There were something like 370 different
variations of the Intel P45 motherboard introduced at Computex 2008 this
year when Intel unveiled its 4-series chipset family. That's a lot of
motherboard to choose from, but such is the popularity of mainstream-performance
PC gear. With a good dozen variations on the P45 framework available from
each motherboard maker right now, picking through boards is.... well...
tough. Hopefully PCSTATS can help point you in the right direction, because
today an ECS Black Series P45T-A motherboard is sitting on the test bench. The
Black Series is the name given to ECS' semi-professional
motherboards, they are supposed to come from a better pedigree than its regular lineup, yet
still hold onto that competitive price point ECS is known for.
Really inexpensive computers are easy to build,
particularly as Intel chipsets generally perform the same at stock on a $300
high end motherboard as they do on a $120 budget platform. If you're not
interested in paying extra for overclocking headroom you'll never use, the ECS P45T-A motherboard is
a great board to consider. Let's look over it's specs.
Built with the Intel P45 Express and
Intel ICH10R chipsets, the ECS P45T-A motherboard supports all Socket 775 Intel processors running
with a Front Side Bus of 800/1066/1333 MHz. That includes the new generation
of 45nm 'Yorkfield' and 'Wolfdale' Core 2 Duo processors. There
are four DDR2 memory slots on the P45T-A board, so it can
handle 8GB of DDR2-667/800 memory in dual channel configuration. For Windows
Vista we'd recommend starting off with at
Gamers who plan on running a
pair of CrossfireX enabled videocards in tandem (say, a pair of Radeon HD4850's
for example), will find two PCI Express 2.0 compliant PCIe x16 slots at their
disposal. The user manual skips over the fine print here, so we
ought to mention that one ATI or nVidia videocard will run in PCIe x16
mode, while two ATI videocards operating in CrossfireX get 8 PCIe lanes each
(x8/x8). The second PCI Express x16 slot is disabled unless it's being
used for Crossfire, but both slots are PCI Express 2.0 compliant.
|| ECS P45T-A Motherboard
(Model No.: Ver
Driver CD, User's Manual, IDE Cable, 6x
Serial ATA Cables, 6x Molex to Serial ATA Power Cables,
SP/DIF Bracket, MOSFET Heatsink, I/O Shield|
In most other respects the ECS P45T-A is a pretty
standard Intel P45 Express motherboard; six 3GB/s SATA-II ports for data storage(RAID
0, 1, 5, 10 care of Intel's ICH10R southbridge and Matrix Storage
software), one eSATA port for external hard drives (care of JMB361 chipset),
a Gigabit network jack (Athos L1 PCIe Gigalan), 7.1 channel High Definition
audio (Realtek ALC883) and twelve USB2.0 ports (6 rear IO/6 via
header). There is one IDE header for legacy optical drives, two PCI
Express x1 and two PCI slots for expansion.
The ECS P45T-A
motherboard retails for an affordable $120USD ($120CDN / £60GBP), and comes with
one of the slimmest bundles we've seen in a long time; four SATA
cables, one IDE and an I/O shield. That's it. No brackets, not even one lousy USB bracket!
Platform Power Consumption
Of late there has been a lot
of focus on motherboard level power saving features. In our experience it's mixed bag. Sometimes
the power savings feature doesn't have much impact, so the value is greatly diminished. ECS
has made efforts to be a "green" company, but mostly from a manufacturing and supply
As long as the BIOS is configured correctly, the board will
do its best to decrease heat and power draw, and that will keep fan noises
For the sake of comparison, PCSTATS measured
the total power draw from a ECS P45T-A system with an Extech 380803 Power
Analyzer. The computer was stressed with Prime 95 software, resulting
in a total system power draw of 196W under load. At idle the average power draw
was 146W. By comparison Biostar's TPower
I45 board posted results of 183.3W and 126W respectively. The hardware configuration is outlined later in this article.
What you may not know about the P45T-A motherboard is up next.... and I think this will surprise everyone.