ECS A890GXM-A MotherBoard
Feature-rich motherboard with impressive performance.
Good performance, feature rich, supports up to 3-way CrossFire, good overclocking options, pricing.
No USB 3.0 ports, on-board IGP only marginally better compared to the 785G.
Today we have a motherboard that won ECS the best design award at CES and is possibly one of the most feature-rich motherboards based on AMD's 890GX chipset that does not cost a bomb. The basic feature set remains the same as the 890FX ,which we've covered in detail in our Gigabyte review. The only major difference is the added on board graphics that AMD calls the HD4290. While this carries a higher number don't be fooled into thinking it's a lot more powerful than the previous 785G chipset, because its not. In fact, it's exactly the same with just an increase in clock speed. It still supports DX10.1, UVD 2.0 for H.264/VC1/MPEG-2 video decoding, etc.
The ECS A890GXM-A belongs to its Black series line up which means lots of overclocking and heavy duty cooling options. For started, apart from DVI and HDMI, this motherboard also supports DisplayPort for the onboard graphics. It also supports up to 3-way CrossFireX and Hybrid CrossFire. Apart from this you get the typical ECS features like eBLU Live BIOS update, eJIFFY, solid state capacitors, M.I.B III for precise overclocking.
Design and Layout :
The layout is good with all the ports being color coded. There is a massive heatsink with dual copper heatpipes to keep system temperatures under control. There are three PCIE slots, two of which are x16 while the third runs in 4X mode. There are also two PCI x1 slots and a standard PCI slot. The four memory slots can accept up to 32GB of DDR3 memory running at 1800MHz after overclocking of course.
The ports in the rear support almost every connection you'll ever need. There isn't however any PS2 port, so you won't be able to connect any older keyboards or mice.
The BIOS :
The BIOS is the place where the general user spends the least amount of time, while the enthusiast spends the most. It is here that you get a chance to overclock your hardware and this board comes with what ECS calls Motherboard Intelligent BIOS II or M.I.B. II, so let's take a look.
Motherboard Intelligent BIOS III (M.I.B. III)
The Motherboard Intelligent BIOS section lets you control the overclocking features of your system. We found that this board offers a limited possibility in this regard, but nevertheless, you can still overclock to a certain extent. You can adjust the performance level to Standard or Enhanced to let the BIOS determine the optimal overclocking values. You can overclock CPU as well as the memory within acceptable limits, and also tweak their voltages.
ECS motherboards have had eJiffy since last year and now it is featured on almost every motherboard they produce. eJiffy is a Linux distro that lets you boot even before entering your host OS in just a few seconds and do things such as access your data, surf the web, chat with your buddies, view pictures, etc. It has support for multiple languages including seven Indian languages.
eJiffy needs to be supported in the BIOS and you need to install the software on your hard drive. When the computer starts, you are provided with options to either enter the installed OS, eJiffy or the CMOS setup and you can use the keyboard cursor keys to select an option and press Enter. This motherboard comes with a disc to install eJiffy. You can also download the latest versions of eJiffy from the ECS website for free.
eBLU is a BIOS Live Update utility that works directly from within Windows. The good thing about it is that you no longer need to go to the website to search for the correct BIOS and then install it. eBLU does this all for you and you won't ever have to worry about spoiling the motherboard by accidentally flashing the wrong BIOS.
CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 965
RAM: Corsair 4GB XMS3
HDD: WD Raptor 300GB
GPU: XFX HD5830
PSU: CoolerMaster 1000W
Monitor: MoserBaer Full HD TV
For our gaming benchmarks we chose two real world games; World in Conflict and Resident Evil 5. We took two readings, one with the shared memory set to auto and the other with a fixed memory size. Surprisingly, we got a massive boost in performance in WIC with the fixed memory size of 256MB, so if you are going to use the IGP then we suggest you do this as it works wonders on the frame rate.
Power Consumption :
To test the power consumption we took the IDLE read and then ran the Everest stability test for the load reading. The first reading is with the HD5830.
IDLE : 87W
With the HD5830 removed, the power consumption has dropped quite a bit and these are the results we got.
IDLE : 58W
Pricing and Verdict :
The ECS A890GXM-A will cost you Rs. 7,500 with a three-year warranty which is a very good pricing considering the features this board has to offer. If you must have USB 3.0 then ECS has another version of the same board. The A890GXM-AU comes with a USB 3.0 PCI card for Rs.8,900.
Overall, we were impressed with the performance of this motherboard as well as the very attractive price tag on it. If you're looking for a feature-rich 890GX chipset without breaking the bank then this certainly fits the bill.