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ECS HDC-I Review

Indybird    -   July 17, 2011
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Conclusion:

In an evermore crowded media center market, it is surprising to see products that still offer unique features and feature sets. The ECS HDC-I is unique because it has nearly all the features you would want in a media motherboard. The most interesting inclusion was that of an integrated Bluetooth dongle. This allows you to use Bluetooth wireless mice or keyboards and allows you to sync with your phone, if you so chose. The Mini PCI-Express is also an uncommon, but definitely welcomed addition. Though it is designed for the included Wi-Fi card (more on that shortly), this allows you to install other devices, such as solid-state drives or add-in connector cards. A little more standard, but still welcomed feature, is the PCI Express X16 slot. This further adds to the expansion capabilities of the HDC-I because PCI-E graphics, sound, RAID, and other add-in cards are now available. In the connectivity department we have plenty of USB 3.0 and SATA 3.0 connections. Although these are fast becoming standard equipment on most motherboards, they are still missing from many cheaper, low-power or compact motherboards such as this one. The inclusion of the SATA 3.0 but lack of built-in RAID options is unfortunate, but not a deal-breaker because of the rising popularity of solid-state drives for speed, and cloud storage for reliability.

Performance-wise the HDC-I proved to be more than adequate. It out-performed the basic CPU-only or GPU-only benchmarks, such as decompressing ZIP files or low-resolution gaming. Aside from the benchmarks, I found everyday tasks, such as 1080p HD video-streaming and multitasking, to run without a hitch. Where the HDC-I fell behind the comparison boards was in the heavier benchmarks. Even though most of the comparison boards in these tests did not perform desirably, they still fared slightly better. Out of all the boards tested, the HDC-I was most in need of CPU and GPU overclocking. The omission of this is truly surprising in such a feature-packed board. This doesn't make or break this board because where most Mini-ITX media boards focus only on system performance, the HDC-I goes for the medium performance, but feature-packed design. The processing power of the CPU and GPU are enough to perform all the tasks a modern media center set-top box would need. Where it really shines is in its connectivity; it not only has plenty of the standard connections, but it also introduces less common but extremely useful ones, such as Bluetooth and an internal Mini PCI-E. If you are looking to build an HD media box or a low-power PC without sacrificing connectivity and expandability, then the ECS HDC-I is one of the best motherboard options currently in this market.

 

Pros:

  • Fast Processor
  • HD-Capable Graphics
  • Built-in Bluetooth
  • PCI-Express x16
  • Mini PCI Express
  • Included Wi-Fi
  • Quiet Fan
  • Low-Power
  • DDR3 DIMMs
  • USB 3.0
  • SATA 3.0

 

Cons:

  • No CPU or GPU overclocking
  • No RAID
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