ECS C51G-M754 Motherboard Review
By Gabriel Torres on February 28, 2006


Introduction

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ECS C51G-M754 is a socket 754 motherboard based on the latest NVIDIA chipset with integrated graphics (a.k.a. on-board video), GeForce 6100, which also provides PCI Express slots. In this review we will compare its performance to commercial entry-level video cards, namely GeForce 6200 TurboCache and GeForce 6200, to other chipsets with on-board graphics (VIA K8M800 and SiS 760 GX) and also to another motherboard based on GeForce 6100.

ECS C51G-M754
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Figure 1: ECS C51G-M754.

Besides being a very simple motherboard targeted to socket 754 CPUs (socket 754 version of Athlon 64 and Sempron processors), as you can see in Figure 1, it has one x16 PCI Express slot, allowing you to disable its on-board video and install a real video card later, if you want. It also provides one x1 PCI Express slot, feature not implemented on the other GeForce 6100 motherboard we reviewed (Foxconn WinFast 6100K8MB-RS).

ECS C51G-M754
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Figure 2: This motherboard carries one x16 PCI Express slot, one x1 PCI express slot and two PCI slots.

This motherboard uses nForce 410 south bridge, having on-board video, audio and LAN, bringing also two Serial ATA ports supporting the new 300 MB/s speed (SATA-300). It has two DDR-DIMM sockets, accepting up to 2 GB of up to DDR400/PC3200 memory; its on-board audio is controlled by the nForce 410 south bridge using the Realtek ALC655 codec (6-channel audio, 90 dB signal-to-noise ratio); its LAN is also controlled by its south bridge, using Realtek RTL8201CL chip to make the interface with the physical layer; eight USB 2.0 ports, four soldered directly to the motherboard and four available through an I/O bracket, but the board doesn’t come with any bracket; and two FireWire (IEEE1394) ports, one soldered on the motherboard and the other available through an I/O bracket (the board doesn’t come with any bracket), controlled by VIA VT6307 chip. This is a feature rarely seen on motherboards with on-board video.

ECS C51G-M754
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Figure 3: Two serial ATA ports and nForce 410 south bridge.

We must mention that on the other GeForce 6100 motherboard we reviewed (Foxconn WinFast 6100K8MB-RS), the south bridge chip had a passive heatsink on, feature not implemented by ECS on C51G-M754.

ECS C51G-M754
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Figure 4: Connectors on the motherboard back, pay attention to the FireWire port soldered directly on the motherboard.

You can read more about the GeForce 6100 chipset family in our article NVIDIA GeForce 6100 and nForce 400 Chipset Family.

Theoretically this motherboard requires a 24-pin power supply (ATX12V v2.x standard, used on almost all motherboards based on PCI Express) but you can install a 20-pin power supply on it without any problem. ECS put a sticker showing you which pins to use when connection a 20-pin power supply, see Figure 5.

ECS C51G-M754
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Figure 5: Power supply connector; the sticker shows which pins to use when installing a 20-pin power supply.

Before going to our benchmarking, let’s recap the main features of this motherboard.

Main Specifications

The main specifications for ECS C51G-M754 are:

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

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 SYSmark2002, 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: Internet Content Creation and Office Productivity. The programs used on Internet Content Creation batch are the following: Dreamweaver 4.0, Photoshop 6.0.1, Premiere 6.0, Flash 5 and Windows Media Encoder. The programs used on Office Productivity batch are the following: Word 2002, Excel 2002, PowerPoint 2002, Outlook 2002, Access 2002, Netscape Communicator 6, NaturallySpeaking 5, VirusScan 5.13 and WinZip 8.0.

The software delivers specific results for each batch and also an overall performance result, all in a specific SYSmark202 unit. The results you see on the graph below.

