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ECS GF8200A Motherboard

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

August 27, 2008



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Settings


Jumpers and switchesClear CMOS jumper 
USB-PWR R jumperWake on USB for back-panel ports
USB-PWR F jumperWake on USB for ports on brackets
AMI BIOS 2.61 Allows to disable specific CPU functions + Cool'n'Quiet
Memory timings +

CAS Latency, RAS to CAS Delay, Row Precharge Time, Min RAS Active Time, Row Cycle Time, and additional timings

Memory frequency selection + Auto, 200, 266, 333, 400, 533 MHz (the effective frequency is twice as high, you actually specify a multiplier to the FSB frequency)
HT bus setup + Auto, 200, 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1200, 1400, 1600, 1800, 2000, 2200, 2400, 2600 MHz (you actually specify a multiplier to the FSB frequency)
PCI IRQ manual assignment -  
FSB frequency setup + 200--600 MHz at 1 MHz steps
CPU multiplier -  
CPU voltage control + 0.800--1.550 V at 0.025 V steps
Memory voltage control + 1.90--2.40 V at 0.07 V steps
Chipset voltage control + 1.13--1.24 V at 0.04 V steps
HT bus voltage control + 1.20--1.35 V at 0.05 V steps

We used BIOS dated 28.05.2008, the latest release version. The mentioned BIOS parameters are available in this version, but the viability of non-standard settings hasn't been tested.

Necessary options for moderate overclocking are all here, but the motherboard itself is too weak for overclocking experiments.

Overclocking

In order to evaluate motherboard and its BIOS, we overclock our testbed processor to a maximum stable level. We use all features of the motherboard in this test, including raising CPU voltage and adjusting multipliers and frequencies of system and peripheral buses, if necessary (but if, for example, reducing Hyper-Transport frequency does not improve overclocking, we leave the default multiplier). Memory is set to the standard frequency for a given memory module (multiplier correction), if a manufacturer does not publish any ways to improve memory overclocking. Otherwise, we analyze their efficiency as well. In order to evaluate stability of the overclocked system, we load Windows XP and run WinRAR performance test for 10 minutes (Tools -- Benchmark and hardware test). As overclocking potential is an individual property of a given motherboard sample to some degree, we don't set the task to determine overclocking potential to within a single MHz. In practice, we are to find out whether CPU overclocking will be limited by a motherboard as well as to evaluate its behavior in non-standard modes, including automatic restoration of a correct frequency after a failed overclocking attempt, etc.


  Clock, MHz FSB Clock, MHz Core voltage (according to system monitoring in BIOS), V HT bus frequency (multiplier), MHz
Athlon 64 X2 4000+ (2.0 GHz) 2200 220 1.40 1100 (x5)

A low overclocking result. The motherboard apparently lacks the option for separate clock control of the integrated GPU, which cuts the overclocking potential down to minimum (with an installed graphics card and disabled integrated core, its potential grows to 2600 MHz, which is still not very good, considering that the product formally offers all options to raise frequencies and voltages). It's a drawback. But if we take into account the weak CPU voltage regulator and support for processors with TDP only up to 95 W, we are not surprised to see this result.

Performance

Testbed configuration

  • CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 4000+
  • Memory: 2 x 1 GB Kingston KHX7200D2K2/1G (DDR2-800)
  • HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 (SATA, 7200 rpm)
  • Graphics card: ATI Radeon HD 3870, 512 MB GDDR4
  • Power supply unit: Chieftec CFT-560-A12C
  • OS: Windows XP SP2

We compared our product under review with the previously examined ASUS M3N78-EMH HDMI motherboard on the same chipset.


Test Integrated graphics Discrete graphics
ASUS M3N78-EMH HDMI ECS GF8200A ASUS M3N78-EMH HDMI ECS GF8200A
Archiving with WinRAR, min:sec 2:39 2:36 2:39 2:34
MPEG4 (XviD) encoding, min:sec 6:07 6:08 6:03 6:03
Unreal Tournament 2004 (Medium@800x600), fps 45.1 37.0 58.2 58.3
Unreal Tournament 2004 (High@1024x768), fps 35.7 25.6 58.3 58.4
FarCry (Medium@800x600), fps 61.0 48.3 107.0 111.9
FarCry (High@1024x768), fps 41.6 32.3 103.6 105.0
DOOM III (Medium@800x600), fps 40.0 31.0 133.8 133.4
DOOM III (High@1024x768), fps 26.2 20.4 135.5 136.5

Our performance tests demonstrate apparent lagging in games with integrated graphics enabled, which probably means reduced frequencies -- of a graphics core in this case. Perhaps, this is how ECS engineers made this motherboard different from ECS A780GM-A, which core operated at the nominal frequency by default.

Conclusions

On the whole, this motherboard will do for a widely expandable computer, for which ATX form-factor allows. The exception is the declocked integrated graphics core not suitable for games or video applications. This motherboard caters only for the thrifty user's "serious" needs.

At the same time, this motherboard does not offer enough features to become a Black Series model. In particular, it must be much cheaper than ECS A780GM-A to become a justified choice. And this condition is a hard one, considering that it's quite cheap already.


ATI Radeon HD 3870 provided by PowerColor,
Motherboard provided by the manufacturer.

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Article navigation:

Page 1: Introduction, design

Page 2: Interfaces, package, controllers

Page 3: BIOS, overclocking, performance



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