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ECS KN1-SLI Extreme nForce 4-SLI Motherboard Review

ECS KN1-SLI Extreme nForce 4-SLI Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: Onboard data connections consist of IEEE 1394a Firewire which hums away at 800Mbps, a 7.1-channel audio codec, Gigabit and 10/100 NICs, and an additional Serial ATA II/RAID controller.
 82% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: ECS Sep 29 2005   Colin Sun  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > ECS KN1-SLI Extreme

Onboard options and functionality

Remarkably, the KN1-SLI Extreme motherboard utilizes a switchless SLI setup. From the assortment of motherboards we've seen, generally only super high end motherboards support switch-less SLI. If ECS can implement this on the KN1-SLI Extreme, there really is no excuse for other manufacturers not to do the same. During testing this feature functioned flawlessly and beat our best attempts to confuse the motherboard with various videocard combinations.

The extra space between the two PCI Express x16 slots on the KN1-SLI Extreme is also a nice touch. The extra breathing room just makes it easier to install larger heatsinks or waterblocks on videocards.

Right above the first PCI Express x16 slot is a molex power connector set onto the motherboard. This power connector is recommended for when two high powered videocards are run in SLI. It's not absolutely necessary with 7800GTX-class videocards (which is what we tested with), and the system did not experience any problems running in our tests without the extra power.

The ECS KN1-SLI Extreme is not the first motherboard we have tested that supports external Serial ATA devices but it is the first to adhere to the eSATA standard. Previous motherboards allowed for external connectivity of internal SATA devices; whereas the KN1-SLI Extreme supports the official External Serial ATA cable connection standard.

Originally designed as an internal bus, developers quickly ported SATA over for external use since there is so much bandwidth available. eSATA's main benefit over competitors like USB 2.0 or IEEE 1394a is that eSATA is up to six times faster. Cables can be as much as two meters in length, and eSATA is natively supported by all Serial ATA controllers.

eSATA and SATA connectors and cables are not compatible with each other; this is to prevent users from using unshielded internal cables for external use. To prevent ESD damage, the internal contact depth has been increased from 5mm to 6.6mm and the contacts themselves are placed further back. Unfortunately we do not have any eSATA devices around the labs, otherwise we would have tested this feature... Still it is nice to see ECS incorporate a new standard now so that users will be good to go should they adopt eSATA devices in the future.

Rear I/O Exhaust Fan

Round back, the I/O ports consist of a pair of network jacks (one 10/100, the other GbE), the audio jacks, SP/DIF and in place of where the parallel port traditionally goes, a fan exhaust. The bright green plastic air scoop and 40mm fan are intended to quickly remove some of the hot air generated by the socket 939 AMD Athlon64 processor and power MOSFETs from the case, thereby lowering overall internal temperatures.

The concept is good, but we're left wondering why the I/O shield is still just cut for a parallel port? A real vent for this exhaust fan should have been incorporated in to the I/O plate. In any case, the fan is 40mm fan (which is replaceable) is very quiet and does a decent job at expelling hot air from the system.

ECS has come up with a novel way of protecting end users from the experience of a bad BIOS flash. Rather than mounting two BIOS chips on the motherboard itself, a second BIOS is supplied in a specialized double-sided BIOS socket. ECS call this backup solution the "Top-Hat" flash module.

Since the surface mounted BIOS ROM contacts are exposed on the actual motherboard, the backup ECS "Top-Hat" flash module can simply be clipped into place on top of the board mounted BIOS chip when needed.

Should there be a bad BIOS flash, the ECS Top-Hat flash module will take over from the onboard BIOS, and once the board is up and running take off the Top-Hat device and proceed to re-flash your motherboard. The process is very simple and it works quite well, just make sure you keep the Top-Hat module in a safe spot that you will remember!

The brand of capacitors we find on the ECS KN1-SLI Extreme motherboard are OST, G.LUXON and a brand only identified with a capital M as its logo.

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Contents of Article: ECS KN1-SLI Extreme
 Pg 1.  ECS KN1-SLI Extreme nForce 4-SLI Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  — Onboard options and functionality
 Pg 3.  Overclocking the motherboard and BIOS
 Pg 4.  Benchmarks: SYSMark 2004
 Pg 5.  Benchmarks: Winstone 2004, Winbench 99
 Pg 6.  Benchmarks: SiSoft Sandra, Super Pi
 Pg 7.  Benchmarks: PCMark04, PCMark05
 Pg 8.  Benchmarks: 3DMark2001, 3DMark05
 Pg 9.  Benchmarks: Comanche 4, X2: The Threat
 Pg 10.  Benchmarks: UT2003, UT2004
 Pg 11.  Benchmarks: Doom 3 and Conclusion

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