Physical Features and Layout
This content was originally featured on Amdmb.com and has been converted to PC Perspective’s website. Some color changes and flaws may appear.The PCB layout very much reminds me of what you might find in an OEM based computer. The spacing and organization is very familiar to anyone that has ripped apart and HP, Compaq or other large brand name PC. This is not necessarily a positive or negative fact, as you will find out by reading the rest of this page.
The ATX power connector is placed at the very top-left-most corner of the board that is possible. It is far enough away from the CPU socket to not cause any problems there. Speaking of it, the 462-pin Socket-A is also well placed on the board and ECS has provided a very roomy layout for installation of large heatsinks or even the adventurous water-cooling enthusiasts. Installing the Tai Sol Copper Bottom HSF that I used during testing was a breeze and I didn’t have to worry about any capacitors getting scratched or in the way. And yes, the ECS K7S5A does use a 3-phase power solution for the best voltage regulation currently available.
Just to the right, you will notice two sets of DIMM slots. The first (colored blue) is for 184-pin DDR DRAM. The other two (colored black) support PC100/PC133 SDRAM. Having the option to use whatever memory you choose leaves the user the ability to keep the upgrade or new system cost down by using already owned PC133 memory and gives them the option to upgrade to the faster DDR memory when their pocket book allows. Using the two kinds of memory together is NOT supported or recommended.
The SiS 735 chipset is a single chip design, meaning there is no north bridge and south bridge, only the single chip located under the gold ECS heatsink. The SiS 735 runs surprisingly cool and the modest heatsink they have installed is more than adequate for standard cooling job. If you are going to be doing a lot of front-side bus overclocking (which we will go over later) you may want to consider an active cooling solution, however.
The external connections on the K7S5A provide some good features. Besides the standard PS/2, USB, serial and parallel, ECS has provided some standard AC’97 audio and an on-board 10/100 NIC (network interface). While neither of the extra features is currently top of the line, the network interface should be more than adequate for all users and the audio will help those out looking to stay as low cost as they can.
The slot configuration on the motherboard is 5/0/1/1 (PCI/ISA/AGP/AMR). The AGP slot is for 4x compatible but is not AGP Pro compatible. This really isn’t an issue now though as I have yet to see an AGP Pro card, ever. The AMR slot is included for anyone wanting to use an AMR device (such as a modem) that might decrease some costs there as well. I think most users would have preferred to see a sixth PCI slot instead of the AMR slot, but with the addition of the on-board NIC, that should counter-act some quarrels as nearly everyone now would use a PCI slot up with a network card anyway.
ECS has included two ATA/100 IDE channels and single floppy channel. ECS does not currently have plans for any IDE RAID offers for additional IDE channels, so if you do not want to purchase an add on card and NEED to have more IDE channels, the K7S5A may not be for you. The odd positioning of the IDE and floppy ports do cause the PCB to extend a little further in width than necessary and this may cause those of you with incredibly small cases a problem. Most modern ATX cases should provide adequate room, however.