ECS A785GM-M Motherboard Review

ajmatson - 2009-09-28 14:35:03 in Motherboards
Category: Motherboards
Reviewed by: ajmatson   
Reviewed on: December 20, 2009
Price: $101.99


Today we are keeping up our look into the AMD 785G chipset, which brings us a powerful integrated graphics platform at an affordable price. The 785G chipset includes the Radeon HD 4200 integrated graphics in a small, yet powerful, design. The A785GM-M motherboard from ECS is an mATX form factor motherboard using the 785G Northbridge and the SB710 Southbridge, which is perfectly designed for that Home Theater PC you have been dreaming of. The ECS A785GM-M is part of ECS's "Black Series" motherboard line, which is aimed toward gamers and enthusiasts who want to push as much out of there system as possible. The 785G chipset that the ECS A785GM-M motherboard uses also supports AM3 processors, including the blistering fast Phenom II series, and DDR3 memory so that you can get the most bang for your buck when choosing your parts for the next big build. Like the past Black Series boards from ECS that packed a huge amount of features into their products, they have followed suit here with the A785GM-M by adding some great features that not only help with making building your system easier but also with every day use as well.  The new eJiffy feature is included with the ECS A785GM-M, as well as solid capacitors to ensure your investment is around for a long time. Without further ado, let's tear into the packaging and see what this board has to offer.

Closer Look:

The ECS A785GM-M motherboard comes packaged in a "Black Series" theme with several of the supporting hardware logos and supporting features. On the reverse side of the box, there is a break down of some of the features that stand out on the board including the eJiffy and durability features. There is also a picture of the board so you can see exactly what it looks like prior to purchase.  On the bottom of the rear panel is the breakdown of the specifications for the board including the chipset and hardware it supports.











Opening the box lets you see what is included with the ECS A785GM-M motherboard. There are four SATA cables which have the 90-degree connectors on one of the ends, an IDE cable, the I/O shield, the manuals and setup guides, the driver CD and the eJiffy quick boot installation CD.





Now that we have the board out, let's take more look at the detail of it close up.

Closer Look:

Once I had the board out of the box and anti-static wrapper, I noticed the traditional design and color scheme of the ECS Black series motherboards with the brown colored PC board and the yellow/orange/red colors of the memory and expansion slots. The ECS A785GM-M motherboard is designed in the mATX form factor measuring 244mm by 244mm, which makes it perfect for home theater PCs or small form workstations. The A785GM-M uses the 785G/SB710 chipset for rich integrated DirectX 10.1 graphics and fast transfer speeds designed to make your system scream. It also supports AM3 processors including the Phenom II and Athlon II series for a bleeding edge experience. On the back side, there is the heatsink retention bracket which offloads the stress of the CPU heatsink from straining a small area of the board and causing damage. In addition, the ECS A785GM-M uses completely solid Japanese capacitors which increases the life of the components.















On the left side of the ECS A785GM-M motherboard, there are the back panel connectors. ECS has always done a good job in this area and here they also provide a lot of connections for your needs. The first thing I want to point out which may or may not matter to most, but was a big issue with me, is that there is no PS/2 port. Most of the time this will not be an issue, however, with a geek like myself, who keeps all of my computer hardware in case there is a day when I might use it, I still have plenty of PS/2 keyboards around for my servers and secondary computers. In particular on my testing setup I have a USB mouse but a PS/2 keyboard and with the lack of a PS/2 port I had to swap constantly my only USB keyboard between computers during the review. This was a big hassle on a board supposed to simplify my life. Moving on, the connections on the back panel are the VGA port, the DVI port, the HDMI port, six USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire port, two eSATA ports, one LAN port supporting Gigabit Ethernet, and optical S/PDIF out port, and the analog audio ports.



Down below the back panel connectors are the expansion slots. Since this is an mATX style motherboard, there is only so much room to place slots on the board and ECS did a great job on their selection and placement. There are two PCI Express x1 slots, and one PCI Express x16 slot for both dedicated video cards and certain models that will run in tandem with the integrated GPU as Hybrid CrossfireX mode for increased performance. There is also one PCI slot supporting legacy cards such as that audio card you have had for years.


