iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






ECS A790GXM-A Motherboard

Full ATX, SidePort, CrossFire and dual LAN.

October 23, 2008

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System monitoring (ITE IT8726F-S, BIOS Setup)

  • CPU and memory voltages
  • Rotational speed of CPU and two system fans
  • CPU and board temperatures (by the corresponding embedded sensors)
  • Smart Fan, automatic control of a CPU fan; you can specify a temperature threshold, when the system starts adjusting fan speed, and Start PWM Value (minimum fan speed until the temperature threshold is crossed). Fan speed 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, compatible with AM2+, officially supports all AMD Phenom and Athlon 64/X2/FX/Sempron processors for this socket, the list of models tested for compatibility is published on the official website)
  • 4 x DDR2 SDRAM DIMM (up to 16 GB of DDR2-400/533/667/800/1066, dual-channel mode, the list of compatible devices is here
  • 2 x PCIEx16 2.0
  • 2 x PCIEx1 2.0
  • 2 x PCI
  • Power connectors: standard ATX 2.2 (24 pins) and 8-pin EPS12V to power 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, 0+1, and 5
  • 3 connectors for rear panel brackets with 6 x USB
  • Connectors for analog audio ins and outs on the front panel
  • Connector for a bracket with S/PDIF-Out
  • Three fan headers, CPU fan speed (4-pin) can be controlled manually and automatically in BIOS.

Back panel (left to right, blockwise)

  • PS/2 mouse and keyboard
  • VGA, COM
  • HDMI, 2 x USB
  • 2 x USB and 1 x RJ-45 (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • 2 x USB and 1 x RJ-45 (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • 5 x Analog Audio (Center/Sub, Side-Out, Rear-Out, Line-In, Front-Out) and optical S/PDIF-Out.

Package contents

  • Package: a small box of the Black Series design, this series includes ECS motherboards on medium-price chipsets (unlike the Extreme Series) for common users. However, owing to the full-size design and rich peripheral interfaces, such motherboards will please so-called moderate enthusiasts, fastidious but thrifty
  • Documentation: User's Manual and a poster in many languages with installation instructions
  • Cables: 4 x SATA (with latches), 1 x ATA66
  • Rear I/O shield
  • CD with drivers and Adobe Acrobat Reader.

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 website. However, all BIOS packages on the website include the standard AMI utility to flash BIOS in Windows. Besides, the bundle lacks an HDMI-DVI adapter, owners of monitors with this still popular interface will have to buy it on their own (any standard adapter will do).

Integrated controllers

  • Audio, based on the chipset support for HD Audio and Realtek ALC888S codec, 7.1 channel audio, front line-ins/outs and S/PDIF-Out
  • 2 x Gigabit Ethernet 10/100/1000 Mbps, based on two Realtek RTL8111C PCIE controllers.

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: +0.02, -0.15 Very good
Noise level, dB (A): -86.3 Good
Dynamic range, dB (A): 86.1 Good
THD, %: 0.0062 Very good
THD + Noise, %: -78.7 Average
Intermodulation distortion + Noise, %: 0.017 Very good
Channel crosstalk, dB: -90.9 Excellent
IMD at 10 kHz, %: 0.017 Very good

General performance: Very good. The results are standard for this codec. Quite acceptable audio quality, digital output on the rear panel. In all, engineers coped well with this task.

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Page 1: Introduction, design

Page 2: Interfaces, package, controllers

Page 3: BIOS, performance, power consumption

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