ECS X58B-A Reviewccokeman -
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The ECS X58B-A delivers a little of the good, the bad and not so much on the ugly. The board is a full featured board that at stock speeds delivers performance on par with some hardware that costs as much as $180 more than the X58B-A. The onboard debug LED is useful for diagnosing no boot conditions and just in case you go too far the CMOS reset button is within easy reach on the I/O panel. The onboard power and reset buttons are easy to use and come in handy on a tech bench when you don't want to spend the time to hook up the front panel connections. Overclocking the ECS X58B-A was a challenge. All of the boards I have looked at were able to hit at least a 200+ MHz bclock without any drama. The ECS was just not going to play nice at this level. No amount of tweaking would get me there, voltages, timings, nada! That's not to say that the ECS X58B-A can't overclock, indeed it can taking my little CO stepping i7 920 up to 3.7GHz running at 185x20. This means that the overclock is just over 1GHz from the ECS X58 solution. The one thing I feel holding it back is that there is a serious drop in voltage to the CPU when loading it heavily. When the CPU core voltage is set to 1.425 in the BIOS, under load I saw as little as 1.35 volts during some serious Prime 95 load testing. The CPU I used in this review runs Prime stable at 4.1GHz with 1.4125 volts. Overclocking recovery was less than stellar with the CMOS reset seemingly the only route to go once you go too far. A positive is that the cooling seems to be fairly efficient staying cooler than some of the boards I have worked with. A little airflow goes a long way.
When I first received this board it had problems running a 64-bit OS with six or four gigabytes of memory. The system would take almost six minutes to get to the Windows logon screen. So the board sat for a while until ECS finally had a new BIOS. Once the new BIOS was available, the X58B-A was an entirely different animal taking less than forty seconds to go from POST to the OS. At that point it performed flawlessly. Speaking of the BIOS, it is a little slim for the serious tweaker, especially when it came to the memory timings. There just was not enough there to play with.
While this sounds like mostly the bad and the ugly, the good is that the board can overclock and offers performance on par with the big boys for a great price point. Currently available for just over $200 from many e-tailers, the ECS X58B-A is a solid deal for those not looking for the upper edge in overclocking but solid results for not a lot of money.
- Challenging to OC to the limits of the board
- CMOS reset button
- Onboard power and reset switches
- Onboard debug LED
- Chipset cooling
- Stock performance
- Plenty of features
- Too few tweaking options in BIOS
- Voltage droop
- No IDE for backwards compatibility
- Lost potential
- Initial BIOS has problems with 64-bit OS and 6GB of memory