ECS L337 GANK Domination Z87H3-AX Golden ReviewRHKCommander959 -
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ECS L337 GANK Domination Z87H3-AX Golden Closer Look:
Bundled software tailored for motherboards is not a new concept. Traditionally this kind of software has been hit or miss from most manufacturers. When or if it works it can be a powerful tool, but all too often this kind of software has bugs or limited features. If the program works perfectly users will have a better experience; on the contrary if it has problems then users will remember that in a negative manner. With this logic it would seem smarter to leave the software out unless it does work flawlessly. Nonetheless many manufacturers now provide software; some have the system down while others are still working out the problems.
ECS has provided four programs to adjust different aspects of the system. ECS calls these programs the ECS Intelligent EZ Utility: eBLU BIOS Live Update Utility for updating the BIOS from within an OS, eDLU Driver Live Update Utility for finding the latest drivers provided by the ECS website, eOC Easy Over Clock Utility for overclocking within the OS, and Easy Speed Fan Utility for controlling how the fans operate according to the heat levels.
Everything software-related starts with inserting the DVD and having AutoRun start the default setup program. Generally I recommend getting the latest files from the website, but it is good to see what comes on the DVD with the package. The program that pops up after the AutoRun initialization is the Mainboard Setup Utility. Three tabs at the top can be clicked for choosing to install Drivers or Utilities, or get information on the driver type and path. Along the bottom are four orange buttons for Setup, Utilities, Browse DVD for browsing the disc contents, and Exit for ending the program. Clicking Utilities brings up a different menu of programs with their associated icons.
To install a program you click the icon and an installation program pops up. Along the bottom are arrows and page numbers for navigating through the software choices. The programs and trials featured are: Adobe Acrobat Reader, MUZEE Worldwide Internet Entertainment, Norton Internet Security, CyberLink Power2Go 7, CyberLink PowerDirector 9 Downloader, CyberLink PowerDVD 12 Downloader, eBLU, eDLU, eOC, eSF, and EZ Charger. Clicking Information brings up a page that lists the driver types, driver paths, and the comment section that sometimes contains the supported OS information. Clicking Setup on the first page expedites the process by offering to install everything. The total space needed is a little shy of 700MB; small enough it could probably be made to fit onto a CD. Most people now have DVD drives anyway.
ECS Intelligent EZ Utilities include programs for BIOS updates, driver updates, overclocking, and fan speed settings. First up is the eBLU BIOS Live Update Utility. This program is very simple, as there are only three buttons to press. Click Check Update and it will find out what the latest Online Version is, its size, and compare it to yours. This motherboard came with a pre-release BIOS, with the 2013/07/18 version being the first official release. Clicking Install will do just that, while clicking About will tell you the ECS website address and company information. The eDLU Driver Live Update Utility is similar to the eBLU utility. Clicking start will have it load the ECS website on your main browser with the latest drivers for the ECS L337 GANK Domination Z87H3-AX Golden.
The eOC Easy Over Clock Utility starts off showing the CPU and System temperature. The DTS abbreviation next to the temperature is to signify the temperature is measured by the Intel Digital Thermal Sensor. Along the top of the program are four buttons — the program starts on the first page so the button is highlighted. Clicking Easy Tuning brings about a page where one can change the CPU Frequency (also known as Base Clock or BCLK). Below this the DIMM memory, SB (Southbridge), and PCH Platform Controller Hub voltages are listed. The only options here are to adjust the CPU Frequency using the slider, save this setting or load another setting, undo a change by clicking Previous Setting, and last clicking on Apply to make the changes.
Clicking Advance Tuning unlocks the voltages for the DIMM, SB, and PCH voltages. Clicking Options reveals the software version, gives several options to choose from, and also has a star that can be clicked on to see if a newer version is available. The available options include: executing the eOC program on boot, loading a prior-saved setting when eOC is loaded, applying the setting when eOC is loaded, applying the setting after resuming from sleep mode, and the amount of seconds to automatically apply the settings. This program is very rudimentary, but this time it is not a good thing. The program should at a minimum have CPU multiplier and CPU Voltage options. With this architecture CPU Frequency overclocking will have minimal results, most topping out around 105MHz. Real Haswell overclocking is done through unlocked K CPUs through their CPU multiplier. I've seen other manufacturers that provide more features, some even mimicking the BIOS. These settings here are more reminiscent of the Northbridge overclocking days where these settings would have been more useful.
The eSF Smart Fan Utility has five different fan speed profiles to choose from. Full speed does just that while the others ramp up speed as temperatures rise. The chart has blue and green arrows; blue for the increasing speed/heat relation and green for decreasing speed/heat (removing a load such as closing a game). The custom profile is simple to use: three orbs allow users to adjust minimum fan speed at a given temperature, maximum fan speed at a given temperature, and the speed/temperature curve for when the system is cooling down.
With the software-side done it is time to check out the BIOS for the ECS L337 GANK Domination Z87H3-AX Golden!