ECS GANK MACHINE Z87H3-A2X EXTREME (Intel LGA 1150) Review 32

ECS GANK MACHINE Z87H3-A2X EXTREME (Intel LGA 1150) Review

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Introduction



ECS has been around for a long time, but most of that time has been spent as an OEM and entry-level brand, rather than selling high-end, enthusiast-oriented products. Their first ventures into the enthusiast market we are all a part of were stable, reliable, and priced pretty decently, while they built many products for bigger white-box companies like IBM, etc., we all love to hate. One commonality in ECS's early products was that overclocking features were sorely missed, which had mainstream enthusiasts focus on other brands instead. That changed a few years ago with ECS directly developing gaming-focused OC products and introducing the "BLACK" series of boards with a centralized design ideal that evolved over several generations, many of which have appeared on these pages in the past.

ECS updated their design vision with the launch of Intel's latest by going for the jugular of your average gamer in a way that actually left me speechless. The name says it all: Let me introduce you to the ECS GANK MACHINE.



Specifications

Specifications
CPU SUPPORT:4th Gen Intel Core i7/i5/i3/Pentium/Celeron processor family for the LGA 1150 Socket
POWER DESIGN:CPU Power: 12 Phases
Memory Power: 2 Phases
CHIPSET:Intel Z87 Express
INTEGRATED GRAPHICS:Dependant on installed CPU
MEMORY:4 x DIMM, Max. 32 GB, DDR3 1333 to DDR3 3000(OC)
BIOS:Dual AMI UEFI BIOS with 2x 64 Mb Flash ROM
SLOTS:3 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 slots (x16 or dual x8 or x8/x4/x4)
1 x PCIe 2.0 x1 slot
HDD CONNECTVIITY:7 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s (5 @ Intel Z87, 2 @ ASMedia ASM1061)
NETWORKING:2 x Realtek 8111G Gigabit LAN
PORTS:1 x Audio port (Line-in,4x Line-out, SPDIF out)
2 x RJ-45 port with teaming function
1 x HDMI port(s)
1 x Display port
1 x Wireless LAN Dongle
1 x Bluetooth Dongle
2 x eSATA 6Gb/s port(s)
4 x USB3.0 port(s)
4 x USB2.0 port(s)
1 x Clear_CMOS Button
AUDIO:Realtek ALC1150 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
FAN HEADERS:2 x 4-pin PWM, 1 x 3-pin
FORM FACTOR:ATX Form Factor (305 mm x 244 mm)
EXCLUSIVE FEATURES:
  • QOOLTECH V
  • Durathon Technology
  • Extreme Power Module
  • DUAL COOL MOS
  • All Solid Capacitors
  • MIB X
  • Easy Button
  • Anti-Static Design
  • EZ BIOS
  • eBLU
  • eOC
  • eDLU
  • EZ Charger

Intel Z87 Chipset


New and fresh on the scene for June of 2013 is Intel's latest Socket 1150 platform, with Intel's Z87 chipset taking the top-tier spot in chipset functionality and for performance options on this platform.


Most of the basic functionality offered by Intel's new Z87 chipset is quite similar to what was offered with Intel's Z77 Express, but there are more USB 3.0 ports, and they are faster too. All of the SATA ports provided also offer SATA 6 Gb/s functionality; Intel's Z77 Express only had two ports at those speeds. There are new power-saving features to keep power consumption at a bare minimum, and Z87 also includes all the features of the Intel Z77 Express. The chipset offers PCIe speeds of up to 5 GT/s for fast access to peripheral devices and networking with up to eight PCI Express 2.0 x1 ports that can be configured to act as x2-, x4-, or x8 ports. Intel's functionality diagram for the Z87 chipset is shown above.


The new 4th Gen Intel Core CPUs are 64-bit, multi-core chips built on a 22nm process; pairing with the Intel Z87 chipset enables the performance-tuning features of "K"-SKU CPUs, allowing independent changes to core-, graphics-, "ring"-, and memory frequencies. This allows you to clock up one part of the chip while running any other part of the chip at stock speeds, which is extremely useful for enthusiasts that like to overclock as each part can be clocked and tested independently for the absolute most out of your chip if the time is taken to test everything fully. Users who prefer the simpler approach of past platforms can use it instead, ensuring everyone's needs are met. For PCIe connectivity, Intel Z87-based platforms allow the processor's PCI Express 3.0 port to be configured into three different configurations: 1x16, 2x8, or 1x8 and 2x4. The third x8 and 2x4 configuration is primarily meant for use with Intel Thunderbolt Technology, but can be used to support other devices as well.

Other TPU reviews cover the CPUs themselves in more detail. We will now also separate those reviews. One will cover iGPU performance and the other will cover CPU performance.

Packaging


ECS's product packaging for high-end products has been a bit over the top for a while now, and the GANK MACHINE is no exception. Pictures don't fully capture how shiny and reflective the box really is. There is a flap on the front—flip it open and you will be greeted by a shiny list of features on the left and a picture detailing the board's most crucial parts on the right.


Inside the primary box is another box inside of which are two different boxes—one contains the board and the other its included accessories. I would almost rather not see so much packaging, to be honest, but it does increase the board's high-end feel as you unpack everything.

Contents


There is not much here, but enough to be happy with what I found—no unnecessary extras. A full list is below:
  • 1 x User's Manual
  • 1 x Quick Installation Guide
  • 1 x I/O shield
  • 7 x SATA 6Gb/s cables
  • 1 x Wi-Fi antenna
  • 1 x SLI bridge
  • 1 x I/O dust-cover kit
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Jun 29th, 2022 09:50 EDT change timezone

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