ECS KA3MVP Extreme AM2 Motherboard Reiew


For Crossfire Xpress needs

Elite Computer Systems, or ECS, has a huge presence in the motherboard market place. They have been around for 20 years now, have had most of their business in the OEM sector, but in the past few years have begun making a name for themselves in the DIY community.

Occasionally, their name has been a bit blemished though, with a somewhat undeserved reputation for making overly cheap products. In actuality, most of their products are still geared towards large OEM companies for end users that never even see the ECS brand; therefore their products require a very high amount of quality control and reliability — big companies wouldn’t put their faith in ECS if they made “cheap”, shabby products.

For this reason, though, ECS has not had quite the experience with making a product directly for end users like you and me, so in the past, some of their motherboards have not been too “end-user-friendly”. ECS is making a great effort to change this though. They want to be known, and they want to be known for making a great, fun, quality product. Let’s see how they managed with the CrossFire Xpress 3200.

The Xpress3200 has 44 PCI-E lanes, allowing 16 lanes for each video card (instead of 8). One thing ATI is often pointing out is the fact that ATI has chosen to let both their 16x PCI-E slots connect to the RD580. Nvidia, on the other hand, connects each of their 16X PCI-E slots to the MCP and the SPP. The fact that the data then has to travel between the MCP and SPP to the CPU adds a bit of overhead compared to ATI’s solution. This is something you only would notice with slower cards, but we’ve never really seen any difference between them.

With the Xpress 3200 for AM2 and even more importantly the new SB600 Southbridge, ATI has finally added some missing features to the chipset-pair.

  • Support for up to 10 USB 2.0 ports (up from 8 ports)
  • SATA 2 support Including support for NCQ. (Previous only SATA1 support)
  • Support for 4-drive RAID 10 in addition to RAID 0 and RAID 1.
  • HD-Audio

ATI is now owned by AMD, and the CrossFire Xpress 3200 is based on what was once the chipset known as RD580, but is now the AMD 580X — same thing, new marketing spin. CrossFire Xpress 3200 is AMD/ATI’s highest performance motherboard solution to date, with specifications on-par with pretty much anything Nvidia or Intel has to offer. In fact, there is a CrossFire Xpress 3200 solution for both AMD processors and Intel processors. Here are the specifications from ECS:

CPU Socket AM2 with AMD Athlon 64 FX/ Athlon 64/ Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core/ Sempron processor
Support for 64-bit extended operating systems
Support transfer rate of 2000/1600/1200/800/400 mega-transfers per second.
Highly overclockable and robust Hypertransport interface
Chipset AMD 580X Crossfire™
North Bridge: AMD 580X Crossfire
South Bridge: AMD® SB600
Memory Support Dual-channel DDR2 memory architecture
4 x 240-pin DDR2 DIMM socket support up to 32GB
Support DDR2 800/667/533/400 DDR2 SDRAM
Expansion Slots 2 x PCI Express x16 slots
1 x PCI Express x1 slot
2 x PCI slots
Storage Supported by SB600
2 x Ultra DMA133/100/66/33 device
4 x Serial ATA2 devices
RAID0, RAID1, RAID10 configuration
Supported by JMB363
2 x Ultra DMA133/100/66 devices
2 x Serial ATA2 devices
RAID0, RAID1& RAID 0+1 configuration
Support NCQ&eSATA & Hot plug&Port Multiplier
Audio Realtek ALC883 8-channel audio CODEC
IEEE 1394a VIA® VT6308P support 2 x IEEE1394a ports
Dual LAN Agere E1310I Gigabit LAN controller
Realtek 8100C 10/100 Mbps Fast Ethernet controller
Rear Panel I/O 1 x PS/2 keyboard & PS/2 mouse connectors
4 x USB ports
2 x RJ45 LAN connectors
1 x Serial port (COM1)
1 x Audio port (Line-in,4x Line-out, Mic_in)
2 x Digital SPDIF (Optical & Coaxial) out
Internal I/O Connectors 1 x 24-pin ATX Power Supply connector
1 x 4-pin ATX 12V connector
1 x Auxiliary 4-pin +12V connector
2 x IDE connectors
1 x FDD connector
6 x Serial ATA connectors
1 x Speaker header
1 x IrDA for SIR header
2 x 1394a headers
3 x USB 2.0 headers support additional 6 USB ports
1 x Front panel switch/LED header
1 x Front panel audio header
CD in header
1 x 26-pin LPT header
CPU / Chassis FAN headers
1x CPUFAN/1x SYSFAN/3x CASFAN connectors
System BIOS Award BIOS with 4Mb Flash ROM
Supports Plug and Play 1.0A, APM 1.2, Multi Boot, DMI
Supports ACPI revision 1.0 specification
Form Factor ATX Size 305mm*244mm