ECS 945G-M3 Motherboard Review :: ECS 945G-M3 Layout

05-07-2006 · Category: Motherboards

By Tulatin

Thanks to the micro size of this royal purple dynamo, there isn't a whole lot to cover in terms of space. When it comes to PCB utilization however, you'll see just how tightly the features on this motherboard have been packed in by ECS.


ECS 945G-M3 Motherboard Review Motherboard overview

Motherboard overview


Tucked into a grotto between I/O and CPU, this motherboard's 4 phase power is laid out. Coming in long strips of wee mofsets, this uncooled circuitry beckons to us to toss on some small heatsinks, which might not be a bad idea, especially if you plan to use processors such as the 3.73EE - ones which have been known to bake boards in the past. Disappointingly, this silicon landscape is littered with vacancies - the places where much appreciated capacitors had picked up and moved on, or so it seemed. Though this is a value board, one can't help but feel slightly cheated when looking at a snapshot of the board on the site, absolutely rife with necessary power scrubbing goodness. Moving to the right of this circuitry we find ourselves at a decently situated CPU socket. Though a large Northbridge sink looms to the south, aided by the memory on an eastern flank, we found no problems with tucking all manner of heatsink - from wee to tall into this space. As with most good retail boards, this one came with a plastic socket cap to keep the LGA 775 socket from damage during transit. Such a cap should remain in place until there is a CPU ready and willing to be installed - after all, bent pins are even less fun to deal with inside a socket than they are on a CPU.


ECS 945G-M3 Motherboard Review PWM

PWM

ECS 945G-M3 Motherboard Review CPU

CPU


A very brief trek west reveals space for four DIMMs, but only two purple slots, laid out at the only height permitting - that being one that will necessitate the removal of any PCI-Express videocard before the memory can be swapped out. Squished between these modules and the edge of the motherboard are a 24 Pin ATX connector, flanked by a lone IDE connector and floppy connector. Directly above this small clump of civilization is an IrDA header, which makes sense if your case has a front mounted receiver. Granted, there's been so few of them in the world before that these ports seem to be more myth than purpose. Immediately below the first I/O hub of the motherboard is a small cluster containing the BIOS, CMOS battery, and a system speaker. Users with long video cards that employ beefy PWM sinks, or large heatsinks (1900XTX anyone?) should be quite wary - too much force in pushing down that stubborn videocard could easily snap your fledgling battery off. Poor little bugger. To the left of these is an ICH7R Southbridge, covered with an annoyingly small heatsink (come on, at least cover the whole chip!), one which gets pretty toasty underneath a load. Crammed to the bottom right of the motherboard, four SATA-II 300 headers vie for space with the front panel headers, along with myriad capacitors, and unsung headers. All across the base of the motherboard, we find assorted headers, or at least the solder pads for them - on the plus side, it will be easy to get this board wired up.


ECS 945G-M3 Motherboard Review DIMMS

DIMMS

ECS 945G-M3 Motherboard Review IO Corner

IO Corner


Above the southern section of pads and pins, we have a pair of PCI Slots, and a pair of PCI-E slots (in x1/x16 trim). For one, we applaud ECS for placing the x1 slot where they did, that way, we can still use two full PCI cards without worry of starving a videocard. Slightly above this is a beefy Northbridge sink, akin to the one featured on the recently reviewed KA1-MVP, which shares its space with the 4 Pin power header to its left. Merely around the corner from the core of communication is the conclusion to our tour - the I/O panel. Featuring (from right to left) 8 Channel Azalia Audio, Quad USB (topped by Ethernet and Firewire), Parallel, Serial, and VGA ports and finally the bog standard requisite PS/2 Ports, the I/O area provides a good amount of connectivity, especially for those who don't want to have to tear their system apart. With our tour for today completed, let's see what was nestled into the box along with this value minded motherboard.


ECS 945G-M3 Motherboard Review PCI-E and PCI

PCI-E and PCI

ECS 945G-M3 Motherboard Review Audible Corner

Audible Corner

ECS 945G-M3 Motherboard Review IO Ports

IO Ports