As I mentioned above, the ECS A785GM-M motherboard supports AM3 processors including the Phenom II and Athlon II series. The board runs HyperTransport 3.0 for up to 5200 mega-transfers per second. The CPU area, while looking a bit crowded, is actually very spacious. I had no issues installing aftermarket heatsinks or water cooling blocks to the board. The memory supported by the A785GM-M uses the four DIMM slots for a maximum of 32GB of memory with speeds of up to DDR3-1333MHz, natively. The memory, when placed in the like colored slots, will run in dual channel if paired with the same specifications. ECS recommends populating the outer yellow colored slots first when running only two modules for the optimal dual channel configuration.


Moving on down to the bottom of the motherboard, there are the motherboards headers for even more expansion. Starting from the left side of the board, there is the front panel audio header, a S/PDIF header, a FireWire header, three USB 2.0 headers, the front panel control headers, six SATA 3.0Gb/s ports, and one IDE port supporting up to two devices. You can also see that ECS has included two features on the A785GM-M motherboard designed at making your experience even better. These features are the included control buttons for the power, reset, and clear CMOS functions and the debug LED, which I particularly love having on the boards I build systems with.



Finally, we have the cooling of the ECS A785GM-M motherboard. ECS has always given their boards on the Black Series decent cooling and there is not any difference here. They started with a large aluminum heatsink over the voltage area of the board with the Black Series logo on the top. Then, there is a medium sized heatsink over the Northbridge to cool the chip and, finally, there is a smaller aluminum heatsink over the Southbridge to aid in efficiency when pushing your hardware.



Now that we have seen the hardware, let's move on over to the software side of the A785GM-M.

Closer Look:


Installing the drivers for the ECS A785GM-M motherboard could not be simpler. Just pop in the driver CD and the autostart will bring up the A785GM-M AutoSetup program automatically. Once there, you can select the drivers you would like to install onto the system. By default, everything is checked including the chipset drivers, the device drivers for the Ethernet, sound drivers and RAID drivers. The video drivers for the integrated video are included with the chipset drivers and will be installed with the ATI Catalyst Install Manager.















As the install continues, the program will run the ATI drivers' installer for the majority of the chipset hardware since this is an ATI/AMD based board. This setup will also install the drivers for the integrated graphics. The ATI Catalyst Install Manager begins with allowing you to either install or remove the chipset drivers from the system. Once you choose install, you can select to have it install with express parameters or as a custom install. If you choose custom, you can select where to install the drivers to and what drivers you wish to have installed. Dy default, you have to install the ATI Catalyst Install Manager with the main chipset drivers and the Visual C++ program. You can choose whether or not to install the USB Filter Driver, the Northbridge Filter Driver, and the IDE Driver based on your needs. Once the drivers are installed, reboot the computer to finalize everything.




Once the ATI/AMD drivers are completed, the computer will restart and automatically install the network drivers for the Realtek 8111DL Gigabit Ethernet port.



What is the eJiffy program, you ask? Well, if you are familiar with quick boot solutions such as the ASUS ExpressGate software then eJiffy will surely appeal to your sweet spot. eJiffy allows almost instantaneous booting into a stripped down version of a Linux operating system which will allow you to get online, view pictures, and chat without having to wait for a conventional operating system to load. This allows you to do some quick surfing in time sensitive situations easily and efficiently. Say you need to check your bank account before running out of the door. Well, boot into eJiffy and you do not have to spend the extra time waiting.




Now we have the drivers installed, let's reboot and take a look at the BIOS for the ECS A785GM-M motherboard.

The BIOS is one of the most important components of a computer. This firmware controls how the system handles the hardware. BIOS, which stands for Basic Input/Output System, is used to identify and initialize the hardware of a computer and set defaults for them like memory speed, CPU speed, and more. The BIOS on the ECS A785GM-M "Black Series" motherboard is a very basic one. It offers you the basics to get you going, but no hardcore overclocking will be done with this board.


