ECS KN3 SLI2 Extreme Motherboard Review

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Even though the main power supply connector allows you to connect an old 20-pin power supply to this motherboard (as you can see in Figure 5, the extra four pins are closed with a sticker), we do not recommend you doing so. Also, this motherboard has an auxiliary power connector using a standard peripheral male power connector located next to the orange x16 PCI Express slot. You have to install a peripheral cable coming from the power supply to this connector if you use two video cards otherwise your system will become unstable.

ECS KN3 SLI2Figure 5: Main power supply connector.

On the memory side, this motherboard has four DDR2-DIMM sockets, supporting up to 32 GB up to DDR2-800. On this motherboard sockets 1 and 2 are orange and sockets 3 and 4 are purple. To use DDR2 dual channel on this motherboard just install the memory modules on sockets using the same color.

On the storage side this motherboard has a total of eight SATA-300 ports and two ATA/133 ports. Six SATA-300 ports and one of the ATA/133 ports are controlled by the chipset and the other two SATA-300 ports and the other ATA/133 port are controlled by a JMicron JMB363 chip. The ports controlled by the chipset support RAID0, 1, 0+1, 6 and JBOD configuration, while the ports controlled by the Jmicron chip support RAID0,1 and JBOD configuration.

One of the SATA-300 ports controlled by the chipset is located externally on the rear panel. This port and the ones controlled by the JMicron chip support Port Multiplier. Port multiplier is a technology targeted to external hard disk drives, allowing you to connect up to five Serial ATA hard disk drives to a single SATA-300 port. In order to use five SATA HDDs on this port you need an external port multiplier bridge, which is an external device sold separately. The hard disks are connected to this device, while this device is connected to this port multiplier port.

What is good about this motherboard is that it comes with an I/O bracket that allows you to connect one of the two SATA-300 ports controlled by the JMicron chip externally, allowing you to use Port Multiplier on it (Port Multiplier connector is different from the standard SATA connector). So the SATA I/O bracket that comes with this board is to be installed on one of the SATA ports controlled by the JMicron chip (red connectors) not on the SATA ports controlled by the chipset (orange connectors). This motherboard also comes with an external SATA cable to be used by this I/O bracket or by the external SATA connector that is soldered on the rear panel of the motherboard.

This motherboard has 10 USB 2.0 ports (four soldered on the motherboard) and two FireWire (IEEE1394) ports controlled by VIA VT6308 chip. This motherboard comes with just one I/O bracket with two USB ports and one FireWire port, so four USB ports and one FireWire port are left over. On the other side, this motherboard comes with a plastic frame for installing the USB and FireWire connectors on any 3.5” bay of the computer case, allowing you to have your USB and FireWire ports on the case front panel.

This motherboard has two Gigabit Ethernet ports, both controlled by the south bridge using two Marvell 88E1116 chips to make the physical layer interface. In the motherboard box you will find a cross-over cable for free, allowing you to build a small network between your computer and any other computer without using a router.

This motherboard has an eight-channel on-board audio, produced by the chipset together with Realtek ALC883 codec. This codec provides a low (for today’s standards) signal-to-noise ratio for its inputs – only 85 dB. So it is not advisable to use this motherboard for professional audio capturing and editing (the minimum recommended for this application is 95 dB), unless you install a professional add-on audio card on it. Also the maximum sampling rate for its inputs is of 96 kHz, while its outputs supports up to 192 kHz. The signal-to-noise ratio for its output is of 95 dB. So ECS could have used a better codec.

ECS could have soldered at least SPDIF outputs on this motherboard. If you want to connect your motherboard to a home theater system you will need to buy a SPDIF I/O bracket, as this motherboard doesn’t come with one.

ECS KN3 SLI2Figure 6: Rear panel.

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Author: Gabriel Torres

Gabriel Torres is a Brazilian best-selling ICT expert, with 24 books published. He started his online career in 1996, when he launched Clube do Hardware, which is one of the oldest and largest websites about technology in Brazil. He created Hardware Secrets in 1999 to expand his knowledge outside his home country.

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