In March, 2005 we reviewed a motherboard from ASRock K8Upgrade-760GX. The key feature of this model was its support for AMD processors both for Socket 754 as well as for Socket 939 due to 939 CPU Board connected to a special AGP slot. But the technical progress is never idle, today we shall review a motherboard from ECS, which supports AMD and Intel processors.
We have already reviewed the ECS PF88 Extreme Hybrid motherboard, it's high time to examine ECS SIMA A9S. This very expansion card and the PF88 motherboard form the "extreme hybrid". The main task of the A9S is to support AMD processors, that's why it contains nothing but Socket 939, memory slots (2 x DDR SDRAM DIMM) and 4-pin ATX for a processor. The motherboard also contains the SiS 756 core logic (northbridge), operating with SiS956 southbridge on the ECS PF88. It's quite enough to provide cooperation between the A9S and the PF88 Extreme Hybrid. The ECS A9S is connected to Elite BUS slot on the main board. Jumpers near the above mentioned slot are used to switch between Intel and AMD processors.
We had no gripes with the ECS A9S layout. But when the card is installed into a PC case, there appear two problems. Both these problems have to do with large dimensions of the card. Firstly, such a large expansion card cannot possibly have a good effect on the air circulation inside a PC case, which in its turn has a negative effect on temperature conditions. Secondly, when installed into a PC case, the ECS A9S hampers your manipulations with memory modules near the Elite BUS slot. Besides, it should be noted that not all coolers can be installed on this card. It has to do with the CPU socket placed close to the surface of the main board. If you install a wide cooler, it will not allow to install the A9S into the corresponding slot.
The ECS A9S gets the iXBT.com editors' Original Design award:
The 3-phase switching voltage regulator of the processor incorporates two 3300 uF capacitors and seven 1500 uF capacitors. The board also contains a memory voltage regulator (two 3300 uF capacitors and four 1000 uF ones). The board mostly uses electrolytic capacitors from Ost and G - Luxon. The motherboard has no empty seats for unsoldered elements. Card dimensions — 240x135 mm (attached to the rear panel with two screws). System is monitored by a chip located on the ECS PF 88 motherboard. The same applies to CMOS.
System monitoring (ITE IT8712F-A):
Onboard ports, sockets, and connectors
We used BIOS 415, the latest available BIOS version at the time of our tests. The mentioned BIOS parameters are available in this version, but the viability of non-standard settings hasn't been tested.
The tables below contain the results, demonstrated by the motherboard under review with Intel and AMD processors. We also compare the ECS PF88 results with "typical" representatives of top motherboards with corresponding processors.
Figures speak for themselves. ECS PF88 certainly supports Intel processors, but expediency of this motherboard specially for Socket 775 processors is doubtful. They are not cheap and their performance is not impressive.
But the situation with AMD processors is exactly the opposite. ECS SIMA A9S together with the motherboard under review demonstrates decent results. Under equal conditions it outperforms the recently reviewed Gigabyte motherboard with Socket 939 in all respects.
ECS PF88 Extreme Hybrid is quite an unusual and controversial product. On the one hand, we should do justice to ECS engineers, who implemented the idea to support completely different processors. But on the other hand, it's hard to think of reasons to buy this motherboard, because of its low results with Intel processors. It's certainly an extreme hybrid, but the ECS PF88 will hardly become a bestseller. Intel fans will most likely focus on other models (for obvious reasons), while AMD zealots will hardly agree to cram PC cases with the large ECS SIMA A9S expansion card.
The motherboard is kindly provided by the manufacturer
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