ECS C19-A SLI Motherboard Review
By Gabriel Torres e Daniel Barros on June 13, 2006


Introduction

Hardware Secrets Golden Award

C19-A SLI is a socket LGA775 motherboard from ECS based on nForce4 SLI XE chipset, which is a new version of nForce4 SLI Intel Edition from NVIDIA, correcting its incompatibility with Pentium D 820 processor and also adding support for Intel high definition audio. ECS C19-A SLI apparently offers an excellent cost/benefit ratio, let’s see if this is true in our review. Let’s check it out.

This motherboard supports the following CPUs: Pentium 4 5xx, 6xx and EE series; Pentium D 8xx and 9x0 series; and Celeron D. It supports 533-, 800- and 1,066 MHz external frequencies.


 ECS C19-A SLI
click to enlarge
Figure 1: ECS C19-A SLI V. 1.0A motherboard.

Its design follows the same standard used by mainstream motherboards from ECS. nForce4 SLI XE chipset is cooled down by an aluminum active heatsink (i.e., with a fan). The NF430 south bridge chip also has a small aluminum heatsink and during our tests both chips didn’t heat a lot, contrary to its predecessor, nForce4 SLI Intel Edition, which heated a lot.

ECS C19-A SLI
click to enlarge
Figure 2: Heatsinks used on the chipset.

No special procedure is needed in order to enable SLI mode on C19-A SLI. Just install a second SLI-compatible video card and SLI mode will be enabled. With SLI mode activated, the transfer rate for each x16 PCI Express slot drops to x8 (only on nForce 4 SLI X16 and nForce 590 SLI chipsets both slots work at x16). With SLI mode enable it is necessary to install an extra power supply cable on the motherboard, and it is advisable to use a good “true wattage” power supply with at least 450 W.

Attention: This motherboard has a flaw where its main x16 PCI Express slots works at 8x even when there is just one video card installed. We will address this problem in our Conclusions section.

ECS C19-A SLI
click to enlarge
Figure 3: PCI Express slots.

As you can see in Figure 3, the distance between the two PCI Express x16 slots is the same one used on motherboards based on the first versions of SLI – very close to each other –, which may cause your video cards to overheat and also make it hard to install wider video cards or video cards using non-standard cooling systems.

C19-A SLI has for DDR2-DIMM sockets, accepting up to 16 GB of DDR2-400, 533 e 667 memory supporting dual channel configuration. On this motherboard memory sockets 1 and 3 are orange and memory sockets 2 and 4 are purple. Just install your memory modules on sockets with the same color and you will be using dual channel configuration.

ECS C19-A SLI
click to enlarge
Figure 4: Memory sockets detail.

More Features

On the storage side, this motherboard brings two ATA-133 ports and four SATA-300 ports controlled by the NF430 south bridge. Its SATA ports support NCQ (Native Command Queuing) and NVIDIA MediaShield RAID, feature that allows a RAID system supporting RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5 or JBOD.

This board comes with just one Serial ATA cable, one Serial ATA power adapter and one 80-wire IDE cable.

ECS C19-A SLI
click to enlarge
Figure 5: Four SATA-300 ports.

ECS C19-A SLI
click to enlarge
Figure 6: Cables and accessories that come with C19-A SLI.

On its networking side it features an on-board Gigabit port controlled by the NF430 south bridge, requiring just a small chip to make the physical layer interface – a Marvell 88E1115 is used here. Its on-board networking features NVIDIA’s software-based firewall system, ActiveArmor Firewall. nForce 4 SLI XE has lost NVIDIA’s hardware-based firewall system available on its predecessor, nForce4 SLI Intel Edition chipset, which uses less system processing power.

As an optional item it is possible to have an extra 10/100 on-board LAN port, controlled by Realtek 8100C chip.

C19-A SLI has an eight-channel on-board audio (7.1 standard) produced by the south bridge chip together with Realtek ALC883 codec, having individual outputs for each channel pair plus optical and coaxial SPDIF outputs soldered on the motherboard.

ECS C19-A SLI
click to enlarge
Figure 7: Motherboard rear panel.