ECS C51G-M754

ECS C51G-M754 achieved an overall performance similar to other socket 754 motherboards with on-board video that we’ve tested (PCChips M861G v1.6a, which is based on VIA K8M800, Foxconn WinFast 760GXK8MB, which is based on SiS 760 GX, and Foxconn WinFast 6100K8MB-RS, which is also based on GeForce 6100 + nForce 410).

A high-end motherboard based on nForce 3-250 Gb (MSI K8N Neo Platinum) and with a Radeon 9800 Pro installed was 4.03% faster on SYSmark2002 than ECS C51G-M754. Of course this comparison isn’t fair, but just for you to have an idea of the performance difference between an entry-level motherboard and a high-end one on SYSmark2002.

Processing Performance

We measured the motherboard processing performance through PCMark04 software. We included a high-end motherboard (MSI K8N Neo Platinum) with a Radeon 9800 Pro installed in the comparison, to check the performance of ECS C51G-M754 compared to a high-end motherboard. Of course this comparison isn’t fair, but just for you to have an idea of the performance difference between an entry-level motherboard and a high-end one on PCMark04.

ECS C51G-M754

The results were really good for ECS C51G-M754. It achieved a performance similar to Foxconn WinFast 6100K8MB-RS, which is also based on GeForce 6100 + nForce 410 and was 11.52% faster than PCChips M861G v1.6a (VIA K8M800) and 11.96% faster than Foxconn WinFast 760GXK8MB (SiS 760 GX). MSI K8N Neo Platinum (nForce 3-250 Gb) with Radeon 9800 Pro was 18.15% faster than the motherboard being reviewed. Keep in mind that PCMark04 score reflects video performance, so the motherboard with the best video card will achieve the best performance.

3D Performance: 3DMark2001 SE

We were very curious on how the integrated video from this motherboard would perform. We decided to compare GeForce 6100 performance with the performance of other entry-level video cards we had available here in our lab: a GeForce 6200 with 128 MB and 128-bit interface (from Leadtek) and a GeForce 6200 TurboCache with 64 MB and 64-bit interface (from XFX).

Of course we also compared it to the performance provided by the other motherboards with on-board video, Foxconn WinFast 760GXK8MB (SiS 760 GX, based on Mirage 2 engine, which is a DirectX 8.1 part), PCChips M861G v1.6a (VIA K8M800, based on S3 UniChrome Pro IGP engine, which is also a DirectX 7 part) and also WinFast 6100K8MB-RS, which is also based on GeForce 6100 + nForce 410.

Just to remember, GeForce 6100 is based on GeForce 6 engine, which is a DirectX 9.0c part, so these three chipsets use graphics engines from three different generations.

3DMark2001 SE measures 3D performance by making DirectX 8.1 simulations.
 
You can check the results of our benchmarking below. All the listed video cards were installed on C51G-M754 from ECS.

ECS C51G-M754

Amazingly enough the on-board video from ECS C51G-M754 was 14.73% faster than the on-board video from WinFast 6100K8MB-RS on 3DMark2001 SE, and both use the same chipset.

As you can see, the integrated graphics of GeForce 6100 performed far better than SiS 760 GX and VIA K8M800: ECS C51G-M754 was 128.67% faster than Foxconn WinFast 760GXK8MB (SiS 760 GX) and 136.84% faster than PCChips M861G v1.6a (VIA K8M800).

But don’t expect on-board video to have the same performance of an add-on card. As you can see on the chart, a GeForce 6200 TurboCache with 64 MB and 64-bit interface, which is an entry-level video card, was 94.14% faster than GeForce 6100, and a “true” GeForce 6200 with 128 MB and 128-bit interface was 175,72% faster than GeForce 6100.

3D Performance: 3DMark03

We followed the same methodology described in the previous page, but now running 3Dmark03. Keep in mind that 3DMark03 simulates DirectX 9.0 games, which are fully supported by GeForce 6100 but not by SiS 760GX (which is DirectX 8.1) and VIA K8M800 (which is DirectX 7).

You can check the results of our benchmarking below. All the listed video cards were installed on C51G-M754 from ECS.