Standard CMOS Setup:

Once you enter the BIOS by pressing the "Del" key at start up, you will be presented with the main screen. I will explain each one as we go on, but here is an overview for you so you get an idea of the layout. First up is the Standard CMOS Setup, which allows you to adjust the Date/Time and access drive information.













Advanced Setup:

The Advanced Setup section lets you alter features such as the AMD Cool & Quiet and C1E power saving functions, boot up functions, hard disk priority, and the eJiffy utility. After installing the eJiffy program to the hard drive, you can enable the feature here and also allow you to reset the quick "OS" to its default settings in case there is a problem with it.



Advanced Chipset Setup:

In the Advanced Chipset Setup section, you can choose what display to boot first, be it PCI or PCI Express. You also can enable or disable the Memory Hole Remapping and set the memory to ganged or unganged mode.


Integrated Peripherals:

Moving on down, there is the Integrated Peripherals section. This is where the user controls the onboard IDE and SATA controllers, Audio, LAN functions, and USB support. For SATA settings, you can select IDE mode, RAID mode for multiple disks, or ACHI mode. ACHI, which stands for Advanced Host Controller Interface, is a great interface specification that supports new technologies like Native Command Queuing and Hot Plug capabilities. You can also choose the mode you want the JMB362 controller to run as.


Power Management:

In the Power Management section, the user has the ability to change the ACPI Suspend Type, actions for when the power button is pressed, and resume operation for different devices like the mouse and LAN connection.
















PCI/PnP Setup / PC Health Status:

The PCI/PnP Setup section is where you can select which interface to boot first, either PCI or PCI-e. Next to that is the PC Health Status section, where you can monitor system temperatures and fan speeds. Also, you can set shutdown and warning temps to prevent a disaster should something fail.




Motherboard Intelligent BIOS II:

The last section is called the M.I.B. II, or Motherboard Intelligent BIOS II, which is where you can control of the overclocking functions such as CPU speed, multipliers, and the memory. On the ECS A785GM-M, you have more control over this board then on some previous ECS boards. For the memory, you can set the frequency based on the straps which, at the default reference clock, gives you 400MHz, 533MHz, 667MHz, or 800MHz. For the CPU, you can control the reference clock and the multipliers for unlocked processors, as well as the voltages of the memory, CPU, Northbridge and the Southbridge.





Now that we have had a look at the BIOS of the ECS A785GM-M, let's move on to setting up the system.



Socket AM3 socket for AMD Phenom™ II processors
High-performance HyperTransport 3.0 CPU Interface
Support transfer rate up to 5200 mega-transfers per second
AMD® 785G & AMD® SB710
North Bridge: AMD® 785G
South Bridge: AMD® SB710
HyperTransport BUS
HT 3.0
Integrated Graphics Processor
On Chip (AMD 785G-based with ATI™ Radeon HD4200 graphics )
Integrated DirectX10.1 graphics processor
Dual-channel DDR3 memory architecture
4 x 240-pin DDR3 DIMM socket support up to 32GB*
Support DDR3 1333/1066/800 SDRAM
*(Due to the DRAM maximum size is 4GB at present, the memory maximum size we have tested is 16GB
Expansion Slots
1 x PCI Express x16 slot
2 x PCI Express x1 slots
1 x PCI slot
Support by AMD® SB710
2 x Ultra DMA 100/66/33 devices
6 x Serial ATA 3.0Gb/s devices
RAID0, RAID1, RAID10 configuration
Support by JMicron® JMB362
2 x eSATAII 3.0Gb/s devices
Realtek ALC 888S supports 8-channel HD audio
Compliant with HD audio specification
Ethernet LAN
RealTek 8111DL Gigabit Fast Ethernet NIC
Rear I/O Panel
6 x USB ports
1 x Gigabit Ethernet Port
1 x 1394a port
2 x e-SATA ports
1 x Audio port (1x Line in, 4x Line out, 1x Optical SPDIF Out)
1 x VGA port
1 x DVI connector
1 x HDMI Port
Internal I/O Connectors and Headers
1 x 24-pin ATX Power Supply Connector & 8-pin 12V Connector
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power Connector
1 x CPU_FAN connector
1 x PWR_FAN connector
1 x SYS Fan header
1 x IDE connector
6 x Serial ATA 3Gb/s connectors
1 x 7S-LED Display
1 x Buzzer
1 x Front panel switch/LED header
1 x Front panel audio header
1X Power on LED (Green light)
1X Stand by LED (Red Light)
1 x SPDIF out header
1 x 1394a header
3 x USB 2.0 headers support additional 6 USB ports
1 x Power button/1 x Reset button
1 x Clear CMOS button
System BIOS
Supports Plug and Play, STR/STD, Hardware monitor, Multi Boot, DMI,HDCP
Supports ACPI 3.0 revision
Support ECS M.I.B II Utility
-CPU voltage adjustable
-Memory voltage adjustable
-NB Chipset Voltage Adjustable
-SB Chipset Voltage Adjustable
-HT Voltage Adjustable
-External Clock Adjustable
-Multiple Frequency Adjustable by CPU
ECS eJIFFY utility
-Instant access to the internet
-Leaves away from virus attacks under Windows
-An alternative interface when Windows crashes
-Just download the application & BIOS from ECS
Form Factor
Micro-ATX Size, 244mm*244mm