This motherboard has eight USB 2.0 ports (four soldered on the motherboard and four available through I/O brackets) and can optionally have two FireWire (IEEE 1394a) ports.

ECS C19-A SLI comes with one CD-ROM containing drivers and several utilities.

Main Specifications

 ECS C19-A SLI main features are:

* Researched on Shopping.com on the day we published this review.

How We Tested

During our benchmarking sessions, we used the configuration listed below. Between our benchmarking sessions the only variable was the motherboard being tested.
 
Hardware Configuration

Software Configuration

Driver Versions

Used Software

We adopted a 3% error margin; thus, differences below 3% cannot be considered relevant. In other words, products with a performance difference below 3% should be considered as having similar performance.

Overall Performance

We measured the overall performance of this motherboard using SYSmark2004, which is a software that simulates the use of real-world applications. Thus, we consider this the best software to measure, in practical terms, the system performance.

The benchmarks are divided into two groups:


The software delivers specific results for each batch and also an overall performance result, all in a specific SYSmark2004 unit.

We selected the following motherboards to compare to ECS C19-A SLI:

The results you see on the chart below.

Motherboards

SYSmark 2004 -
Score

%

DFI LanParty UT 915P-T12 (Intel i915P) DDR2

192

0.00

Foxconn 915A01-P-8EKRS2 (Intel i915P) DDR2

192

0.00

ECS C19-A SLI (nForce4 SLI XE) DDR2

192

 

EPoX 5NVA+ SLI (nForce4 SLI) DDR2

191

-0.52

ECS 915P-A (Intel i915P) DDR2

191

-0.52

EPoX 5EPA+ (Intel i915P) DDR

190

-1.05

PCChips Tidalwave T18 (Intel i915P) DDR2

190

-1.05

Albatron PX915P Pro (Intel i915P) DDR

189

-1.59

DFI LanParty 875P-T (Intel i875P) DDR

189

-1.59

DFI LanParty UT 915P-T12 (Intel i915P) DDR

188

-2.13

ECS 915P-A (Intel i915P) DDR

188

-2.13

ECS 865PE-A7 (Intel i865PE) DDR

188

-2.13

PCChips Tidalwave T18 (Intel i915P) DDR

187

-2.67

MSI P4N Diamond SLI (nForce4 SLI) DDR2

187

-2.67

DFI LanParty 925X-T2 (Intel i925X) DDR2

187

-2.67

All motherboards achieved a similar performance on this test.

Processing Performance

We measured processing performance using PCMark04 program. You can see the results below.

 

 

 

Motherboards

PCMark04
(Build 1.3.0)

%

MSI P4N Diamond SLI (nForce4 SLI) DDR2

5068

+1.75

ECS 915P-A (Intel i915P) DDR2

5047

+1.33

ECS 915P-A (Intel i915P) DDR

5043

+1.24

PCChips Tidalwave T18 (Intel i915P) DDR

5025

+0.88

Albatron PX915P Pro (Intel i915P) DDR

5020

+0.78

EPoX 5EPA+ (Intel i915P) DDR

5012

+0.62

Foxconn 915A01-P-8EKRS2 (Intel i915P) DDR2

5012

+0.62

PCChips Tidalwave T18 (Intel i915P) DDR2

5010

+0.58

ECS C19-A SLI (nForce4 SLI XE) DDR2

4981

 

EPoX 5NVA+ SLI (nForce4 SLI) DDR2

4946

-0.71

DFI LanParty 875P-T (Intel i875P) DDR

4930

-1.03

ECS 865PE-A7 (Intel i865PE) DDR

4830

-3.13

DFI LanParty UT 915P-T12 (Intel i915P) DDR2

4817

-3.40

DFI LanParty 925X-T2 (Intel i925X) DDR2

4800

-3.77

DFI LanParty UT 915P-T12 (Intel i915P) DDR

4750

-4.86

ECS C19-A SLI achieved the same performance level of almost all motherboards included in our comparison, being faster than ECS 865PE-A7 (Intel i865PE) DDR, DFI LanParty UT 915P-T12 (Intel i915P) DDR2/DDR and DFI LanParty 925X-T2 (Intel i925X) DDR2.

