Conclusions and Final Thoughts
The ECS KN3 SLI2 was slightly faster than the EPoX 590SLI based motherboard at stock settings, but the difference was minimal. The leads the ECS posted were most likely due to the auto clock increases taking place under the heavy system load of the benchmarks. Though no overclocking results were posted, the ECS didn’t come close to the EPoX in that department. However, if you are looking for a low priced 590SLI motherboard, take a look at the ECS KN3SLI2. It offers good performance at a very low price.
ECS uses a Phoenix Award Flash BIOS. The Voltage options on the board are somewhat limited and are located in the Frequency/Voltage Control area. The memory voltage can be set from 1.80V-2.20V. This is somewhat of a handicap as most performance DDR2 modules default is 2.1V. The Vid voltage can be set from 1.200V to 1.400V. You can also adjust the Northbridge, the NB to CPU HT core voltage and the Southbridge Voltage. The Top Hat recovery kit is also an added plus here, as anyone who has suffered BIOS corruption can attest too.
ECS out fitted the board with four ram slots that support DDR2 400/533/667/800 MHz memory modules. ECS’s KN3-SLI2 expansion arrangement from top to bottom is PCI Express x16 Slot, PCI Express x1 slot, PCI Express x1 slot, PCI Express x16 slot, PCI and finally PCI. There are 7 SATA ports on the board, with 5 controlled by the MCP55XE Southbridge, and two SATA ports controlled by a JMB363 controller. The external SATA port is controlled by the NVIDIA MCP55XE. MCP55XE controller supports RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5, JBOD and NCQ. The JMB363 controller supports RAID 0, 1 and RAID 0+1.
Other KN3 SLI2 features include Realtek ALC883 audio codec for 8-channel HD audio and 8 x USB 2.0, Dual Gb Ethernet, 2 x S/PDIF and 2 x 1394a. ECS also included the ECS Top-Hat Flash kit, allowing you to restore the BIOS in case your current BIOS chip becomes corrupted. The KN3 SLI2 sports an interesting auto overclocking feature termed I.O.C. (Instant Overclocking Controller) that enables the system to automatically boost frequency, by detecting changes in CPU loads. The I/O back plate incorporates a fan to cool the MOSFETs and the CPU area.
Pricing and Availability
As of this writing, the ECS KN3 SLI2 is mainly found at one online retailer. Newegg has the board for a price of $119.99. Not a bad price considering the features and performance you get when compared with more expensive 590 SLI based boards.
The ECS KN3-SLI2 is a well rounded, good performing AM2 mainboard. The component color coding stands out in a crowd and will be liked by those looking for a little bling effect. The features are loaded with expansive storage, 8-channel integrated HD audio, and SLI graphics capabilities featuring full-bandwidth dual PCI-Express GPU support. While it didn’t overclock nearly as far as the EPoX, it did perform a bit better at stock settings, which makes it really easy to recommend the KN3-SLI2 to users on a budget. If you are on a budget and contemplating a 590 SLI based motherboard to operate your dual graphics card system, I strongly recommend giving the KN3-SLI2 Extreme a try.
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