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ECS HDC-I Fusion Mini ITX Motherboard Review

Author: Steve Grever
Subject: Motherboards

Features, Layout, Included Extras

Features

Blu-ray

With integrated graphics core, the motherboard delivers better HD video quality along with best-in-class 3D performance. Smoothly playback all H.264, VC-1, and MPEG-2 video with minimal CPU usage so the PC is free to do other work.  

 

SATA 6Gb/s

Doubles the transfer speed of SATA 3G, running at speed up to 6.0Gb/s, and can connect with any other SATA 3.0Gb/s and 1.5Gb/s devices for backward compatibility.  

 

eSATA 6Gb/s

eSATA III with 6Gb/s data transfer rate can promise substantial performance gain to a new hard drive enclosure. The data transfer rate is double than previous SATA II(3Gb/s) and also supports external HDD hot plug and keyed connector end for fool-proof.  

 

8 Channel High Definition Audio

Integrated 8-channel HD Audio CODEC delivering advanced multi-channel audio and bringing you the experience of home theater-quality sound.  

 

USB 3.0

The latest generation Super Speed USB 3.0 Card is able to transfer data 10 times faster than USB 2.0. An innovative power management system provide better energy saving and carry more power to recharge more USB rechargeable devices. USB 3.0 Card is compatible with USB 2.0 to add more convenience and excellent performance.  

 

HDMI Output

The interface supports existing high-definition video formats(720p, 1080i, and even 1080p), plus multi-channel digital audio on a single cable. Combination with HDCP, provides a secure audio/video interface that meets the security requirements of content providers and systems operators.  

 

eBLU - BIOS Live Update Utility

ECS eBLU utility makes updating BIOS fast and easy. eBLU saves time and hassle of searching for BIOS online and avoid complicated flashing steps. With simple and easy steps it checks for new BIOS version on-line and safely guides the user to flash the system BIOS.  

 

eDLU - Drivers Live Update Utility

ECS eDLU utility makes updating Drivers fast and easy. eDLU Saves time and hassle of searching for Drivers online and avoid complicated steps. With simple and easy steps it checks for new Drivers version on-line and let the user to update the Drivers.  

 

eSF(ECS Smart Fan Utility)

ECS Smart Fan Utility provides smart and user friendly way to adjust fan speed depending on PCs system loading and temperature. It offers five modes to adjust fan speed within safe range without entering BIOS for smart, easy and silent environment.  

 

Bluetooth Technology

Supports Bluetooth v2.1+ EDR technology, which is easier to connect devices to improve the paring experience on Bluetooth and increasing the use and strength of security. Bluetooth v2.1+ EDR also provides faster data transfer and able to reach 3Mbps with reduced power consumption and improved security. It also offers you a better wireless life.

 

Motherboard Layout

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ECS created a clean look for the HDC-I's retail packaging that gives consumers the basics about what the motherboard offers. The front panel feature a little information about the board's integrated graphics, wireless, bluetooth, blu-ray, and USB 3.0 capabilities. 

 

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The back panel of the board's retail packaging includes more detailed information the rest of the features that come with the HDC-I. They also added a small studio photo of the board itself to let PC builders see how the board is layed out before they decide to purchase it.

 

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After removing the board from its retail packaging, I finally got a good look at the entire layout of the HDC-I. ECS included a relatively massive heatsink over the APU and a small fan to help exhaust heat. they also were able to add one PCI-E slot and two DIMMs that support DDR3 800/1066 memory. The board only requires one 24-pin power connector, which is good news for mini ITX users looking for an energy-efficient solution. Overall, the entire layout of the HDC-I looks pretty organized and includes many options that users are looking for in a mini ITX motherboard.

 

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The back of the PCB doesn't have any features worth noting except that ECS added small descriptions for the HDMI,  DVI, eSATA, Gigabit LAN, and 8-channel audio jacks located on the back I/O panel.