3D Performance: 3DMark2001 SE

One of the best ways to measure the performance of a PC is through 3D games, since they usually pull the maximum power from the motherboard, memory, CPU, video card and hard disk drive. We chose five programs for measuring the 3D performance of the motherboard being reviewed: 3DMark2001 SE, 3DMark03, 3DMark05, Doom 3 and Quake III Arena. The motherboards with SLI feature were tested twice, one with SLI enabled and another without SLI configuration.

3DMark2001 SE

3DMark2001 SE simulates DirectX 8.1 games. We used this program to see how the motherboard being reviewed acts running games from this generation. You can find the results below.

Motherboards

3DMark2001 SE
(Build 3.3.0)

%

ECS C19-A SLI (nForce4 SLI XE) SLI/DDR2 

18771

+1.93

ECS C19-A SLI (nForce4 SLI XE) Normal/DDR2 

18416

 

EPoX 5NVA+ SLI (nForce4 SLI) Normal/DDR2  

18400

-0.09

Foxconn 915A01-P-8EKRS2 (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR2 

18327

-0.49

ECS 915P-A (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR2  

18186

-1.26

PCChips Tidalwave T18 (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR2  

18057

-1.99

EPoX 5EPA+ (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR 

18028

-2.15

ECS 915P-A (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR 

17949

-2.60

DFI LanParty 875P-T (Intel i875P) AGP/DDR 

17948

-2.61

PCChips Tidalwave T18 (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR 

17941

-2.65

DFI LanParty 925X-T2 (Intel i925X) PCI-E/DDR2 

17915

-2.80

DFI LanParty UT 915P-T12 (Intel i915P) DDR2 

17818

-3.36

Albatron PX915P Pro (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR 

17729

-3.88

ECS 865PE-A7 (Intel i865PE) AGP/DDR 

17620

-4.52

DFI LanParty UT 915P-T12 (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR 

17407

-5.80

ECS 915P-A (Intel i915P) AGP-Express/DDR2 

14005

-31.50

PCChips Tidalwave T18 (Intel i915P) AGP-Pro/DDR2 

13857

-32.90

Under normal mode ECS C19-A SLI achieved a performance similar to the majority of motherboards included in our tests, being faster than DFI LanParty UT 915P-T12 (Intel i915P) DDR2/DDR, Albatron PX915P Pro (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR, ECS 865PE-A7 (Intel i865PE) AGP/DDR, ECS 915P-A (Intel i915P) AGP-Express/DDR2 and PCChips Tidalwave T18 (Intel i915P) AGP-Pro/DDR2.

We included ECS C19-A SLI results with SLI for you to compare the performance difference you may expect when enabling SLI on this motherboard. As you can see, the performance measured by 3DMark2001 SE increased only 1.93% when we enabled SLI and we cannot consider this performance increase considerable. This result was expected, since older games aren’t optimized to use SLI.

Comparing the results among SLI-enabled motherboards (see table below), ECS C19-A SLI achieved a performance similar to other motherboards we tested.

Motherboards

3DMark2001 SE
(Build 3.3.0)

%

MSI P4N Diamond SLI (nForce4 SLI) SLI/DDR2 

19070

+1.59

EPoX 5NVA+ SLI (nForce4 SLI) SLI/DDR2 

18893

+0.65

ECS C19-A SLI (nForce4 SLI XE) SLI/DDR2 

18771

 

 

3D Performance: 3DMark03

3DMark03 simulates DirectX 9 games, which are the games available today on the market. So we used this software to see how the motherboard being reviewed acts running DirectX 9.0 games.

You can check the results below.

