ECS L337 GANK Drone Z87H3-A3X ReviewRHKCommander959 -
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ECS L337 GANK DRONE Z87H3-A3X Introduction:
Even high performance systems can have product offerings in more affordable ranges rather than being limited to high end premiums. ECS — one of the largest motherboard manufacturing companies — is popular in budget segments. ECS has been making strides into different segments including overclocking and gaming products. L337 Gaming is the moniker ECS has given to its new Z87-based motherboards, with different series for identifying performance groups — Gank for Intel and Aggro for AMD-based motherboards. Classes range from Domination — the top of the line for gamers and overclocking, Machine — for hard core gamers, more of a mid-range offering, and Drone for the lower spectrum, but still with gamers in mind.
ECS has developed a mid-range motherboard for Intel socket LGA 1150 titled: ECS Drone Z87H3-A3X. This motherboard is an affordable solution that provides some higher-end features without the high-end cost. Examples of some of these attributes include 3-way on-board video output through DVI, HDMI, and D-Sub VGA output, 4 dual channel DDR3 memory slots with supported frequencies up to 3,000+ MHz (overclocked), six SATA 6Gb/s ports, Golden Solid Capacitors with a much higher lifespan than standard electrolytic capacitors, 8-channel high definition Sound Blaster Cinema audio, and dual PCI-Express x16 slots supporting both NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFire.
The Drone Z87H3-A3X is an affordable alternative to the Gank Domination and Machine Z87H3 variants, reviewed here recently. It doesn't have the wireless, Bluetooth, EZ Buttons, or some of the other extras of the other two classes, but not everyone will appreciate those features nor necessarily need them and they do cost extra! In this review we will find out how well the high-end budget L337 Gaming offering performs!
ECS L337 GANK DRONE Z87H3-A3X Closer Look:
The front of the box is laid out cleanly, the L337 Gaming logo at the top left. The box reflects the color scheme of the motherboard with mostly dark/black coloring with a few pops of gold and silver here and there. In large font at the center of the front are the series and class designations — Gank Drone, followed by the model Z87H3-A3X. The bottom lists the supported hardware and provided features: this motherboard is for Intel LGA 1150 4th Generation Core i7/i5/i3/Pentium/Celeron processors through the Intel Z87 chipset, is compatible with Windows 8, supports AMD Crossfire, NVIDIA SLI, and Sound Blaster Cinema audio. Flipping the box around to the back reveals much more information. Along the top, in a large bold font, are the key specifications: 6Gb/s SATA, Gen 3 Dual PCI-Express x16, 32GB Max DDR3 3000+ OC, 3.0 USB, Giga LAN, and HD 8-Channel Audio. A perspective view of the Z87H3-A3X is at the left with a list of features, followed by several close-up shots of key features with details. The features shown are dual PCI-Express x16 slots supporting AMD CrossFire and NVIDIA SLI 2-way, 4 dual channel DDR3 memory slots that support up to 3000+ MHz overclocked frequencies, L337 Gaming chipset and power circuitry heat sinks, Golden Solid Capacitors that provide up to six times longer lifespan over electrolytic capacitors, Intel I217-V Gigabit LAN Ethernet, 3-way on-board video output through DVI, HDMI, and D-Sub VGA, and lastly the Sound Blaster Cinema 8-channel HD audio output.
The long sides go into detail about the L337 Gaming values from ECS. The first side has a white graphic that reads "Battle Ready ECS L337 World of Gaming", with in the center "Elitegroup Striving to be L337 for life, commitment to building strong minds and hearts". In the center is a paragraph that reads: "Today's gamers are tomorrow's leaders so we strive to create products that give you that competitive gaming edge so that your successes in gaming will lead to success in life. With high quality components and top notch performance, L337 Gaming will help you get Battle Ready for the gaming world as well as the real world. L337 in life... L337 for life. Battle Ready for The Real World." At the right is the bar-code sticker with model information. The opposite side reflects the series, class, and model information that was on the top. There is also a QR Code for the ECS Z87H3-A3X product page. To the right are the three different class designations and their explanations. Domination — Designed for the professional gamer. Loaded the best features, the most expandability and the highest quality components. Perfect for overclocking. Machine — Designed for the hard core gamer. Loaded with new features, expandability, and quality components for great performance. Lastly, Drone is highlighted since that is the class that this board falls into: Drone — Designed for the extreme gamer. Plenty of features and quality. Great for those looking to become the next professional gamer. The shorter sides match each other and are similar to the prior side. Opening the box we are greeted by a white box with the L337 Gaming and Battle Ready logo.
Pulling the white box out reveals a sneak peak at the motherboard underneath, protected by an antistatic sleeve and pink antistatic foam pad. Inside the white box, that was just removed, are the accessories — I/O panel, SLI bridge, two SATA 6Gb/s cables, user manual, quick installation guide, and a driver disk.
Now that everything is unboxed it is time to take a good look at the ECS Z87H3-A3X motherboard!