ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme GANK Machine Motherboard Review
Features and Motherboard Layout
Courtesy of ECS
- 2-WAY SLI,3-WAY CFX multi-graphics solution
- 12 Phase Power Design
- Up to 200W Thermal Design Power support
- Applied 100% Solid capacitor design to maximize component reliability
ECS Durathon Technology ensure the stability, reliability and performance of system.
(Triple Density PCB; Extreme Temp Resistance; 1.5K Marathon Test; Superior Solid CAPs)
- ESD Protection prevent computers from electrostatic discharge damage to enhance its durability and lifespan
- 15µ Gold Contact (3 times extra protection) ensures motherboards longest lifespan, better reliability and excellent contact
- Supports ECS EZ BIOS for tweaking BIOS in graphical user interface within a multi language environment
- ECS MIB X - A friendly interface for overclocking, especially for gamer
- Supports Bluetooth allows electronic devices to communicate wirelessly
- Supports Wireless LAN allows electronic devices to communicate wirelessly
- Dual Gigabit LAN for a flexible network solution
- Intel ® VRD 12.5 Ready
- Supports DirectX® 11.1 to enhance graphical performance
- ECS Intelligent EZ Utility : eBLU, eDLU, eOC, eSF
The Z87H3-A2X Extreme board sports a sleek black and red color scheme with chrome accents, making for an appealing board unveiling. ECS' design and layout of the board was well thought out with no tight areas on the board and more than adequate space to work. The configurable 3-digit diagnostic display as well as the fan included on the upper VRM heat sink are both nice additions as well.
While the back of the board does have some small components just under the CPU VRM chips, the area directly under the CPU is devoid of any components. This will minimize the risk of crushing any sensitive circuitry with the CPU cooler back plate in place.
ECS included the following ports into the Z87H3-A2X Extreme's rear panel: four USB 2.0 ports, four USB 3.0 ports, two ASMedia-controlled eSATA 6Gb/s ports, dual Realtek GigE NIC ports, a Bluetooth transmitter, an 802.11n wireless adapter port, HDMI and DisplayPort video ports, a CMOS reset button, an optical audio output port, and 5 analog audio ports.
The Z87H3-A2X Extreme was designed with a total of three PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots, a PCI-Express x1 slot, and a PCI slot (yes, that's right, they included a PCI slot). The board supports full x16 bandwidth with a single card seated,and x8 bandwidth across two of the PCI-Express x16 slots. The primary and secondary PCI-Express x16 slots are oriented to accommodate dual slot sized video cards without interfering with other on-board slots. This leave the PCI-Express x1 slot usable unless a triple slot video card is used in the primary PCI-Express x16 slot.
In the upper left quadrant of the board are the front panel audio header, the S/PDIF output header, the serial port header, and a system fan header.
To the lower left of the PCI slot are the USB 2.0 headers and the BIOS Backup button. The CMOS battery is located to the lower right of the PCI slot. The BIOS Backup button is used to overwrite the BIOS ROM on the primary BIOS chip with that of the secondary BIOS chip. This can be used in cases where the primary BIOS ROM becomes corrupted. Simply quickly depress the BIOS reset button in the rear panel with the board powered off and then press the BIOS Backup button for at least 4 seconds. Once the status LEDs surrounding the button begin to glow, the BIOS ROM restore has started. Note that the grey colored USB 2.0 header (F_USB1) supports the EZ Charger technology. This provides approximately three times the normal power output to devices with the system powered off, allowing for fast charging of devices supporting this operating mode.
The Intel controlled USB 3.0 header, the front panel header, on-board power, reset, BIOS reset, Boot to BIOS, 80P, and Quick-OC buttons, 3-digit diagnostic LED display, and an mSATA/mPCIe port are located in the bottom left corner of the board. The Boot to BIOS button is located to the right of the power button and forces the board to boot to the UEFI BIOS page on next system restart. The Quick-OC button is located to the right of the reset button with the 80P button just below it. The 80P button configures the information displayed on the 3-digit diagnostic display after system boot. The LED block to the right of the 3-digit display shows which display mode is currently active. The button toggles the display between BIOS post code, CPU temperature, CPU voltage, CPU power, and CPU VRM temperature.
The Intel Z87 Express chipset is cooled by a finned, aluminum heat sink just below the PCI-Express x16 slots. The heat sink is branded with the L337 Gaming logo in black and red colors. It also acts as a terminating end point for the heat pipe cooling loop.
There are a total of seven SATA 6Gb/s ports integrated into the board located just under the chipset cooler. The six Intel controlled SATA ports are the black colored, horizontally oriented ports with the ASMedia controlled port to the left of the port block.
The integrated memory slots are located in the lower right corner of the board, directly underneath the CPU socket area. If using two memory modules, they should be placed in slots 2 and 4 to enable dual channel memory mode. The board supports up to 32GB of memory running at a maximum speed of 3000MHz.
To the lower left of the DIMM slots are the 24-pin ATX power connector, the chassis intrusion and ME Unlock headers, and the Easy Voltage Measurement block. The ME Unlock header is a debug header used for inner-company debugging and testing. The voltage measurement points give easy access to direct voltage measurement using a voltmeter.
To the upper left of the DIMM slots and just below the right side VRM sink is the CPU fan header.
The space provided around the CPU is enough to accommodate even the larger air and water-based coolers. Along with its 12-phased power system, the Z87H3-A2X Extreme can keep pace no matter how hard you try to push your CPU.
The VRM fan header is located to the upper left of the CPU socket. The fan itself is hidden under the lip of the upper VRM heat sink.
To the upper right of the CPU socket and VRM heat sinks are a system fan header and the 8-pin ATX12V power connector. Notice in this shot how the upper and right side VRM heat sinks are not physically connected via the on board heat pipe. The sink to the right side of the CPU socket is a stand alone unit.