Motherboards

3Dmark03
(Build 3.6.0

%

ECS C19-A SLI (nForce4 SLI XE) SLI/DDR2 

14013 

+62.45

MSI P4N Diamond SLI (nForce4 SLI) Normal/DDR2 

8632

+0.07

EPoX 5NVA+ SLI (nForce4 SLI) Normal/DDR2 

8632

+0.07

ECS C19-A SLI (nForce4 SLI XE) Normal/DDR2 

8626

 

Foxconn 915A01-P-8EKRS2 (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR2 

8609

-0.20

PCChips Tidalwave T18 (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR2 

8582

-0.51

ECS 915P-A (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR 

8579

-0.55

ECS 915P-A (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR2 

8577

-0.57

PCChips Tidalwave T18 (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR 

8577

-0.57

EPoX 5EPA+ (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR 

8574

-0.61

Albatron PX915P Pro (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR 

8548

-0.91

DFI LanParty 875P-T (Intel i875P) AGP/DDR 

8535

-1.07

ECS 865PE-A7 (Intel i865PE) AGP/DDR

8511

-1.35

DFI LanParty UT 915P-T12 (Intel i915P) DDR2 

8478

-1.75

DFI LanParty 925X-T2 (Intel i925X) PCI-E/DDR2

 8472 

-1.82

DFI LanParty UT 915P-T12 (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR 

8447

-2.12

PCChips Tidalwave T18 (Intel i915P) AGP-Pro/DDR2 

7485

-15.24

ECS 915P-A (Intel i915P) AGP-Express/DDR2 

7469

-15.49

Under normal mode ECS C19-A SLI achieved a performance similar to the majority of motherboards included in our tests, being faster only than the two boards that have an AGP slot derived from PCI Express bus, called AGP-Pro by PCChips and AGP-Express by ECS.

We included ECS C19-A SLI results with SLI for you to compare the performance difference you may expect when enabling SLI on this motherboard. Enabling SLI we had a 62.45% performance increase on this test.

Comparing the results among SLI-enabled motherboards (see table below), ECS C19-A SLI achieved a performance similar to other motherboards we tested.

Motherboards

3Dmark03
(Build 3.6.0

%

ECS C19-A SLI (nForce4 SLI XE) SLI/DDR2 

14013 

 

EPoX 5NVA+ SLI (nForce4 SLI) SLI/DDR2 

13992

-0.15

MSI P4N Diamond SLI (nForce4 SLI) SLI/DDR2 

13950

-0.45

 

3D Performance: 3DMark05

3DMark05 measures performance by simulating DirectX 9.0c games, i.e., using Shader 3.0 model. This programming model is used by games like Far Cry. This programming model is used by GeForce series 6 and 7 from NVIDIA and Radeon X1000 series from ATI.

You can find the results below.

Motherboards

3Dmark05
(Build 1.2.0)

%

ECS C19-A SLI (nForce4 SLI XE) SLI/DDR2 

6109

+73.21

EPoX 5NVA+ SLI (nForce4 SLI) Normal/DDR2 

3593

+1.87

Foxconn 915A01-P-8EKRS2 (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR2 

3590

+1.79

MSI P4N Diamond SLI (nForce4 SLI) Normal/DDR2 

3573

+1.30

PCChips Tidalwave T18 (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR2 

3572

+1.28

ECS 915P-A (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR2 

3563

+1.02

Albatron PX915P Pro (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR 

3532

+0.14

DFI LanParty UT 915P-T12 (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR 

3529

+0.06

PCChips Tidalwave T18 (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR 

3527

0.00

ECS C19-A SLI (nForce4 SLI XE) Normal/DDR2  

3527

EPoX 5EPA+ (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR 

3526

-0.03

DFI LanParty 875P-T (Intel i875P) AGP/DDR 

3347

-5.38

ECS 865PE-A7 (Intel i865PE) AGP/DDR 

3330

-5.92

DFI LanParty 925X-T2 (Intel i925X) PCI-E/DDR2 

3166

-11.40

ECS 915P-A (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR 

3160

-11.61

DFI LanParty UT 915P-T12 (Intel i915P) DDR2 

3075

-14.70

PCChips Tidalwave T18 (Intel i915P) AGP-Pro/DDR2 

1323

-166.59

ECS 915P-A (Intel i915P) AGP-Express/DDR2 

1297

-171.94

On this test ECS C19-A SLI achieved a performance similar to the majority of motherboards we tested, being faster than DFI LanParty 875P-T (Intel i875P) AGP/DDR, ECS 865PE-A7 (Intel i865PE) AGP/DDR, DFI LanParty 925X-T2 (Intel i925X) PCI-E/DDR2, ECS 915P-A (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR, DFI LanParty UT 915P-T12 (Intel i915P) DDR2, PCChips Tidalwave T18 (Intel i915P) AGP-Pro/DDR2 and ECS 915P-A (Intel i915P) AGP-Express/DDR2.

