ECS KN3-SLI2 Extreme AM2 Motherboard Review :: ECS KN3-SLI2 Extreme Features

11-26-2006 · Category: Motherboards

By Benjamin Sun
ECS KN3-SLI2 Extreme Spec Sheet
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Motherboard Photo
Part NumberKN3-SLI2 Extreme
ManufacturerECS
Price CheckFind Best Price
DownloadsBIOS
Drivers
Manuals
ChipsetNvidia nForce 590 SLI
North BridgeNvidia nForce 590 SLI
SocketSocket AM2 (940)
Processor TypesAthlon 64, Athlon 64 FX, Athlon 64 X2 dual-core
Number of CPUs1
Front Side Bus1GHz HyperTransport Bus Link
Memory TypeDDR2
Memory ChannelsDual
Maximum Memory32GB
External GraphicsPCI Express x16
IGP None
South BridgeNvidia nForce 590 MCP
Audio8-channel
IDE133/100/66/33
SCSINone
SATA3.0 GB/s
RAID0, 1, 0+1, 5
LAN10/100/1000 x2
FirewireIEEE 1394a
USBUSB 2.0
Expansion Slots
BIOSAWARD
Form FactorATX
Motherboard Photo

The KN3-SLI2 is based upon NVIDIA's nForce 590 SLI chipset, and therefore supports the latest AMD Athlon 64, FX series, X2 and Duron CPUs on the AMD Socket AM2 platform. I tested the 5000+, the FX-62 and a 4600+ EE CPU in the system. All booted without issue. One thing about AMD CPUs is that they tend to stay compatible for a long time, as the latest Socket 939 CPU works on the earliest Socket 939 motherboard.


ECS KN3-SLI2 Extreme AM2 Motherboard Review CPU Socket

CPU Socket

ECS KN3-SLI2 Extreme AM2 Motherboard Review 999 DIMM slots

999 DIMM slots

ECS KN3-SLI2 Extreme AM2 Motherboard Review Back CPU Bracket

Back CPU Bracket


ECS provided the board with four 240-pin DIMM (Dual In-line Memory Modules) slots. The board supports DDR2 400/533/667/800 MHz natively. ECS says that their board supports up to 32GB of memory. No current 8GB memory modules are available, but there are 4 GB modules available. Note, that the maximum memory that Windows XP or any 32-bit Operating System can address is 4GB total, so more than 4GB requires another OS like Windows Vista or Linux.


ECS KN3-SLI2 Extreme AM2 Motherboard Review PCI Express x16 slot

PCI Express x16 slot

ECS KN3-SLI2 Extreme AM2 Motherboard Review Expansion slots

Expansion slots

ECS KN3-SLI2 Extreme AM2 Motherboard Review PCI Express x1 slots

PCI Express x1 slots


SLI motherboards have one defining characteristic, two full length PCI Express x16 slots for the video cards. ECS's KN3-SLI2 slot arrangement is PCI Express x16 Slot, PCI Express x1 slot, PCI Express x1 slot, PCI Express x16 slots, PCI, PCI. To install SLI video cards, insert one into each PCI Express x16 slot and attach the SLI bridge connector between them on the Golden Finger connection. I tried two of the new 8800GTX cards, the ASUS 8800GTX and the XFX 8800GTX on the board. The board arrangement worked well, as the card separation allows the plenty of airflow between them. ECS has listed a group of video cards on their site that are supported on their SLI motherboards. The KN3-SLI2 is not on the list as of yet, but the other SLI motherboards on the list have the 7800GTX as the last card tested in SLI mode with a disclaimer that other cards might cause damage.


ECS KN3-SLI2 Extreme AM2 Motherboard Review 5 SATA ports

5 SATA ports

ECS KN3-SLI2 Extreme AM2 Motherboard Review 2 SATA ports

2 SATA ports


ECS has outfitted the KN3-SLI2 with an interesting mix of storage options. There are 7 SATA ports on the board, with 5 controlled by the MCP55XE southbridge, and two further SATA ports controlled by a JMB363 controller. The external SATA port is also controlled by the NVIDIA MCP55XE. MCP55XE supports RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5, JBOD and NCQ. JMB363 supports RAID 0, 1 and RAID 0+1 configurations.


ECS KN3-SLI2 Extreme AM2 Motherboard Review CD-IN

CD-IN

ECS KN3-SLI2 Extreme AM2 Motherboard Review Realtek ALC883 CODEC

Realtek ALC883 CODEC



Audio drivers


ECS KN3-SLI2 Extreme AM2 Motherboard Review
ECS KN3-SLI2 Extreme AM2 Motherboard Review
ECS KN3-SLI2 Extreme AM2 Motherboard Review
ECS KN3-SLI2 Extreme AM2 Motherboard Review
ECS KN3-SLI2 Extreme AM2 Motherboard Review

Onboard sound has improved to the point that most boards have more than adequate sound with support for 7.1 Surround Sound, SPDIF, multiple audio streams and other features. The KN3-SLI2 board has a Realtek ALC883 CODEC that fully supports the High Definition Audio standard. I prefer ADI's SoundMAX CODEC due to support of Sonic Focus, but the Realtek CODEC is adequate for onboard sound.


ECS KN3-SLI2 Extreme AM2 Motherboard Review Rear IO

Rear IO

ECS KN3-SLI2 Extreme AM2 Motherboard Review Dual Giga LAN

Dual Giga LAN

ECS KN3-SLI2 Extreme AM2 Motherboard Review Marvell LAN chip

Marvell LAN chip

ECS KN3-SLI2 Extreme AM2 Motherboard Review Speaker

Speaker


The rear IO on any board is always interesting and important as to expandability without a bracket. The ECS board comes with an external SATA port on the rear IO, a PS/2 mouse, a PS/2 keyboard port, 4 USB 2.0 ports, a COM1 port, 2 RJ-45 jacks for the onboard Gigabit Ethernet controlled by two Marvell 88E1116 PHYs, and a fan to cool the MOSFETs and the CPU area.