This is an entry-level motherboard for the socket AM2 platform, clearly targeted for the new socket AM2-based Sempron CPUs. From this motherboard specs and performance, we don’t recommend it to be used with an Athlon 64, at least while the Athlon 64 models available for the socket AM2 are still above the USD 100 range.
We were very disappointed with the performance of GeForce 6100-405. We expected much more from it, especially because its engine runs at a higher clock rate than Radeon Xpress 1100 (425 MHz vs. 300 MHz) and is Shader 3.0 while its competitor is Shader 2.0. GeForce 6100-405 was faster than Radeon Xpress 1100 only on 3DMark05, and they achieved the same performance level on Quake III. On all other 3D programs Radeon Xpress 1100 was faster.
But if you won’t play games, this motherboard can be an interesting option, as on PCMark05 it achieved a higher performance than RS485M-M, which is based on Radeon Xpress 1100. But if you are really not going to play any games at all, you may think of buying a very low-end motherboard, like the ones based on chipsets provided by SiS for your low-end socket AM2 Sempron system.
Like we’d expect for a motherboard with on-board video, you will be able to run old games with a reasonable performance, however it isn’t good enough for running the latest titles. Its on-board video is worse than GeForce 6200 TurboCache 64 MB with 64-bit interface, which is one of the most low-end video cards available on the market.
The good news is that you can, in the future, disable its on-board video and install a real video card on its x16 PCI Express slot, which runs at x8. That is another problem with this motherboard. You won’t achieve the same performance of a high-end motherboard by simply installing a “real” video card on it because its main PCI Express slot runs half-speed. On Quake 3 and Quake 4 our GeForce 7800 GTX installed on ASUS M2N32-SLI De Luxe was respectively 19.08% and 11.59% faster than this same video card installed on ECS GeForce6100SM-M.
Even though ECS GeForce6100SM-M achieved a lower performance than ECS RS485M-M, its Serial ATA ports are SATA-300, while RS485M-M’s are SATA-150.
As ECS GeForce6100SM-M and ECS RS485M-M cost practically the same thing, the final decision is yours: do you want SATA-300 ports or a better 3D performance?