We included ECS C19-A SLI results with SLI for you to compare the performance difference you may expect when enabling SLI on this motherboard. Enabling SLI we had a 73.21% performance increase on this test.

Comparing the results among SLI-enabled motherboards (see table below), ECS C19-A SLI achieved a performance similar to other motherboards we tested.

Motherboards

3Dmark05
(Build 1.2.0)

%

MSI P4N Diamond SLI (nForce4 SLI) SLI/DDR2

6121

+0.20

ECS C19-A SLI (nForce4 SLI XE) SLI/DDR2

6109

 

EPoX 5NVA+ SLI (nForce4 SLI) SLI/DDR2

5943

-2.79

3D Performance: Doom 3

Doom 3 is one of the heaviest games available today. We run this game at 1024x768x32 resolution at high quality. We run demo1 four times and wrote the obtained number of frames per second. The first result we discarded at once, since it is far inferior than the other results. This happens because at the first time we run the demo the game must load all textures to video memory, fact that doesn’t happen from the second time we run the demo on. From the three results left, we consider as our official result the middle result, i.e., we discard the highest and the lowest values.

Curiously almost all times the values obtained at the second round on were the same.
A very important detail that we must mention is that Doom 3 has an internal FPS lock: it is only capable of generating 60 frames per second, even if your PC is able to produce more frames per second than that. This is done in order to make the game to have the same “playability” sensation independently from the video card installed on the PC. This lock, however, is disabled in the game benchmarking mode.

Below you will find the results.

Motherboards

Doom 3 - FPS

%

ECS C19-A SLI (nForce4 SLI XE) SLI/DDR2 

91.4

+15.70

MSI P4N Diamond SLI (nForce4 SLI) Normal/DDR2 

79.8

+1.01

Foxconn 915A01-P-8EKRS2 (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR2 

79.3

+0.38

ECS C19-A SLI (nForce4 SLI XE) Normal/DDR2

79

ECS 915P-A (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR2 

78.8

-0.25

EPoX 5NVA+ SLI (nForce4 SLI) Normal/DDR2 

78.7

-0.38

PCChips Tidalwave T18 (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR2 

78.3

-0.89

ECS 915P-A (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR 

77.9

-1.41

DFI LanParty 875P-T (Intel i875P) AGP/DDR 

77.8

-1.54

Albatron PX915P Pro (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR 

77.5

-1.94

PCChips Tidalwave T18 (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR 

77.4

-2.07

EPoX 5EPA+ (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR 

77.3

-2.20

ECS 865PE-A7 (Intel i865PE) AGP/DDR 

77

-2.60

DFI LanParty UT 915P-T12 (Intel i915P) DDR2 

72.5

-8.97

DFI LanParty 925X-T2 (Intel i925X) PCI-E/DDR2 

72.3

-9.27

DFI LanParty UT 915P-T12 (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR 

71.1

-11.11

ECS 915P-A (Intel i915P) AGP-Express/DDR2 

20.7 

-281.64

PCChips Tidalwave T18 (Intel i915P) AGP-Pro/DDR2 

20

-295.00

On this test ECS C19-A SLI achieved a performance similar to the majority of motherboards we tested, being faster than DFI LanParty UT 915P-T12 (Intel i915P) DDR2/DDR, DFI LanParty 925X-T2 (Intel i925X) PCI-E/DDR2, ECS 915P-A (Intel i915P) AGP-Express/DDR2 and PCChips Tidalwave T18 (Intel i915P) AGP-Pro/DDR2.

