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Tuesday, 03 March 2009 13:26

Elitegroup AM3 DDR3 benched - 3 Layout

Written by Eliot Kucharik

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Review: AM3 does not benefit from DDR3


Layout:

 

The board appears rather unspectacular, despite the fact that it comes from ECS' "high-end" line called Black Series. We would have imagined a black PCB, but all we got is a brown one. This board does not even feature a heatpiped cooling solution, but due to the fact the AMD chipsets are not getting too hot, the massive aluminium heatsinks suffice.


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The VRM is an analog 4-phase design driven by an ISL6323. This is a controller made for AMD split-plane CPUs, so you won't find this on any Intel board. ECS claims it can handle CPUs up to 160W, so each phase is able to deliver 30A which is quite impressive. The CPU-power connector is placed behind the massive heatsink which is not an elegant solution .

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The memory slots are well placed. They are far away from the PCIe x16 slot, so you can change the memory with the graphics cards installed. The ATX power connector is placed beneath, but with plenty of  space, so the memory modules won't interfere.

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The slots are configured in MSI style. Using two triple-slot Radeon cards in Crossfire-configuration will steal all your slots. Also the HDD power-connector beside the northbridge is not an elegant solution, it should have been placed near the ATX connector  A PCIe x1 slot beside the northbridge would have given you a chance to install a sound- or TV-card.

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For some reason all vendors go for the cheapest PCIe Gb LAN solution on the market, which is the Realtek RTL8111C. It is not known for very good performance, especially the I/O load is quite weak. A Marvell, Broadcom or Intel chip would have been a better choice, but of course opting for a better chip would also have increased costs. Audio is also provided by a Realtek chip: the ALC888S. The ITE chip is a super I/O controller, for all legacy devices, such as floppy, LPT and COM ports but you won't find any connectors for that, so the controller just mangages fans and sensors. The JMicro JMB361 provides one eSATA port, we feel a second port would have been a good idea.

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The SATA connectors are on the edge of the board and angled 90°. This is the best solution available because the connectors won't interfere with any cards.

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ECS also features the small power-on and reset buttons which are now quite common. Beside them you find the PATA connector. We only miss a port80 diagnostic LED which would help if the board for some reason can't boot up properly.


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Last modified on Tuesday, 28 April 2009 19:33
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