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ECS L337 GANK Domination Z87H3-AX Golden Review

RHKCommander959    -   December 15, 2013
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ECS L337 GANK Domination Z87H3-AX Golden Conclusion:

The ECS L337 GANK Domination Z87H3-AX Golden is a fancy high end attempt by ECS. Almost everything is gold or silver in color. From a hardware standpoint everything looks great: built-in 802.11a/b/g/n wireless LAN, dual BigFoot Killer E2201 Gigabit LAN ports, ten USB 3.0 ports, Dual Intel Thunderbolt ports, one mSATA port, one eSATA port, Creative Sound Core 3D 5.1-channel audio CODEC, Dual BIOS with UEFI, 12 Phase Power Design, Triple Density PCB, high quality solid capacitors, Ice Crystal Chokes, dual-cooling MOSFETs, EZ Button control center, and dual SLI or triple CrossFireX capability. Software works well too: Easy BIOS Live Update Utility (eBLU) worked perfectly in updating the BIOS, Easy Driver Live Update Utility (eDLU) connected to the ECS website and displayed the latest drivers for this board, Easy Smart Fan Utility (eSF) adjusted fan speeds successfully, and while Easy Over Clock Utility (eOC) worked it left much to be desired — Intel Extreme Tuning (XTU) filled its place just fine. If you like gold/yellow with silver accents on a black PCB, this is the package to fill that need. Most other manufacturers have opted to go with red, blue, or all black, but there have been other options. It definitely sticks out.

Now for the bad: the last BIOS released was July 18th 2013. The board was shipped with a pre-release BIOS from mid-June. This is supposed to be a very high-end motherboard, but it hasn't had an update from the initial release BIOS, nearly half a year ago. This would be fine if it worked properly, but in testing it did not. Turning it off and then on again would cause it to lock up every single time, requiring clearing the CMOS to get it to boot. Every single time it would freeze at Post Code 3b, listed on the web as "reserved", but likely around CPU initialization. Then you'd have to go into BIOS and load a profile (after making one), save to get the settings back, and boot back into Windows. Without manually setting voltages some would be too high or too low — at stock this was no problem whatsoever. The board ran perfectly at stock except on initial power-on. Overclocking was unstable and would cause BSODs or freezing if the voltages weren't set manually. After figuring this out it was rock-solid stable when overclocked.

Three out of four of the cons could be overlooked if this motherboard had a proper BIOS update that fixes it. The market ECS has targeted is very small, so potential bug reports are probably low; ECS may not even know a problem exists. Hopefully the BIOS is the only issue causing the boot failures and not some hardware problem. If the BIOS wasn't buggy and it booted fine, then the price could be more justified since it is a high-end design. Fixing the BIOS would essentially negate three of the cons, and simply updating the eOC software with more options would remove it from the Cons list too.

The hardware looks great, but there are a few problems that need to be sorted out.

 

Pros:

  • Good looks
  • Stable
  • Cool operation
  • Extensive features
  • Multi GPU ready

 

Cons:

  • Freezing on boot until you clear thr CMOS
  • Bugs in BIOS
  • eOC software
  • Price


 




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