We included ECS C19-A SLI results with SLI for you to compare the performance difference you may expect when enabling SLI on this motherboard. Enabling SLI we had a 15.70% performance increase on this test.

Comparing the results among SLI-enabled motherboards (see table below), ECS C19-A SLI achieved a performance level similar to MSI P4N Diamond SLI (nForce4 SLI) SLI/DDR2, being 4.22% faster than EPoX 5NVA+ SLI (nForce4 SLI) SLI/DDR2.

Motherboards

Doom 3 - FPS

%

ECS C19-A SLI (nForce4 SLI XE) SLI/DDR2

91.4

 

MSI P4N Diamond SLI (nForce4 SLI) SLI/DDR2 

90.5

+0.99

EPoX 5NVA+ SLI (nForce4 SLI) SLI/DDR2 

87.7

+4.22

3D Performance: Quake III

Even though this is an old game its importance comes from the fact its engine is used by several other games, like Jedi Knight II and Medal of Honor, and also because this game is very sensitive to any changes on the hardware configuration. So we used this game to check how the reviewed motherboard acted running old but popular games.

We used the demo four available on version 1.32 of Quake III to make our benchmarking with this game. We ran this demo three times at 1024x768x32 resolution and all image quality settings on their default configuration and we picked the middle value for our comparisons, i.e., we discarded the highest and the lowest values.

Check the results below.

Motherboards

Quake III - FPS

%

MSI P4N Diamond SLI (nForce4 SLI) Normal/DDR2 

359.7

+11.12

ECS C19-A SLI (nForce4 SLI XE) Normal/DDR2 

323.7

 

EPoX 5NVA+ SLI (nForce4 SLI) Normal/DDR2 

321

-0.84

ECS 915P-A (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR2 

320

-1.16

Foxconn 915A01-P-8EKRS2 (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR2 

319.8

-1.22

DFI LanParty 925X-T2 (Intel i925X) PCI-E/DDR2 

319.6

-1.28

DFI LanParty UT 915P-T12 (Intel i915P) DDR2 

317.8

-1.86

DFI LanParty UT 915P-T12 (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR 

315

-2.76

PCChips Tidalwave T18 (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR2 

313.6

-3.22

DFI LanParty 875P-T (Intel i875P) AGP/DDR 

310.4

-4.28

PCChips Tidalwave T18 (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR 

310.3

-4.32

Albatron PX915P Pro (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR 

309.5

-4.59

EPoX 5EPA+ (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR 

309.1

-4.72

ECS 915P-A (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR 

307.2

-5.37

ECS 865PE-A7 (Intel i865PE) AGP/DDR 

302.4

-7.04

ECS C19-A SLI (nForce4 SLI XE) SLI/DDR2 

296.5

-9.17

ECS 915P-A (Intel i915P) AGP-Express/DDR2 

106.6

-203.66

PCChips Tidalwave T18 (Intel i915P) AGP-Pro/DDR2 

106.6

-203.66

Under normal mode on Quake III ECS C19-A SLI was beaten only by MSI P4N Diamond SLI (nForce4 SLI) Normal/DDR2, being faster than PCChips Tidalwave T18 (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR2/DDR, DFI LanParty 875P-T (Intel i875P) AGP/DDR, Albatron PX915P Pro (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR, EPoX 5EPA+ (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR, ECS 915P-A (Intel i915P) PCI-E/DDR, ECS 865PE-A7 (Intel i865PE) AGP/DDR, ECS 915P-A (Intel i915P) AGP-Express/DDR2 and PCChips Tidalwave T18 (Intel i915P) AGP-Pro/DDR2.

We included ECS C19-A SLI results with SLI mode enabled for you to compare the performance difference you may expect when enabling SLI on this motherboard. When we enabled SLI the 3D performance dropped 9.17%. This result was expected, since older games aren’t optimized to use SLI and in several cases the performance, instead of increasing, decrease, as we experienced.

