While ECS may not be the favorite brand for many enthusiasts, you cannot deny that their newer designs push the innovation boundaries. Whether or not all the gold plating actually helps with stock performance, the Z87H3-A2X Extreme performed brilliantly at stock speeds.
As of August 31, the ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme motherboard was available at Newegg.com for $219.99 after $20 mail-in rebate. The board was also available from other retailers such as Amazon.com for $239.99 with Prime shipping.
Before continuing with our final thoughts on this board, we would like to take this opportunity to give our friends at ECS a hearty “Thank You” for giving us the opportunity and pleasure of reviewing their latest addition to the Golden board line, the Z87H3-A2X Extreme motherboard.
ECS did a great job with the design and layout of the Z87H3-A2X Extreme board. The gold-plated components accentuate the red and black theme giving a nice impression of the board from the start. For the price of the board, you cannot beat the amount of features and functionality built-in, including the 3-digit LED display, the 801.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities, the included eSATA and mSATA ports, and the on-board buttons and voltage points to appeal to the more adventurous enthusiasts. Its design was carefully thought out with components placed for easy access and sufficient space. Adding the heat pipe cooling and the 12-phase power system was the cherry on top. Performance-wise, it performed on-par or better than the competing systems, further proving the board's value and worth. The BIOS design was simple, yet effective in its simplicity and layout.
There were a few shortcomings with the board, the biggest with its user manual. The manual seemed to go in to great detail in certain areas, while giving only the bare minimum in others (like the bandwidth of PCI-Express ports in multi-card use). The only other issue that caught my attention was the lack of Ring bus frequency adjustment settings. The BIOS offered plenty of ways to change the other bus and voltage settings, but hid the ability to modify the Ring bus speed. This could account for the stellar stock performance since the Ring bus speed could not be limited to match the processor speed. The other concern with this is in overclocking. Ring bus speed control is critical when attempting to overclock a Haswell chip.
- Stock performance
- CMOS battery placement – accessible under most conditions
- Board layout and design
- Black and Red board coloration
- Accessible PCI-Express x1 slot in most situations
- User configurable 3-digit LED display
- CMOS battery blocked when board used in multi-GPU configuration
- lack of on-board CMOS reset jumper
- included information in manual for certain board functions
- unable to control Ring bus speed in BIOS