Connectivity and Accessories
The KN1 sports four SATA-II 3.0GB/s connections and two SATA 1.5GB/s connections onboard. Four of these connections are courtesy of the NVIDIA nForce 4 MCP and is capable of RAID 0, 1, 0+1 and JBOD. The two SATA connections run off a SiS180 chip which allows for another RAID 0, 1, 0+1 and JBOD configuration.
To run counter to most other nForce 4 offerings by its competitors, ECS includes a third ATA-133 channel in addition to the two included on the nForce 4 MCP. I personally only have one SATA drive and five high-capacity ATA-133 drives, so this kind of ATA-133 support is extremely welcoming.
KN1 Extreme boasts up to ten USB 2.0 devices thanks to four ports on the rear I/O and three USB 2.0 headers onboard. There are also two IEEE1394a headers in 6-pin and 4-pin (mini Firewire) using the bundled bracket.
One of the things I wish was stronger on the ECS KN1 Extreme is the audio. It uses a Realtek ALC655 (AC’97 v2.3) chip, which I suppose helps keep costs down while providing audio that’s decent enough for most users. The audio connections on the back I/O uses three jack-sensing jacks which could make using different audio input and output a challenge. There are also two flavours of SPDIF output, though only one is usable at a time.
On the back of the board, there are two LAN connections: one is a Marvell 88E111 Gigabit controller (10/100/1000 MB/s), and the other is a Realtek 8100C 10/100 MB/s controller. Although two Gigabit connections would have been better, ECS chooses not to do that to keep costs down. Besides, you won’t be getting Gigabit Internet at home anytime soon so feel free to connect that 10/100 to your service provider and use the Gigabit for your LAN.
Also on the back are PS/2 connections, and a old serial port. There is also a parallel port that comes on a bracket.
Unlike all other ECS boards we have reviewed in the past, the KN1 Extreme breaks away from the pack by offering a significant accessories package. Let’s first run-down the “standard” accessories. There are:
- Six orange SATA cables
- One ATA-133 cable
- One Floppy cable
- One SATA-Molex “Y” power splitter
- One parallel port bracket
Now for the nontraditional parts.
The package includes a IEEE1394a and USB bracket which in itself is not too interesting, but ECS takes it for a spin and bundles a 3.5″ mounting bay for the bracket. The cables on the bracket are longer than the typical bracket so it should be enough to wire in most ATX cases where the 3.5″ bay is closer to the bottom.
The next interesting item in the package is the Top-Hat Flash. This is a handy tool used to boot your ECS KN1 Extreme in the event your onboard BIOS chip gets corrupted and unusable. The instructions are very simple and detailed as you can see below.
Click to Enlarge.
Some of you geeks out there will know this procedure as “Hot Swapping” a BIOS. While this sort of BIOS restoration has been done by enthusiasts for years, ECS is the first company I know of to make it available to consumers and in a package that’s a lot easier than using a screwdriver or a paperclip to lift a dead BIOS chip.
The final unusual part amoung the accessories is a CAT5e crossover cable. This makes direct PC networking a bit easier without having to find a hub or a switch.