Comparing the results among SLI-enabled motherboards (see table below),  MSI P4N Diamond SLI (nForce4 SLI) SLI/DDR2 was 4.69% faster than ECS C19-A SLI, but the reviewed motherboard from ECS was 7.19% faster than EPoX 5NVA+ SLI (nForce4 SLI) SLI/DDR2.

But keep in mind that on Quake III SLI decreases the system performance instead of increasing it (see previous table).

Motherboards

Quake III - FPS

%

MSI P4N Diamond SLI (nForce4 SLI) SLI/DDR2 

310.4

+4.69

ECS C19-A SLI (nForce4 SLI XE) SLI/DDR2 

296.5

 

EPoX 5NVA+ SLI (nForce4 SLI) SLI/DDR2 

276.6

-7.19

Overclocking

Since this motherboard is based on nForce4 SLI XE chipser from NVIDIA, it doesn’t have an overclocking lock, read our tutorial on this subject.

The goal of our overclocking test is to check what is the maximum clock rate we can achieve with our Pentium 4 640 (3,200 MHz) CPU, which has a 200 MHz (800 MHz QDR) external bus and a 16x clock multiplier (factory-locked).

Keep in mind that for an overclocking to be considered valid, the motherboard must flawlessly load Windows and run demo 1 from Doom 3 at least four times, also without giving any errors.

ECS C19-A SLI - BIOS 1.0D overclocking options:

ECS C19-A SLI has basic overclocking options. For radical overclockers, some options are missing, like chipset voltage and PCI Express voltage adjustments.

ECS C19-A SLI
click to enlarge
Figure 8: Basic overclocking options on ECS C19-A SLI.

ECS C19-A SLI
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Figure 9: Basic memory timings settings.

On the graph below you can check the maximum external clock rate we could achieve with this motherboard.

We have to make it clear that overclocking results depend a lot on the CPU that is being used, and some CPUs achieve a higher clock rate than others, so the results from our tests are relative to the Pentium 4 model we used. Other models can achieve better or even worse results that we did.

Featuring a chipset without overclocking protection, ECS C19-A SLI achieved an excellent result, surpassed by only 3 MHz by DFI LanParty 925X-T2 (Intel i925X) and achieving a better overclocking than all other motherboards based on nForce4 SLI Intel Edition chipset that we reviewed. With this motherboard we could put our CPU running externally at 250 MHz (1,000 MHz QDR), making our CPU to run at 4 GHz internally, an outstanding result (25% increase on the CPU internal clock).

Conclusions

ECS C19-A SLI is a good and cheap motherboard. It brings an excellent performance. excellent overclocking capability and is at the same time the cheapest socket LGA775 motherboard supporting SLI technology that you will find on the market.

With it you can enjoy the excellent cost/benefit ratio from Pentium D 805 CPU, which has a low price point and great overclocking potential, and assemble an excellent PC without spending a lot.

It is really impressive how ECS was able to make a motherboard with excellent performance, quality and support to the latest technologies (Gigabit LAN. SATA II, NCQ, SLI. eight-channel high definition audio) costing so little.

You need to be careful about this motherboard, though. First, its NCQ feature only works if you install a chipset driver above version 8.25, which is available here.

The second problem is that this motherboard has a flaw where its main x16 PCI Express slot doesn't work at x16 even if you have just one video card installed.We were lucky to perform all our tests with just one video card installed first, where its x16 PCI Express slot was really running at x16, but after testing its SLI mode the motherboard didn’t come back to normal mode, locking the x16 PCI Express slots in SLI mode (x8 mode), reducing the transfer rate of the main x16 PCI Express slot. We tried everything possible to solve this issue, from clearing CMOS memory to turning on the motherboard without any video card installed to see if it came back to normal.

Instead of fixing this issue, ECS changed this motherboard specs on their website, now claiming that both x16 PCI Express slots run at x8 all the time, regardless if you are running on SLI mode or not.

If you don’t mind lacking a second on-board LAN and FireWire ports. ECS C19-A SLI is today the best option for you to build a high-performance SLI system (and you can even use Pentium D with it) spending very little.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/ECS-C19-A-SLI-Motherboard-Review/342


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