Going into the ECS A785GM-M review, I have been very anxious to see how it performs. ECS has been producing some stable boards with the Black series and with the features that the A785GM-M offers it intrigues me greatly. To test the ECS A785GM-M motherboard, I will be running a series of tests designed to stress the motherboard using scientific and video benchmarks. This will give us a score based on the aspects of the tests which will be compared to the scores of several other motherboards around its class, to see how it stands out among the competition. Included in the comparisons are two other 785G based motherboard and a 790GX based board to see how it stands. To keep any outside interference with the scores, all of the hardware will be run at the same speeds, timings, and latencies unless otherwise noted.


DDR3 Testing Setup:


Comparison Boards:


Overclocked settings:

Since the AMD Phenom II X4 965 is a Black Edition processor with the unlocked multiplier, I started off the overclocking by pushing up the multiplier as I normally do. On the ECS A785GM-M, the furthest that it would go before it started to lock up on my was at 18x. Anything after that, even by a half multiplier, would not boot even after I upped the CPU voltage to 1.55v for testing purposes. With my wall of 18x on the multiplier, I started to push up the reference clock slightly until again I could no longer boot and run a benchmark stably. I was able to boot into the system at 215MHz but it was not stable at all until I backed off to 208MHz then I could successfully run the benchmarks without any locking up or blue screens. With this, I ran the overclocked tests at 3.735GHz which is 208 x 18 at 1.5 volts.







  1. Apophysis
  2. WinRAR
  3. Excel 2007
  4. PCMark Vantage Professional
  5. Sandra XII
  6. ScienceMark 2.02
  7. Cinebench 10
  8. HD Tune 2.55
  1. Far Cry 2
  2. Crysis Warhead
  3. BioShock
  4. Call of Duty: World at War
  5. Dead Space 
  6. Fallout 3 
  7. Left 4 Dead
  8. 3DMark 06 Professional
  9. 3DMark Vantage


The first part of our testing will be the system specific benchmarks.


Let's get started with Apophysis. This program is used primarily to render and generate fractal flame images. We will run this benchmark with the following settings:



The measurement used is time to render, in minutes, to complete.









Lower is Better


WinRAR is a tool to archive and compress large files to a manageable size. We will use 10MB, 100MB and 500MB files and test the time needed to compress these files. Time will be measured in seconds; the lower the better.








In Apophysis, all of the boards measured equally and in WinRAR, the ECS board was in the middle of the 785G boards.


Excel 2007 Big Number Crunch: This benchmark uses mathematics to perform complex calculations in Excel 2007, which puts a heavy load on the processor. The measurement is in seconds that it takes to complete the task. The benchmark is performed three times and then averaged for the final score.
















Lower is better


POV Ray 3.7: This program features a built in benchmark that renders an image using Ray Tracing. The latest versions offer support for SMP (Symmetric MultiProcessing), enabling the workload to be spread across the cores for a quicker completion.

