ECS KA1-MVP Extreme Motherboard Review :: The ECS KA1-MVP

03-22-2006 · Category: Motherboards

By Tulatin
ECS KA1 MVP (1.0) Spec Sheet
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Motherboard Photo
Part NumberKA1 MVP (1.0)
ManufacturerECS
Price CheckFind Best Price
DownloadsBIOS
Drivers
Manuals
ChipsetATI RD480 AMD SB450
North BridgeATI RD480 AMD
SocketSocket 939
Processor TypesAthlon 64X2, Athlon 64FX, Athlon 64, Sempron
Number of CPUs1
Front Side Bus1GHz HyperTransport Bus Link
Memory TypeDDR
Memory ChannelsDual
Maximum Memory4GB
External GraphicsPCI Express x16
IGP None
South BridgeATI SB450
Audio8-channel
IDE133/100/66/33
SCSINone
SATA3.0 GB/s
RAID0, 1
LAN10/100/1000
FirewireIEEE 1394a
USBUSB 2.0
Expansion Slots
BIOSAWARD
Form FactorATX
Motherboard Photo

We've a slight gripe with the packaging found around this motherboard - rather than laying the motherboard flat atop the accessory box as was done before, a rather flimsy box has been placed atop it, causing us to dig the board out and drop it on top of said box, frustrating to say the least. Once we'd actually wrestled the motherboard from her packaging, there was no doubt to be had about its origins. Across the striking ECS Metallic Purple PCB, all manner of connector and plug could be seen laid out rather well, colored in true ECS fashion. If that wasn't enough indication, the massive (in terms of motherboard size) Elite group Extreme Plate sealed the deal about just who makes this thing.


ECS KA1-MVP Extreme Motherboard Review
ECS KA1-MVP Extreme Motherboard Review

That being said, it's time to start our usual tour de force, starting from the upper left corner of the motherboard. Found directly above the fan shroud, as with the KN1 Series, we can find the Auxiliary Power Connector.. It was with great trepidation that we saw a lack of connector here. Gazing down and across the power regulation circuitry, the home for this poor little connector was indeed quickly found, tucked in next to the Exhaust fan header, which is just behind the first bank of USB and Ethernet ports. Now, correct me if I'm wrong here, but isn't it a better idea to tuck it in at the top of the board, where much of the cable can be easily hidden by proper routing? Granted, this seems to have no difference in the function of the motherboard, rather, it only provides an issue in terms of appearance.


ECS KA1-MVP Extreme Motherboard Review
ECS KA1-MVP Extreme Motherboard Review

Along the rather well built power circuitry and past the glowing shroud, we come to the CPU socket, well placed and with plenty of clearance around it, this area should present no difficulties when installing monster coolers, such as the Big Typhoon. Users of Heatsinks such as the Zalman 7700Cu or Thermaltake's Blue Orb II might find a bit of an issue though, with the edges of the radial fins rubbing up against the sizeable passive sink which is held to the Northbridge via plastic clips and springs. Since we're on the topic, it might be helpful to know that end users would be able to easily replace this cooler if so inclined, something which doesn't seem so far fetched considering the bit of power circuitry hiding out right next to the Northbridge itself.


ECS KA1-MVP Extreme Motherboard Review
ECS KA1-MVP Extreme Motherboard Review
ECS KA1-MVP Extreme Motherboard Review

Beyond the high rising capacitors, we come to a quadrant of DIMM slots; two are lilac and two are lemon colored, to denote the different channels. We're not quite sure about the markings on the board indicating 999DIMM, or about just how close these blasted slots are. We don't doubt that with the millimeter or so between slots that some memory with thicker heat spreaders (Corsair's Pro Series and Mushkin's Redline modules come to mind) will run into issues, both thermally and physically here. Tucked in just behind the tightly packed DIMM slots, there is a wee LED that informs you when power is flowing to the motherboard, a tall jumper to throw to enable/disable bios write protection, and a your typical IDE/Floppy and 24 Pin headers (in Lime Green, White, Black and White, respectively). Also found in this are is a tiny IR header, which should be good for those of us who actually have IR receivers in the case, whoever we are.


ECS KA1-MVP Extreme Motherboard Review
ECS KA1-MVP Extreme Motherboard Review

Moving down the board slightly, we met with disappointment en masse. On the KN1-SLI Extreme, this location would have housed a trio of fan headers, with one taken to chill the Northbridge. The other two had such perfect situation, that it almost seemed ECS was encouraging us to fit up coolers such as Zalman's VF700 and plug them in here. Sadly, such a thing shall never happen on this motherboard, as it's got but a lone fan header here. Flanking this lonely connector are a set of four very orange SATA headers, as well as a Southbridge, passively cooled with a tiny heatsink. Stowed just below this sad sink is a pair of blood red SATA II Ports, fed by a Silicon Image SIL3132 chip. Drifting along past these ports, we come to a Bios soldered to the motherboard. While you'd normally be hosed if such a bios had become fried, the included top hat flash bios helps alleviate that issue, by giving you a means to save yourself via a hot flash.


ECS KA1-MVP Extreme Motherboard Review
ECS KA1-MVP Extreme Motherboard Review
ECS KA1-MVP Extreme Motherboard Review
ECS KA1-MVP Extreme Motherboard Review

Beyond this hub of storage is another fan header, standing just above a tall jumper which will flush the CMOS for you, a parallel port header, and your typical I/O headers. Gliding along the bottom of the motherboard, we find all of the board's included USB and Firewire headers, along with the front panel audio one, placed typically well for ECS. Also tucked in down here is a Molex header which is intended to help the motherboard provide power to the hungry crossfire cards. Now, while I understand this placement is intended to help reduce wire clutter, it's more than a little frustrating when I usually never, ever have anything running in down here that needs a Molex.


ECS KA1-MVP Extreme Motherboard Review
ECS KA1-MVP Extreme Motherboard Review
ECS KA1-MVP Extreme Motherboard Review
ECS KA1-MVP Extreme Motherboard Review

Around the final bend lays a stretch of near farmland in terms of components, flanked by some of the best laid out slots we've seen in a while. Normally, we rabidly object to willfully obscuring or sacrificing any slots, but for the way ECS did things here, we can't complain. Below each x16 PCI-Express slot, there is a near useless x1 PCI-Express Slot, as opposed to the bulk of motherboards which slap the still viable PCI slots in below here. While we'd normally not hesitate to see an old format die, the complete and utter lack of PCI-E perpetuating beyond graphics cards is appalling, and leaving us still wondering what these annoying little slots have been doing on our motherboards since Intel's 925 days. The only issue we foresee here is that dual slot coolers which feed on air below the cards will be starved for airflow as there is but a lone slot between cards. Owners of many ATI cards shouldn't have much issue however; after all, the cards do suck air through the power circuitry and expel it from your case.


ECS KA1-MVP Extreme Motherboard Review
ECS KA1-MVP Extreme Motherboard Review
ECS KA1-MVP Extreme Motherboard Review
ECS KA1-MVP Extreme Motherboard Review

Beyond these slots of Blue, Orange, White and Yellow, there is but only the I/O Shield area to examine, which is comprised of the following from left to right - PS/2, Serial, shroud, 2x USB/Ethernet stacks and finally 8 channel audio. ECS seems to have held the strange I/O shield design though, as the OTES-like fan still expels air through the open space where the parallel port would have been. Perhaps the only issue we've had with that little fan wasn't from its position, but from the wee bit of a whine it gave off under full load. At least we know it was working though. Granted, it would have been nice to see an easily replaceable heatsink on these, as shown on Sapphire's PURE motherboards.