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ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme GANK Machine Motherboard Review

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ECS

CPU Cooler Fit and Included Accessories

CPU Cooler Fit

To test the amount of space surrounding the CPU socket, we mounted the Noctua NH-D14 cooler to the CPU socket. This behemoth CPU air cooler sports dual fan construction and two huge vertical cooling towers.

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The Z87H3-A2X Extreme was designed so that even such a larger cooler can be used without issues. As you can see, the cooler has plenty of space to work with and does not interfere with use of any of the surrounding slots, including the primary PCI-Express x16 slot. You will need to install your memory beforehand though.

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From the side view, none of the VRM heat sinks interfere with cooler seating, but the front fan does sit right on the memory modules. If you do choose to use all four DIMM slots, you might be better off using memory with lower profile heat spreaders.

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The Noctua's large footprint CPU mounting cage makes it the ideal test for CPU socket area spacing. As you can see, there is no contact between the cooler mounting mechanism and the surrounding components or VRM sinks, again supporting the well-designed nature of the CPU socket area. Even with all four DIMM slots in use, you should have no problems with this cooler mounting bracket in any orientation.

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The under board cooling support bracket is not impeded by any circuitry surrounding the CPU socket, minimizing the risk of component crushing from the hold down force of the top-side CPU bracket and cooler.

Included Accessories

ECS includes only the bare minimum needed to get the board functional.

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ECS includes a visual quick setup guide as well as a detailed user manual with the board. While the user manual is lacking in details in several areas (most notably concerning the setup and bandwidth distribution between the PCI-Express slots), it should be sufficient to get the board up and running. ECS does include a detailed table of POST codes at the back of the manual in the trouble shooting section, which is a nice touch. However, it would have been better to include it closer to the description of the LED display it is associated with.

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The included rear panel shield is flat black with white lettering and symbols for easy identification of the tied ports.

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Included with the board are a total of seven locking 6Gb/s rated SATA cables for use with the integrated ports. All the cables include straight connectors, with none of the nice-to-have 90 degree connectors included.

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For multi-GPU support, ECS included a single two-way NVIDIA SLI cable.

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For use with the integrated Wi-Fi port in the rear panel, ECS includes a single antennae assembly with full 180 degree range. The antennae does not have integrated magnets, so it must be placed on a flat surface to minimize movement.

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ECS also includes port plugs to keep dust out of the unused USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports in the rear panel.

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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