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ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme GANK Machine Motherboard Review

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ECS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ECS

ECS seems to like gold and catchy titles. Building on the reputation of their previous generation Z77-based Golden Board series, ECS designed the Z87-based Z87H3-A2X Extreme to dominate the competition. ECS liberally spread the gold, giving all capacitors and connection pins a nice 24k coating. They even include a small fan hidden under the upper VRM heat sink for active heat pipe cooling. At an MSRP of $239.99, ECS priced the Z87H3-A2X Extreme board to aggressively compete with other manufacturers' high end offerings.

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Courtesy of ECS

ECS integrated a full 12 digital power phases into the board's CPU power regulation system for optimal stability and power delivery under the most demanding circumstances. The features designed into the Z87H3-A2X Extreme include: nine SATA 6Gb/s ports; mPCIe/mSATA port; dual Realtek GigE NICs; three PCI-Express x16 slots for up to tri-card support; one PCI-Express x1 slot; one PCI slot; on-board power, reset, BIOS reset, Boot to BIOS, BIOS backup, 80P, and Quick-OC buttons; 3-digit diagnostic LED display; integrated voltage measurement points; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support. The 80P button configures what information displays on the diagnostic display once the board has successfully initialized.

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Courtesy of ECS

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Courtesy of ECS

As part of their L337 Gaming series boards, ECS redesigned the power delivery and integrated cooling solutions for a better gaming experience. The Z87H3-A2X Extreme has the latest generation cooling technology encompassed in ECS' QoolTech V. Additionally, all VRM-related power components have been cherry picked by ECS for operationally longevity under extreme duress.

Continue reading our review of the ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme motherboard!

Technical Specifications (taken from the ECS website)

CPU

º Supports new 4th gen Intel® Core™ family, Pentium, Celeron series processors in LGA1150 socket
º DMI 5.0GT/s
º TDP: 200W
º 12 Phase Thermal Design Power
º VRD 12.5
º 100% Solid capacitor design
º Supports Intel® Turbo Boost 2.0 Technology
º Supports Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology
º Intel® K Series Unlock CPU Support
º Please refer to CPU support list for details

CHIPSET

º Intel® Z87 Express Chipset
º Intel® Smart Response Technology, Intel® Smart Connect Technology & Intel® Rapid Start Technology

GRAPHICS

º Support Intel® HD Graphics 4000(Intel 4th gen CPU)
º Supports DirectX® 11 .1
º *DirectX 11.1 - Only supported with the 4rd Gen Intel processors for LGA 1150 socket
º Supports Intel® HD Graphics, InTru™ 3D, Quick Sync Video, Clear Video HD Technology, Insider™
º Supports HDMI 1.4a & Premium Audio
º Supports LucidLogiX® Virtu™ MVP
º Supports NVIDIA® 2-Way SLI
º Supports ATI® 3-Way CrossFireX™
º Supports Full HD 1080P Blu-ray / HD-DVD Playback

MEMORY

º Dual-channel DDR3 Memory architecture
º Supports DDR3 1600/1333/1066 non-ECC, Un-buffered SDRAM Memory
º Supports up to 3000(OC),2933(OC),2800(OC)
º 4 X 240-pin DDR3 DIMM socket
º Support up to 32 GB*
º Intel® extreme Memory Profile (XMP) 1.3/1.2 Memory Modules
º Note:Please refer to the latest Memory support list for details
º Note: DDR3_1 with DDR3_3 are the same channel, DDR3_2 with DDR3_4 are the same channel by Intel® Specification

EXPANSION SLOT

º 3 X PCI Express X16 Gen 3.0 slot(s)
º 1 X PCI Express X 1 slot(s)
º Supports NVIDIA® SLI Technology
º Supports ATI® CrossfireX Technology
º 1 X Mini PCI Express X1 slot(s)( Mini SATA supported)
º 1 X PCI slot(s)
º *When using two VGA cards, the bandwidth is @8 bandwidth; when using one VGA card, the bandwidth is @16.

Storage

º Support by Intel® Z87 Express Chipset
º Support by ASM1061 Controller
• 7 X Serial ATAIII 6Gb/s
Located in SATA1, SATA2...SATA7 Port
• 2 X eSATAIII 6Gb/s
• RAID0, RAID1,RAID5, RAID 10 configuration
º Supports Intel® Rapid Storage Technology
º Supports NCQ, AHCI and "Hot Plug" functions

Audio

º 8-Channel HD audio CODEC
º Compliant with HD audio specification
º Realtek ALC1150+ALC5505 8-channel High Definition audio CODEC
º BluRay DVD/HD DVD support

LAN

º Dual Realtek 8111G Gigabit Fast Ethernet Controller
º Wake-On-LAN
º Dual LAN with Teaming function
º Ultra low power consumption

Wireless

º Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n wireless LAN

Bluetooth

º Supports Bluetooth V2.0

USB

º Support by Z87 Express Chipset
• 6 X USB3.0 port(s) up to 5Gb/s
Back Panel 4 port(s)
Onboard 2 port(s)
• 8 X USB2.0 port(s) Up to 480 Mb/s
Back Panel 4 port(s)
Onboard 4 port(s)
º ECS EZ Charger (Gray USB header)

