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ECS PF5 Extreme

Michael Larabel

Published on 24 February 2006
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 2 of 11 - Comment On This Article

Board Layout:

Beginning our board examination as usual in the upper right hand corner of the motherboard, the first ASIC of noteworthy interest began with the Winbond W83627THF. This Super I/O controller is placed above the four DDR2 slots, which are positioned vertically on the motherboard, and is nested in the very corner of the PCB. The system memory slots support up to 4GB of RAM running at DDR2-667/533 speeds. This is as opposed to the Intel 955X and 975X Chipsets, which boast support for 8GB of DDR2. Lying adjacent to the four 240-pin DDR2 slots is the FDD, IDE ATA-100, and 24-pin power connectors. The ATX motherboard connector is compatible with both 20/24-pin power supply units. Beneath the system memory area is the Southbridge, which as mentioned, is the Intel ICH7R. The 82801GR ICH7R provides capabilities for four Serial ATA 2.0 ports, Intel Matrix Storage Technology, 6 PCI, Intel Active Management Technology, Intel PRO/1000 LAN, 6 PCI Express x1, 8 USB 2.0, and Intel High Definition Audio.


Covering the Southbridge is a relatively small aluminum heatsink, which is attached to the PCB through eyehole latches in two opposing corners. The petite heatsink is intelligently designed, and its fins are "EXTREME" lettering which extrudes from the passive heatsink in a circular fashion. Also in this lower corner of the motherboard are a 3-pin system fan header, six Serial ATA 2.0 headers, CMOS battery, front panel header, CMOS jumper, USB headers, and AMI BIOS chip. As the ICH7R is only able to provide four SATA ports, ECS turned to Silicon Image and their Sil3132 PCI Express controller to provide an additional two ports. The CMOS battery is perpindicular against the motherboard's PCB, and the CMOS jumper comes equipped with a large jumper cap. Provided on the motherboard are two USB 2.0 headers, while further down along the edge of the PCB is a single IEEE-1394a header. The second system fan header accompanies the Firewire connection. Moving onto the expansion slots are two PCI Express x16, one PCI Express x1, and three PCI slots. Unfortunately, the i945P is not compatible with NVIDIA's Scalable Link Interface or ATI's CrossFire; however, the motherboard does support DGE, or rather known as Dual Graphics Engine from ECS. This DGE simply means that a greater amount of monitors can be added to the system using regular graphics cards, and does nothing in the way of further utilizing a multi-GPU like solution on a single-head setup. The PCI Express x1 slot is disabled upon installing any devices in both of the PCI Express x16 slots. As can be noticed from the pictures, there is a single PCI slot on the motherboard, which is colored yellow. ECS has dubbed this yellow PCI slot PCI Extreme, which is meant to provide ultra signal quality for outstanding audio and video card performance (when a PCI audio/video card is installed). Near these expansion slots is ECS Elitegroup's Doctor LED, which is a fuzzy logic design for diagnosing PCI slot health. Other onboard components include a VIA VT6307 2-port IEEE-1394a Firewire controller, Marvell Yukon 88E8053 PCI Express Gigabit LAN, Realtek ALC880, and Realtek RTL8100C. Unfortunately, both of these network interfaces are not Gigabit but only the Marvell ASIC, while the Realtek is limited to 10/100 speeds. Above the primary PCI Express x16 slot is a 4-pin molex connector for use with systems that are utilizing dual PCI-E graphics cards in order to provide sufficent power.


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