 

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Speaking of the back I/O panel, ECS many audio and video options that should make the HDC-I an attractive board for consumers. The back I/O panel includes six USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, one eSATA port, DVI, VGA, HDMI, Bluetooth, and eight-channel audio. 

 

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ECS was able to squeeze a PCI-E x16 slot and a mini PCI-E x1 slot onto the PCB to give users a couple options for add-on graphics and sound cards. The included PCI-E x16 slot's bandwidth is around x4, which might hamper how graphics cards perform during high-definition games and movies.

 

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The HDC-I also includes two USB headers for four USB 2.0 devices and a front audio header for high-definition audio devices. 

 

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This custom expansion slot is where users will install the included AzureWave 802.11 b/g/n mini wireless card that comes standard with the HDC-I.

 

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ECS included two DIMMS that support up to 8GBs of DDR3 800/1066 memory. This isn't much memory support by today's standards, but should be more than adequate for home theater PCs, basic gaming systems, and file servers.

 

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Lastly, there are four SATA 6GB/s ports available on the HDC-I, but no RAID support through the AMD A50M chipset.

 

Included Extras

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ECS bundled several accessories with the HDC-I including these four SATA data cables.

 

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To go with the PCB's black theme, ECS also painted the backplate that covers the I/O panel black as well. It's great to see all the components and accessories using the same color scheme, which helps users who like consistent colors in their rigs.

 

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ECS also included a mini wireless card, antenna, and two PCI brackets for normal and low profile systems. Very nice.

 

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Here's a close-up shot of the mini wireless card that's bundled with the HDC-I.

 

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This quick installation guide is in full color and has detailed photos for each step in the installation process.

 

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Lastly, ECS included a basic user's guide and driver DVD to complete the bundled accessories. Overall, I was thrilled to see so many accessories bundled with this board and it should attract more consumers looking for a feature-rich board and other goodies to sweeten the deal.

September 12, 2011 | 08:45 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Great review, any news on how the AW-NE139 performs for wifi transfers and stability? I have a Zotac MAG and the Azurewave AR5B95 card in it is terrible.

September 13, 2011 | 09:40 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

that was the crappiest review I have read. The amount of details you went into was only slightly better than nil. Not even sure how you manage to maintain a website.

Here's one glaring example, since you overclocked it where are the performance figures?

September 14, 2011 | 05:07 PM - Posted by pben

I have been thinking about building a theater PC using something like this. The question is the cost of new hardware and lower power over using old hardware and high power cost. So far I have opted for older hardware.

As for the anonymous comment on overclocking: if you are interested in that then you don't get the point of a system like this. The point is to use low power and heat. If you want to overclock get a bigger board. The overclocking was thrown in just because it is usually thrown in to reviews on this site. From a floating point operations per second point of view these systems are a joke. The point is to use just enough electricity to get the media playing without dropping frames.

September 17, 2011 | 06:30 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

BIOS instead of UEFI?

September 24, 2011 | 01:22 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Interesting, but the overclocking capability of this board is amazing, probably the best I ever seen for a E-350 board, I think the result deserves more attention and praise, also to explore the performance potential with this very significant OC would be nice...

November 5, 2011 | 10:00 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I'm writing this reply from ECS HDC-I board and i must say, I can't find that option in BIOS, there is no such thing as "turbo mode", and there is no BIOS download from ECS site so I guess we all have the same BIOS. I bought the board because of this, but unfortunately, something must have gone wrong...

November 6, 2011 | 12:04 PM - Posted by Jeremy Hellstrom

It should be under the last tab in the BIOS, Frequency and Voltage control.

Maybe you can find more here? http://www.ecsusa.com/ECSWebSite/Product/Product_Detail.aspx?DetailID=12...

November 19, 2011 | 02:45 PM - Posted by foster (not verified)

Can anyone save the new BIOS version, and send it to us? He can use this program: http://downloads.zotac.com/mediadrivers/mb/bios/pa192.zip

Thank you, and sorry for the bad English (google translate )
P.S. No BIOS on the ECS website!

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