ECS C51G-M754

Amazingly enough the on-board video from ECS C51G-M754 was 10.07% faster than the on-board video from WinFast 6100K8MB-RS on 3DMark03, and both use the same chipset.

As you can see the integrated graphics of GeForce 6100 performed far better than SiS 760 GX and VIA K8M800: ECS C51G-M754 was 787.22% faster than Foxconn WinFast 760GXK8MB (SiS 760 GX) and 963.06% faster than PCChips M861G v1.6a (VIA K8M800). Ouch.

As we’ve stated before, don’t expect on-board video to have the same performance of an add-on card. As you can see on the chart, a GeForce 6200 TurboCache with 64 MB and 64-bit interface, which is an entry-level video card, was 113.05% faster than GeForce 6100, and a “true” GeForce 6200 with 128 MB and 128-bit interface was 240.17% faster than GeForce 6100.

3D Performance: Quake III

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 the game’s default configuration and we picked the middle value for our comparisons, i.e., we discarded the highest and the lowest values.

You can check the results of our benchmarking below. All the listed video cards were installed on C51G-M754 from ECS.

ECS C51G-M754

Once again the on-board video from ECS C51G-M754 was faster than the on-board video from WinFast 6100K8MB-RS, this time by 14.14%. Really amazing, since both boards use the same chipset.

Under Quake III we’ve seen the same scenario as before: the integrated graphics of GeForce 6100 performed far better than SiS 760 GX and VIA K8M800. ECS C51G-M754 was 175.81% faster than Foxconn WinFast 760GXK8MB (SiS 760 GX) and 240.76% faster than PCChips M861G v1.6a (VIA K8M800).

As we’ve stated before, don’t expect on-board video to have the same performance of an add-on card. As you can see on the chart, a GeForce 6200 TurboCache with 64 MB and 64-bit interface, which is an entry-level video card, was 83.52% faster than GeForce 6100, and a “true” GeForce 6200 with 128 MB and 128-bit interface was 107.34% faster than GeForce 6100.

Overclocking

Contrary to its competitor, Foxconn WinFast 6100K8MB-RS, ECS C51G-M754 doesn’t bring any fancy overclocking feature. The only overclocking feature it has is the ability to increase its base clock from 200 MHz up to 400 MHz into 1 MHz steps (200 MHz through 210 MHz into 0.5 MHz steps).

On the other hand, it brings some memory timings adjustments, as you can see in Figure 6 – feature not so common on motherboards with integrated video.

ECS C51G-M754
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Figure 6: Memory timings settings available on ECS C51G-M754.

Even with just one overclocking option, we were able to put our Athlon 64 3200+ (2 GHz) running externally at 224 MHz (2.24 MHz internally), a 12% increase over the standard clock (which lead to a 9.5% performance increase on Quake III).

Conclusions

We were really impressed by this motherboard, especially the fact that its on-board video was at least 10% faster than Foxconn WinFast 6100K8MB-RS’. Really amazing, since both motherboards are based on the same chipset (GeForce 6100 + nForce 410).

The model we reviewed from Foxconn had on its side the amazing number overclocking settings, however this model from ECS, has on its side its performance, two FireWire ports (which is a rare feature on motherboards with integrated graphics) and one PCI Express x1 slot.

Not to mention what we’ve already stated before: GeForce 6100 chipset provides a far better 3D performance than SiS 760GX and VIA K8M800.

ECS C51G-M754 provides one PCI Express x16 slot, so in the future you will be able to disable your on-board video and install a better video card on it. Some motherboards with on-board video we’ve reviewed are still using AGP slots, which will be phased out pretty soon. So with ECS C51G-M754 you won’t face the risk of not finding a compatible video card for it during the next years.

If you are looking for a socket 754 with on-board video, ECS C51G-M754 is our pick. You can buy it with your eyes closed.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/ECS-C51G-M754-Motherboard-Review/289


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