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ECS GF8200A Motherboard

Full ATX, HDMI, eSATA... And skimp on the rest.

August 27, 2008



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The AMD 780G chipset dominates the segment of integrated motherboards for the AMD platform. But as we had expected, GeForce 8200 also found its niche and became a foundation of many motherboards. On the face of things, we are surprised to see so many full-size motherboards, as the chipset was designed for quite a different segment: office and entry-level computers. However, the explanation is simple. Chipsets designed for such motherboards (nForce 730a/750a) were launched much later. Besides, they are more expensive, while GeForce 8200 is affordable and widely available.

At the same time, the idea to buy a full-size integrated motherboard with a digital output (so that you can connect a decent LCD monitor) for an inexpensive computer is getting increasingly popular. Even the most inexpensive graphics card does not come free of charge, and it grows hot during operation. So even if your graphics card is cooled passively, it may still affect the overall noise level of the cooling system, because enclosure fans will operate at higher speed. And most importantly, why buy a discrete motherboard and a graphics card, if you are not going to play games? ECS is well aware of requirements of budget PC buyers. At least, judging by the abundance of motherboards with this very market positioning. Let's see what the company has to offer this time.



This motherboard looks very much like ECS A780GM-A. By the way, it also belongs to Black Series. But note that we have failed to find any signs (except for the black PCB color) of a "not-quite-budget" solution, which ECS intended to group into this series. In case of the aforementioned ECS A780GM-A, additional features include integrated GPU overclocking. We've never come across this option in motherboards based on GeForce 8200.

We have no gripes with the PCB design, as in case of the above mentioned motherboard. It seems that a motherboard based on a single-bridge chipset is easier to lay out to avoid any assemblage collisions. IDE, FDD, and both power connectors are placed in the most convenient places of usual locations. It will be possible to plug hard drives to SATA ports no matter how large your graphics card is.



The chipset does not grow very hot, its low-profile heatsink is rather big. As this motherboard cannot be overclocked, there is no need to provide any safety margin in this case.



The 4-phase switching voltage regulator incorporates three field-effect transistors per channel in three channels responsible for CPU power supply. Another channel, responsible for powering the on-chip memory controller, has two transistors. Besides, it includes six 820 uF capacitors from Sanyo and four 270 uF ones made by Cheng Tung. It's not a redundant circuit compared to competing products, which actively use 5-phase regulators, or install four transistors per channel in 4-phase ones. However, considering that the motherboard officially supports only processors with TDP up to 95 W, this solution is quite sufficient. Motherboard dimensions -- 305x220 mm (narrow ATX, six-screw mount, the right edge of the motherboard is loose.


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