ECS Z77H2-AX Golden Edition Reviewccokeman - May 13, 2012
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The ECS Golden Board Black Extreme Z77H2-AX is one of the latest motherboards based on the Z77 chipset, which supports both the new and upcoming 3rd generation Core series processors, as well as the current 2nd generation LGA 1155 processors. ECS has chosen this board as a showcase for its NonStop build philosophy, which puts the boards through a rigorous 72 hour military-grade test environment called the Super Marathon. ECS uses the Sahara Burn-in test in an environment set to 50°C for long-term temperature stability testing, along with Apache Long-Life capacitors and Thor Ultra ESD protection. As we all know, gold is an excellent conductor of current and does not oxidize, so ECS has chosen this medium to coat the CPU socket pins and PCIe connections on the Golden Edition motherboard and hopefully improve its overall stability and life span. The Gold 4ever concept, which consists of Golden Quality, Golden Stability, Golden Cooling and Golden Royalty, are the hallmarks of this philosophy and shows the commitment that ECS has put behind its Black Extreme series motherboards. Let’s take a look at the rest of the feature set and see how this offering from ECS compares to others on the market.
Taking the Gold 4ever concept even further, the packaging for Golden Edition is, as you might guess, almost entirely gold-colored, with minimal branding on the outside of the packaging. There are flaps that open on the front and back sides, which go through the feature set of this motherboard in detail. Opening the front panel, we can see the board and information on its golden components. It looks like old King Midas touched just about every part of the Z77H2-AX, from the 15μ gold contacts in the CPU socket, to the Bluetooth dongle, USB 3.0 ports, Wi-fi dongle, and the audio ports. The Gold 4ever concept is detailed as well, with gold coloring all over the board peripherals. On the back of box, there is information on SLI and CrossfireX support, switchable graphics using Lucids Virtu software, PCIe Gen3 support, and Qooltech board cooling, which is advertised to be 20% faster in dissipating thermal load on the board components.
Inside the package are two boxes that contain the Z77H2-AX and the accessory bundle. The bundle includes the user manual, installation guides, and a driver disk. In terms of the hardware portion of the bundle, it is pretty sizable. Included is the gold-colored I/O panel, 3 SLI bridge connections, a USB 3.0 dongle with 3.5 inch bay and expansion slot bracket adapters, SATA 3 and 6 Gb/s cables, a wireless antenna, a certificate of quality, and plugs for the unused ports on the back of the IO panel. The I/O panel has a covering on the back side to reduce EFI emissions.
ECS has several videos on their YouTube channel, but this one deals directly with what it takes to have one of the Z77H2-AX motherboards reach "Golden Board" status. Taking a look through the video, we see just how much work is done on the back-end in terms of testing, torture testing, and tweaking for the best performance.
So without further ado, let's dig into what the ECS Z77H2-AX Golden Board has to offer the consumer besides an incredibly flash box.