In the computer world good timing is vital. One wrong
misstep can easily leave a company in the dust. ATi was late to the chipset game
and instead of targeting the same performance markets that nVIDIA is now
dominating in, the Canadian company is working to gain a foot hold in the budget
and value-oriented segments. With the explosion of demand for low cost computers
coming from Brazil, Russia and China this is a very strategic move that will pay
out in the long run.
The microATX ECS RS480-M is a pretty well rounded
little motherboard. Aside from its onboard video care of the ATI CrossFire
Xpress 200 chipset, the board includes the necessities like Gigabit networking,
5.1 channel audio controller, SATA, RAID, PCI Express x16 and PCI expansion
ports. In fact it comes with pretty much everything you would need for a
workstation or Home Theatre PC.
The only area where ATi's Radeon Xpress 200 chipset lags
is in its Serial ATA implementation. The ATI RS480 chipset provides SATA, rather
than SATA II.... The companies upcoming SB600 southbridge will address this
As you saw in the benchmark results, the performance of
the ECS RS480-M motherboard was quite good in office oriented and content
applications most likely to be used in an office of SOHO. In these 2D tests, the
motherboard kept pace with much more expensive motherboards. In SYSMark2004, the
Office Productivity tests and PCMark05, the board kept up with the likes of the
DFI LANPartyUT NF4 SLI-DR Expert and ABIT
Gaming performance results with the onboard CrossFire
Xpress 200 videocard were nothing to get excited about, but that is hardly
unexpected. With a PCI Express GeForce 7800GTX videocard installed the ECS
RS480-M motherboard and its ATI RS480 chipset are easily able to keep up the
pace. If you're looking to build a budget gaming box the ECS RS480-M is an
affordable platform to build up from, but this is not its ideal role. If you
chose this route, a stand alone PCI Express videocard is a must.
With a retail price of $67 CDN ($61 US, £32GBP), the ECS RS480-M
motherboard is an incredibly affordable platform on which to build a socket 939
AMD Athlon 64 or Sempron based computer. As an inexpensive office PC, the ECS
RS480-M motherboard is easy on the wallet and covers all the basics like video,
networking, audio, IDE and SATA storage. It handles email and office
applications satisfactorily with the onboard CrossFire Xpress 200 videocard, but
we'd still advise you to install a stand alone videocard - something like the Asus EAX1600XT Silent for example.
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