Higher Is Better


PCMark Vantage is used to measure complete system performance. We will be running a series of tests to gauge the performance of each individual motherboard to see which board, if any, rises above the others.


When it came to the Excel test, the ECS board was a bit behind the Sapphire board and for PCMark Vantage, it came in last from all of the comparison boards. For POV Ray, the ECS board actually fared very well - almost matching the Gigabyte 785G board.


SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful. For this benchmark, I will be running a broad spectrum of tests to gauge the performance of key functions of the motherboards.














 Processor Arithmetic


Multi-Core Efficiency


Memory Bandwidth


Memory Latency


Cache and Memory


File System


Physical Disks


Power Management Efficiency


The ECS board scored better or equal to the other 785G boards and the 790X board.


ScienceMark tests real world performance instead of using synthetic benchmarks. For this test, we ran the benchmark suite and will use the overall score for comparison.

















Higher is Better


CineBench is useful for testing your system, CPU and OpenGL capabilities using the software program CINEMA 4D. We will be using the default tests for this benchmark.


Higher is Better


HD Tune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers.


Higher is Better



Lower is Better


In ScienceMark, the ECS 785GM-M scored in the middle of the 785G boards again. For Cinebench, the ECS board was in the middle of the pack, but for HD Tune the chipset was very efficient pulling out good burst numbers but lower average numbers.


Far Cry 2:

Featuring a new game engine named Dunia, this game looks to be another one to stress your video card. Built specially for Far Cry 2, this engine allows for real-time effects and damage. This next generation first-person shooter comes to us from Ubisoft, surprisingly - not from Crytek. The game is set in a war-torn region of Africa where there is a non-existent central government and the chaos that surrounds this type of social environment. If you have seen the movie Blood Diamond, you know the setting. Ubisoft puts the main storyline of the game into focus with these statements: "Caught between two rival factions in war-torn Africa, you are sent to take out "The Jackal," a mysterious character who has rekindled the conflict between the warlords, jeopardizing thousands of lives. In order to fulfill your mission you will have to play the factions against each other, identify and exploit their weaknesses, and neutralize their superior numbers and firepower with surprise, subversion, cunning and, of course, brute force." In this Far Cry game, you don't have the beautiful water, but instead the beauty and harshness of the African continent to contend with. Most games give you a set area that can be played through, while Ubisoft has given the gamer the equivalent of 50km2 of the vast African continent to explore while in pursuit of your goals. The settings used are just a few steps below the maximum in-game settings and offer a good blend of performance vs. visual quality.











The ECS board tied the Gigabyte 785G board for the lead.


Crysis Warhead is a standalone expansion pack situated in time with the storyline of the original Crysis. As Sergeant "Psycho" Sykes, you have a secret mission to accomplish on the far side of the island. Along the way there are EMP blasts and Aliens to contend with, as you hunt down the KPA chief. This game uses an enhanced version of the CryEngine 2.















Again, the ECS board and the Gigabyte 785G tied.


BioShock is one of the creepier games you can play. The building of a perfect Utopian society undersea gone horribly wrong. Its inhabitants driven mad with the introduction of tonics and genetic modifications. Now Rapture is just a shadow of its former glory with little girls looting the dead of what little they have left while being shadowed by guardians known as "Big Daddys". It is a demanding game that will make your hardware scream for mercy. This first-person shooter allows for an infinite number of weapons and modifications to provide a unique experience each time it is played. The environment, as well as the storyline, will wrap you up for hours on end.


Video Settings:













Here in Bioshock, surprisingly, the ECS board beat out all of the rest by a few frames.


Activision's Call Of Duty: World at War goes right back to the bread and butter of the franchise - WWII FPS action. In this rendition, you start off in the South Pacific and move through a series of missions that flip back and forth between the Russian front and the island hopping advance toward the Imperial Japanese homeland. Included is a mission on Peliliu Island, arguably one of the more difficult and costly battles in the Pacific theater. The gameplay in the single player mode is rather short, but the game makes up for this shortcoming in online gameplay. If you thought COD4 looked nice, this game is amazing with the graphics maxed out playing at a large resolution. This game just may be my reason to move to a 30-inch monitor. I will use Fraps to measure a section of gameplay in the Semper Fi map on Makin Island to compare performance of these video cards.















