records the time it takes to render. Below are the settings that we used:
- Resolution: 2750x2048
- Quality: 500
- Limit Memory use: 512MB
The results are in minutes to complete; lower is better.
In WinRAR we use 10MB, 100MB and 500MB files and record the time that it takes to compress these files. The results are in seconds; lower is better.
Everything here looked neck-and-neck.
SPECview 10 is a benchmark we use to test the system's OpenGL performance. I'll be running the multi-threaded tests to measure the performance in the tests listed below. Higher scores are desired in these tests.
PCMark Vantage is a new benchmarking utility from Futuremark that tests complete system performance. I'll be running the system suite and recording the overall scores; higher is better.
The ECS fluctuated by doing well in some of the benchmarks and then not doing well in others.
SiSoft Sandra is a complete synthetic benchmarking program and diagnostic utility. I will be running multiple benchmarks from this program to get a better idea for what this ECS MicroATX motherboard can do.
Cache and Memory
Power Management Efficiency
The ECS GF7100PVT-M did really well in some tests and in others it did mediocre.
Sciencemark allows us to test real world performance, which is a nice change from the synthetic benchmarks. We ran this benchmark and recorded the overall score achieved by each motherboard.
Higher is Better
Cinebench is quite useful for testing your CPU, OpenGL capabilities, and your system. Cinebench uses the software program called CINEMA 4D.
Higher is Better
HD Tune allows the user to view and measure the performance of their hard disk(s).
Higher is Better
Lower is Better
In the Cinebench test, the ECS board stood out ahead of the others. Even with a slight overclock, the board does much better than when it's at stock.
Crysis is a very new and very popular game. Crysis is one of the most demanding games on the market today. I'll be running the included GPU benchmark.
- 2x Anti-Aliasing
- Advanced settings to medium
This motherboard from ECS did well when it was paired with an 8800GT.
PT Boats: Knights of the Sea is a rather new game that features the all new DirectX10 and its own graphics engine. This realistic game is hard to peel away from!
The settings we will use are below:
- AA: x0
- Image Quality: High
- Direct X Version: 10
- All resolutions 60Hz
Nothing out of the norm here in these results.
BioShock is a fairly new title that can be quite cruel to a system because of its demanding graphics.
- All settings to Maximum
- V-Sync off
The 8800GT allowed this board to achieve a high average FPS in this intense game.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is the latest installment in the Call of Duty series. This installment is by far my favorite Call of Duty game that I've played so far. I will be running FRAPS 2.9.3 to test for the average FPS during the course that we at OverclockersClub.com run.
The settings used are listed below:
- Anti-aliasing: x4
- Anistropic Filtering : Max
- Texture Quality: Extra
- All settings Max
The ECS board came out on top in every resolution in Call of Duty 4.
World In Conflict is a new title that features DirectX10. This is a real time strategy game that allows the user to play through some devastating scenarios.
The settings we will use are listed below:
- 0 X AA
- 16X AF
- Graphic Detail: Very High
In the latter resolutions, all the motherboards performed almost exactly the same.
Call of Juarez is a Wild Wild West first-person shooter that uses DirectX10. The game can take quite a toll on most video cards on the market today.
The settings we will use are listed below.
- Details: High
- Shadowmap size: 2048 x 2048
- Shadow Quality: Normal
- Anti Aliasing: MSAA 4X
Everything seemed to be just about neck-and-neck in this particular game.
Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts is the latest chapter for the Company of Heroes series. This game's breathtaking graphics make it tough to pull away from.
- 8x AA
- All other settings to maximum
3DMark06 is one of the most popular system benchmarking programs out today. I've come to find that you're a lot cooler if your score is higher.
- SM2.0 Graphics Tests: GT1- Return to Proxycon, GT2- Firefly Forest
- CPU Tests: Cpu1- Red Valley, CPU2- Red Valley
- HDR/SM3.0 Graphics Tests: HDR1- Canyon Flight, HDR2- Deep Freeze
Well there you have it! The ECS GF7100PVT-M made the cut with the 8800GT paired up with it.
You'll notice that we didn't have any scores from the onboard video of this ECS GF7100PVT-M motherboard. That's because it could not handle our extremely demanding suite of new and popular games. However, we did test it with movies and simple video and it worked perfectly! That showed us that this motherboard was molded for an HTPC; not a gaming PC.
So, what can we conclude about this motherboard? Well, it's a sure thing that this board isn't made for overclocking. We also know that the onboard video isn't made for today's hottest games and high resolutions. But this motherboard did perform well against the Foxconn, which was shocking to say the least. The difference between other MicroATX motherboards and this ECS GF7100PVT-M is that this ECS motherboard is half the price of the Foxconn and simliar X38 boards.
This motherboard seems to be a perfect fit for an HTPC because you don't really need a video card to watch movies on TVs since the resolutions aren't that high. Also, the HD onboard audio was perfect while I watched Bad Boys II. That was definitely a plus in my book since it's hard to find decent onboard sound these days. I'd definitely recommend this motherboard to anyone looking for an inexpensive, high quality, and a decent all around motherboard. This motherboard gets the job done, especially when it's paired with a video card, such as an 8800GT. However, this motherboard's onboard video really isn't ideal for gaming and the board isn't designed for overclocking. If you don't need to play the top-of-the-line video games or have the most extreme overclock, this motherboard is most definitely what you're looking for.
- DVI Output
- Onboard Video for Watching HD Content
- DVI-to-HDMI Adapter for HD Content
- Excellent HD Audio Output
- Overclocking Capabilities (Personal Opinion)
- Onboard Video Performance in Games (Again Personal Opinion this board is not geared towards a gaming board)