If you're looking to build a new
workstation type PC, now is an excellent time to be shopping. Both nVIDIA with
its GeForce 7050PV and AMD with its 690G have released well rounded integrated
chipsets that offer plenty of power for most everyday tasks.
With a retail price of $71 CDN ($65 USD, £32 GBP), you really can't go wrong
with the ECS AMD690GM-M2 motherboard. Based around the AMD 690G
chipset, the motherboard is compatible with all Socket AM2 processors and with
the recent price drops, you can potentially build a dual core workstation or
multimedia machine for less than $500 CDN!
At first glance the little purple ECS AMD690GM-M2
motherboard is probably more aimed towards the workstation market with both DVI
and analog monitor support. If you choose to hook up the motherboard to your TV
though that can be done by picking up a DVI-to-HDMI converter. The converter
dongle is available at most major computer stores and would extend the
AMD690GM-M2's multimedia capabilities.
The motherboard itself isn't as user friendly as some of
the other ECS boards we've tested in the past but the user's manual is well
written so that should be able to guide you should you run into problems. It's
great to see how low CPU utilization has gone when running HD content. With
older generation hardware, seeing CPU utilization rates above 60% was quite
common, now even when running 1080P content CPU usage hovers just below 20%.
In terms of performance, the ECS AMD690GM-M2 is able to
do everything nVIDIA GeForce 6150/7050PV can do. It's fast when it comes to
workstation and data crunching although the AMD 690G chipset seems to have
slightly less memory bandwidth available. That didn't seem to affect 3D results
although if you're a gamer, you'll want to install a PCI Express x16 graphics
card no matter what integrated chipset you choose. Once that's done though the
AMD690GM-M2 performs very quickly indeed.
ECS has put together a pretty versatile yet inexpensive
motherboard in its AMD690GM-M2. If you need to build something that's super low
cost yet needs to maintain a high level of performance the ECS AMD690GM-M2
certainly delivers across the board.
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