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ECS Elitegroup P55H-AK Review

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Testing of this latest example of a P55 based motherboard from ECS will encompass both stock and overclocked test parameters to see just how well it overclocks using both traditional methods as well as any ECS proprietary overclocking tools. These results will be compared to other competitive motherboards to give you an idea of how well it performs by comparison so that you can make an informed decision on what your next purchase should be. Each board is tested with the components listed below with a fresh install of Windows 7 with all drivers using the latest revisions at the time of the testing.

Testing Setup:

  • CPU: Intel core i7 860
  • Cooling: Air:Noctua NH-U12P SE 1366
  • Cooling: Water: GTX360,2000 RPM Fans, Heatkiller 3.0
  • Motherboard: ECS P55H-AK
  • Memory: Kingston HyperX blu DDR3-1600 CL9
  • Video Card: Gigabyte HD 5870
  • Power Supply: Enermax Modu-82+ 625W
  • HDD: Seagate 7200.12 640 GB
  • Optical Drive: Samsung DVD-R
  • OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

Comparison Motherboards:



Overclocked Settings:

  • Processor: Intel core i7 860 at 212 X 20 = 4.24 Ghz
  • Motherboard: ECS P55H-AK

The overclocking on this board was a pleasant surprise after getting used to the different BIOS ECS uses. There are little things in this BIOS that you have to figure out (just like any BIOS). Such as the fact that the CPU multiplier is hidden by default and you have to find the way to unearth it. Another little one is that the c-states are actually in two different parts of the BIOS, so turning off the obvious one doesn't completely shut down the c-states. The overclocking was rather easy once all the little eccentricities of this BIOS were figured out. The maximum Bclk I was able to obtain (without going crazy with voltages) was 215, so, not bad at all for a P55 based board. Just to keep things fair with the comparison motherboards, I did have to lower it slightly to 212 so all the boards could compete on level ground.

The self-overclocking in the BIOS worked well, it gives you three overclocking settings, Light, Middle and Heavy. I'd be very careful when using it just for the fact that it tends to over-volt a bit. All automatic overclocking features seem to do this for the sake of stability and can really get someone in trouble with temperatures if they aren't very careful. I would definitely recommend starting slow and using the Light setting to begin with (if you were to try overclocking with this) and of course, watch your temperatures.

Here is an example of what I'm talking about with the BIOS auto overclocking feature:

  • Light   2.940 Ghz @ 1.212v vcore W/Turbo enabled bringing it to 3.640 Ghz @ 1.360v vcore
  • Middle 3.066 GHz @ 1.284v vcore W/Turbo enabled bringing it to 3.790 Ghz @ 1.440v vcore
  • Heavy 3.360 GHz @ 1.368v vcore W/Turbo enabled bringing it to 4.160 Ghz @ 1.524v vcore

I did test each of these setting with Prime95 and they were all stable, but the Heavy setting did push my i7 860 on air to 82c (beyond Intel's max recommended temperature) within minutes. Needless to say, this uses a little more voltage than is really needed versus manually overclocking your processor. This is illustrated by the overclock screen shot below running at 4.240 GHz @ 1.380v vcore. Next to it is the max bclk screen shot @ 4.30 GHz, 215 Bclk. This board really does like to overclock manually, so the time invested into learning how to do it manually will really pay off.



Maximum Clock Speeds:

Each CPU has been tested for its maximum stable clock speeds using Prime95. To gauge the maximum stability level, each processor had to be able to perform at least a one hour torture test without any errors.




Off to the testing now on the next page.

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