The BIOS found on this motherboard is quite similar to those found on other ECS products. There are all of the standard options one would expect along with the system hardware monitoring support. Through the Motherboard Intelligent BIOS II area there are all of the overclocking options for the CPU and memory. The CPU voltage can be increased up to +165mV while the memory can be pushed up to +150mV. M.I.B. II works fairly well on this motherboard and others and is easy to use for the novice overclocker just looking to up their voltages a little and the reference clock.
Our test system consisted of an AMD Phenom II X3 710 processor, 2GB of OCZ DDR3-1333MHz memory, a 250GB Seagate ST3250310AS SATA HDD, and we used the integrated ATI Radeon HD 4200 graphics with 256MB of video memory.
Similar to other recent AMD 700 Series motherboards, when we attempted to boot the Ubuntu 9.04 desktop LiveCD to install Ubuntu Linux to the system, we ended up being dropped back to BusyBox no matter the BIOS settings. However, when switching to a snapshot of Ubuntu 9.10, the LiveCD booted flawlessly and we had no problems with the installation. All of the key onboard components had also worked with the AMD 785G motherboard "out of the box". For the Radeon HD 4200 integrated graphics, there is 2D / X-Video acceleration available for this chipset while the initial 3D support in Mesa is not enabled for Ubuntu 9.10 but will be for Ubuntu 10.04 LTS. Using the AMD Catalyst 9.10 driver or later works just fine with Ubuntu 9.10 and this AMD IGP.
While overclocking is not our core focus, we had not any problems hitting 3.50GHz on this 2.6GHz tri-core processor. Certainly, with additional tweaking and after-market cooling it could potentially be pushed further, but we are pleased for this ECS motherboard. For those interested in using LM_Sensors with this motherboard, the only sensor that was detected was a virtual device on the ACPI bus, but none of the hardware sensors whether it is for the temperature, fan speeds, or voltages had worked with LM_Sensors in Ubuntu 9.10.
The tests we ran through the Phoronix Test Suite on the ECS A785GM-M with Ubuntu 9.10 included VDrift, World of Padman, GraphicsMagick, John The Ripper, Parallel BZIP2 Compression, LAME MP3 encoding, POV-Ray, NAS Parallel Benchmarks, and Stream. For comparison we also retested an ASRock M3A780GXH/128M, which uses the AMD 780G Chipset with the integrated Radeon HD 3200 graphics, while the rest of the system was maintained the same. The performance though between these two systems should largely be identical due to few differences between the two motherboard chipsets. The Ubuntu 9.10 development snapshot used had contained the Linux 2.6.31 kernel (x86_64), GNOME 2.28.0, X Server 1.6.3, Catalyst 9.10, GCC 4.4.1, and an EXT4 file-system.