ECS A890GXM-A - Powerful graphics, native 6 Gbps SATA, great performance, good layout

With no new CPUs to off er, AMD can only add higher speeds, improve efficiency, and off er new connectivity options. To that end, we now have an improved chipset for AMD CPUs to sit on. The 890GX plays into AMD’s Fusion mantra of bringing processing and graphics power together. The IGP is dubbed the Radeon HD 4290. It sticks with DirectX 10.1 rather than 11, but is capable video upscaling and accelerated HD playback (including Flash video). Hybrid Crossfire, which pairs the IGP with a low-end Radeon card, is also supported. The other interesting feature is native support for 6 Gbps SATA 3 on all internal and external SATA ports.

The ECS A890GXM-A was our first 890GX board. Its layout is decent, with no obstructions. The SATA ports are angled to the board’s edge and the primary PCIe slot is well spaced. ECS throws in dual Gigabit LAN ports and 8-channel audio. The rear panel has VGA, DVI, DisplayPort and HDMI outputs, which was a pleasant surprise. There’s no USB 3.0, but the A890GXM-AU model which does have it is also available. You get one eSATA port, but no FireWire. Strangely, there are no serial, parallel, PS/2 or even IDE ports. On the software side, ECS includes eJiff y, its customized quickloading Linux environment for browsing the Web and playing media files.

The A890GXM-A far outshone boards based on its predecessor, the 790GX. PCMark Vantage gave us 8846 points overall, compared to the older platform’s 5675 a year ago. Real-world scores were also competitive, with our audio, video and file compression tasks completing in 52, 21 and 39 seconds respectively. Lowres gaming was decent, and older games should play just fine.

Overall, the ECS A890GXM-A is a solid, all-round board which should help keep things fresh for AMD’s lineup while expanding connectivity and bumping up the standard for onboard graphics.

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