In Call of Duty, the ECS board was in the middle of the pack.


In Dead Space, as part of the crew of the USG Kellion you are headed on a repair mission to repair a ship in distress. Things go from bad to worse, starting with the crash landing of the seemingly silent and "dead" ship, the USG Ishimuru. Offering a non-traditional, over-the-shoulder viewing angle, the game gets right into the action as soon as the ventilation systems are activated. From there things get worse with the appearance of the Necromorphs. Survival now becomes a primary concern for the primary character Isaac Clarke. Survive and you may find the loved one that was aboard the Ishimuru.
















The ECS performed on top of the run here, tying the Gigabyte 785G at 1920x1200.


Fallout 3 takes place after the nuclear holocaust that nearly wipes out civilization and leaves the world an irradiated mess. The vault, or fallout shelter, you are born in is Vault 101, situated in the Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia area. The premise of the game is that the Vault has been sealed for 200 years and now your father has opened the vault and escaped without a trace. The Overseer believes you are involved, so you must escape as well into the wasteland that was once our nation's capital. I find myself looking for landmarks since I am familiar with the streets of Washington DC.














Unfortunately, the ECS A785GM-M fell behind in Fallout 3 - but not by much.


Left 4 Dead is a new release from Valve that leaves you as part of a group of survivors in a world where an infection has rapidly turned the populace into a zombie horde. Your goal is to make it to a rescue point, all while fighting what seems like overwhelming odds. Along the way there are safe houses where you can replenish your weapons and health. The movie "I Am Legend" comes to mind to set the stage for this game. But unlike the movie, there are four characters and not just a lone gun and his faithful companion. The horde is not at all like the typical slow walking, foot shuffling zombies. These zombies are quick and work with pack mentality. You have but one job; survival!













The ECS board started very strong, but fell a bit as the resolution grew.


3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest begins. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how these boards fare. The settings we will use are listed below.
















With the exception of the 1680x1050 resolution, the ECS 785G was better than the other 785G boards and close to the 790GX chipset.


Featuring all-new game tests, this benchmark is for use with Vista-based systems. "There are two all-new CPU tests that have been designed around a new 'Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation.' CPU test two offers support for physics related hardware." There are four preset levels that correspond to specific resolutions. "Entry" is 1024x768 progressing to "Extreme" at 1920x1200. Of course, each preset can be modified to arrange any number of user designed testing. For our testing, I will use the four presets at all default settings.
















The ECS board scored in the middle of the 785G chipset boards again.


The ECS A785GM-M is a solid motherboard offering you all the perks of a great chipset at and affordable price. If you are looking for a rock stable motherboard without any overclocking then the ECS A785GM-M board offers a wealth of features for your next build. With built in power, reset, and clear CMOS buttons and a debug LED system builders will love using this board when designing their computers and testing them before they go into full use. There even is plenty of room and space to work with, designed into the smaller mATX form factor ECS A785GM-M motherboard, which is one feature we have seen short falls with on some of the other 785G chipset mATX style motherboards. With all solid capacitors, ECS has designed this motherboard to be stable and viable for long term use. When it came to overclocking, the results were bitter sweet. While I did get a bit more of an overclock on the ECS A785GM-M motherboard than I did on the Sapphire 785G board, the overclock was still very limited. I was not able to push either the multiplier, or the reference clock very far, no matter how much voltage I threw at the system. I know the Phenom II X4 965 has a lot more headroom to go, so the limiting factor is the motherboard which is hit or miss. This overclock, while stable, was not very impressive when it came to the scores. If you are wanting a solid board with a numerous amount of features to run at stock settings, this is one heck of a board especially if you are building an HPTC where you want cool temperatures at low voltages. If overclocking is your piece of pie, then you would want to look at a higher end board.