iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






ECS A740GM-A Motherboard on AMD 740G Chipset (Socket AM2+)

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System monitoring (ITE IT8726F-S, according to BIOS Setup):

  • CPU and memory voltages
  • Rotational speed of the CPU fan
  • CPU temperature (by the embedded CPU sensor)
  • Smart Fan, automatic control of a CPU fan; you can specify a temperature threshold, when the system starts adjusting fan speed, and a temperature, when the fan accelerates to its full speed. Fan speed between these values grows according to the Fan Slope value (how much fan speed grows per each degree). Only 4-pin fans can be controlled.

Onboard ports, sockets, and connectors

  • Processor socket (Socket AM2, officially supports AMD Phenom (Hyper-Transport clock rate will be limited to 1000 MHz) and Athlon 64/X2/Sempron processors for this socket with TDP below 95 W); the list of products, tested for compatibility, is published on the web site
  • 2 x DDR2 SDRAM DIMM (up to 16 GB DDR2-400/533/667/800, dual channel mode), the list of compatible devices is published on the web site
  • 1 x PCIEx16
  • 1 x PCIEx1
  • 2 x PCI
  • Power connectors: standard ATX 2.2 (24 pins, you can use a usual 20-pin connector), a 4-pin ATX12V connector for a processor
  • IDE (Parallel ATA) for two ATA133 devices - "chipset-based"
  • 6 x SATA II (Serial ATA II) for six SATA300 devices, chipset-based, connected drives can form RAID 0, 1, and 0+1
  • 3 connectors for rear panel brackets with 6 x USB
  • 1 x CD/DVD audio connector
  • Connectors for analog audio ins and outs on the front panel
  • Connector for a bracket with S/PDIF-Out
  • Connector for a bracket with an LPT port
  • IrDA connector
  • Two fan headers, CPU fan speed can be controlled manually and automatically in BIOS.

Back panel (left to right, blockwise)

Click for the rear view.

  • PS/2 mouse and keyboard
  • COM
  • VGA, DVI-D
  • 2 x USB
  • 2 x USB and 1 x RJ-45 (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • 3 x Analog Audio (Line-In, Front-Out, Mic-In)

Package contents

  • Package: a small box of the original design in a light palette
  • Documentation: User's Manual and a poster in many languages with installation instructions
  • Cables: 1 x SATA, 1 x ATA66
  • Rear I/O shield
  • CD with drivers; the disc label runs that it contains precious software, but we found nothing but Adobe Acrobat Reader and Yahoo TV.

This bundle does not include a proprietary utility for updating BIOS and system drivers, which can also search for the latest versions on the manufacturer's web site. However, all BIOS packages on the web site include the standard AMI utility to flash BIOS in Windows.

Integrated controllers

  • Audio, based on the chipset support for HD Audio and IDT 92HD202 codec, 5.1 channel audio, front line-ins/outs, S/PDIF-Out, and CD-In
  • Gigabit Ethernet 10/100/1000 Mbps based on PCIE controller Atheros Attansic L1.

The integrated audio quality was tested in 16 bit 44 kHz mode using RightMark Audio Analyzer 6.0.5 and the ESI Juli@ sound card:

Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB: +0.35, -0.07 Good
Noise level, dB (A): -88.3 Good
Dynamic range, dB (A): 88.3 Good
THD, %: 0.036 Good
THD + Noise, %: -66.3 Average
Intermodulation distortion + Noise, %: 0.031 Good
Channel crosstalk, dB: -90.5 Excellent
IMD at 10 kHz, %: 0.143 Average

General performance: Good. The most noticeable drawback of the IDT codec (clipped low frequencies) has been eliminated this time. But on the average, this codec offers lower audio quality than popular Realtek chips. It will do only for office computers, but the motherboard does not pretend to anything more.

BIOS settings

Jumpers and switches Clear CMOS jumper  
USB-PWR R jumper Wake on USB for the ports installed on the rear panel
Two USB-PWR F jumpers Wake on USB for the ports installed on brackets
AMI BIOS 2.61 Allows to disable specific CPU functions + Cool'n'Quiet
Memory timings -  
Memory frequency selection -  
HT bus setup + Auto, 200-1000 MHz at 200 MHz steps (you actually specify a multiplier to the FSB frequency)
PCI IRQ manual assignment -  
FSB frequency setup + 200-500 MHz at 1 MHz steps
CPU multiplier + from x4 at x0.5 steps
CPU voltage control -  
Memory voltage control + 1.80-1.95 V at 0.05 V steps

We used BIOS dated 03.10.2008, the latest release version. The mentioned BIOS parameters are available in this version, but the viability of non-standard settings hasn't been tested.

The motherboard is not designed for overclocking. However, its BIOS allows to raise CPU clock rate a little without raising core voltage.

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Article navigation:

Page 1: Introduction, design

Page 2: Monitoring, interfaces, box, BIOS

Page 3: O/c, performance, conclusions

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