ECS KA3 MVP Extreme

Review

posted 9/18/2006 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
One Page Platforms: PC
In previous Extreme boards, there was a big silver sticker that took up a good amount of real estate. That's long gone now and I'm glad ECS decided to do away with it. It wasn't anything useful and it took up area that would've been used for better things. The Extreme brand is still here though as you can see from the design of the southbridge heatsink. The aluminum heatsink sits low enough so there's enough clearance for video cards.

Something I do like about the board is that the internal USB and Firewire pin-outs are on the edge of the motherboard as well. They are also grouped together so they are easy to find. One of the things that annoyed me about some motherboards is that the pin-outs were sometimes spread out across the board. ECS made a smart decision to put them all near each other and away from the middle of the board.

That florescent green cooling fan near the capacitors by the CPU is on this board as well. Well it wouldn't be an Extreme board with out it. The fan helps draw hot air through the capacitors to prevent overheating. It's a simple method but can annoy those that want to silence their computers. The fan doesn't generate that loud of a noise though so most people won't mind it running. I can't see the fan moving that much air as it's rather small but every little bit helps. Because the fan takes up the space where the parallel port normally is, ECS has included a parallel port bracket for those still using the connection for their older printers.

Realtek ALC883 gives you 8 channel audio if you decide to use the on-board feature. There's the usual six 1/8" connectors but the board also features two digital connections with one being SPDIF and the other being coaxial. The SPDIF connection also has a nice little cover that protects it from dust and folds in when you plug a cable in. It's certainly a lot better than the products that have those little plastic plugs that can easily be lost.

A staple of the Extreme series is the dual LAN connectors. Again, ECS has opted to only include one Gigabit connector with the other one being a 10/100 type. Whether it's to save some costs or some other issue, I would've liked to have had two Gigabit connections here but I'll take one over none.

The rest of the rear connectors encompass the traditional connections such as PS/2 peripherals, serial connectors, and a parallel connector. Nothing new or fancy in this area but you get all the connections you should need here. ECS has also included a bracket for external USB and firewire connections. They were also nice enough to have a front mounting bracket as well that you can use in place of a 3/5" drive bay in case you want the connections on the front. Finally, an external SATA connector bracket is there for connection of SATA devices via an external case.

The BIOS featured in the KA3 MVP Extreme offers some improvements over the KA1 MVP Extreme. For starters, there's now greater fan control in the BIOS. If you want to tweak all the fans you'll be able to access them in the menu. For overclockers, most of the options are here except there are a few missing settings for memory such as CAS latency. This isn't nothing that a BIOS update won't change and in the past, ECS has been good at providing BIOS updates to me but it takes a bit of time to get to the general public.

ECS has always been good about giving you plenty of cables and software and this setup is no exception. You can see in the few pics below the amount of cable that come with the board. You should be pretty set with what's provided to you here. The software included also encompasses a wide range of utilities and applications. The included Showshifter is a nice little DVR program in the likes of SageTV and MythTV. They're recently coming back from being discontinued so you should get some continued support for the program.
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