REAR PANEL I/O

º 1 X Audio port (Line-in,4x Line-out, SPDIF out)
º 2 X RJ-45 port with teaming function
º 1 X HDMI port(s)
º 1 X Display port
º 1 X Wireless LAN Dongle
º 1 X Bluetooth Dongle
º 2 X eSATA 6Gb/s port(s)
º 4 X USB3.0 port(s)
º 4 X USB2.0 port(s)
º 1 X Clear_CMOS Button

CONNECTORS & HEADERSs

º 1 X 24-pin ATX Power Supply connector
º 1 X 8-pin ATX 12V Power Connector
º 1 X 4-pin CPU_FAN connector
º 1 X 4-pin SYS_FAN connector
º 1 X 3-pin PWR_FAN connector
º 1 X Power on button
º 1 X Reset button
º 1 X Clear_CMOS button
º 1 X Front Panel switch/LED header
º 1 X Front panel audio header
º 1 X Onboard Buzzer
º 1 X USB 3.0 header
• Support additional 2 USB ports
º 2 X USB 2.0 header
• Support additional 4 USB ports
º Support EZ charger (gray color)
º 1 X CLR_CMOS header
º 1 X Serial port header (COM)
º 1 X mSATA connector
º 1 X 7S-LED Display
º 1 X ME_UNLOCK header
º 1 X Chassis intrusion header
º 1 X Voltage measure points
º 1 X 80P Switch button
º 1 X Quick OC button
º 1 X BIOS set button
º 1 X ROM Backup button

SYSTEM BIOS

º AMI BIOS with 64x2 MB SPI Flash ROM
º Supports M.I.B X Utility
º Supports ACPI 3.0 & DMI
º F7 hot key for boot up devices option
º Over-Clocking
º Graphic OC Support
º Dual Display
º Support ECS EZ BIOS
º Plug and Play, STR (S3) / STD (S4) , Hardware monitor, Multi Boot
º Multi-Language BIOS
º Audio, LAN, can be disabled in BIOS
º Dual BIOS
º Dual-Monitor function

FORM FACTOR

º ATX Form Factor
º 305mm(W) X 244mm(H)

OS Support

º Windows 7 32-bit
º Windows 7 64-bit
º Windows 8 32-bit
º Windows 8 64-bit

Certifications

º CE/FCC Certification
º ErP/EuP Certification
º WHCK Certification

Bundled Software

º ECS Intelligent EZ Utility : eBLU, eDLU, eOC, eSF
º Free Bundle: Norton Internet Security ,CyberLink PowerDVD, CyberLink PowerDirector 9, Muzee with trial version
º Creative Sound Blaster Cinema software

 

September 16, 2013 | 02:52 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Sounds like a pile of gank to me.

September 16, 2013 | 03:44 PM - Posted by Lance Ripplinger (not verified)

Great review Morry. I just wanted to point out an error in your article: GIGABYTE includes only the bare minimum needed to get the board functional. Shouldn't "Gigabyte" say "ECS"? LOL

September 16, 2013 | 03:46 PM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

Thanks for pointing that out...

September 16, 2013 | 06:42 PM - Posted by Daniel Masterson (not verified)

You just got *puts on sunglasses* ganked. YEEEOOOWWWW!

September 17, 2013 | 08:12 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I was really thinking this would be a good motherboard, until the picture showing the gfx card next to the cooler. This made me realise that the pcie slot is placed right at the top of the board.

Not only does this mean you can install some gfx cards with large backplates (think msi lightening with the addon board) but also it means on many cases you cant plug cables intot the gfx card as the space between the top of the cases surround of the expansion slots gets in the way (mainly due to thickness of cable connectors).

This will definately stop me from buying this, everything else seemed so great too. Oh dear.

September 17, 2013 | 01:07 PM - Posted by razor512

Whats with companies in putting nameplates on heatsinks designed for passive cooling. My old m4a78 plus got a 15c drop in temperature on the northbridge when I pried the name plate off.

The side panel fan then did a better job at cooling the motherboard.

Covering the top of a heatsinks only increases cooling performance when you have active airflow in the direction of the fins (eg taping some cardboard to the top of the xbox 360 heatsinks lowers the temperature)

But if airflow is coming from the top then it significantly reduces performance.

September 18, 2013 | 12:08 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Are you Ganking my chain...I thought they were out of business...my first build 13 yrs ago was an ECS.

September 18, 2013 | 12:11 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

AMD Athlon ! LOL

September 18, 2013 | 05:33 PM - Posted by Patrick3D (not verified)

What a terrible name for a motherboard, it should be a big hit with 12 year old pant saggers.

September 19, 2013 | 12:33 AM - Posted by Penterax (not verified)

Indeed; the name puts this in the "will not buy I don't care how good it is" category.

September 27, 2013 | 10:25 AM - Posted by Activate: AMD (not verified)

Good piece, but the watermarks in the photos are incredibly distracting. I know you want to protect your property, but they're too much.

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