In The Box

The box bundle, while substantial, has positive points and negative points.  What we have in the box is 12 SATA cables (two with right angled heads), a USB 3.0 front or rear panel with room for an SSD, a long flexible SLI connector, and the usual internals such as IO panel, driver CD and manuals.  Two things to note - other competitors usually include more SLI connectors, and the USB 3.0 front panel cable isn't that long, such that in dual GPU mode it would only be suitable for the bottom of the front of the case, or as a rear USB 3.0 panel.

Image courtesy of Newegg

Board Features

ECS X79R-AX (Black Extreme)
Size ATX
CPU Interface LGA2011
CPU Support Intel Second Generation Core i7 Sandy Bridge E
Chipset Intel X79
Base Clock Frequency 99.8 MHz
Core Voltage Default, -300 mV to +700 mV
CPU Clock Multiplier Auto, 12x to 1000x
DRAM Voltage Auto, -300 mV to +500 mV
DRAM Command Rate Auto, 1N to 3N
Memory Slots Four DDR3 DIMM slots supporting up to 32 GB
Up to Quad Channel
Support for DDR3, 1067-2400 MHz
Expansion Slots 2 x PCIe Gen 3 x16
2 x PCIe Gen 3 x8
2 x PCIe x1
Onboard SATA/RAID 2 x SATA 6 Gbps, Support for RAID 0, 1, 5, 10
4 x SATA 3 Gbps, Support for RAID 0, 1, 5, 10
4 x SATA 6 Gbps (labelled SAS), support for RAID 0, 1, 5, 10
Onboard 4 x SATA 3 Gbps (PCH)
8 x SATA 6 Gbps (2 PCH, 4 'SAS', 2 Controller)
5 x Fan Headers
1 x 4-pin Molex CFX/SLI Power Connector
1 x SPDIF Out Header
1 x Front Panel Header
1 x Front Panel Audio Header
2 x USB 2.0 Headers
1 x USB 3.0 Header
1 x COM Header
1 x Clear CMOS header
Power/Reset Buttons + Debug LED
Onboard LAN Dual RealTek RTL 8111E Gigabit Lan
Onboard Audio Realtek ALC892
Power Connectors 1 x 24-pin ATX connector
1 x 8-pin 12V connector
1 x 4-pin Molex CFX/SLI Power Connector
Fan Headers 2 x CPU Fan Header (4-pin)
1 x SYS Headers (3-pin)
2 x PWR Headers (3-pin)
IO Panel 1 x PS/2 Mouse and Keyboard Port
1 x Wireless LAN
1 x Bluetooth
6 x USB 2.0
4 x USB 3.0
2 x eSATA 6 Gbps
2 x Gigabit Ethernet
Audio Jacks
BIOS Version 26/12/2012
Warranty Period 3 Years

Again, the ECS has a few positive and negative points with the board features as well.  While we have dual gigabit Ethernet, some users may not enjoy they fact that they are Realtek, rather than the Intel NICs we see on almost all the major competitor boards.  One other point of contention is that there are only four DIMM slots for one per channel, rather than eight DIMM slots for two per channel, or that the board uses the Realtek ALC892 rather than the ALC898 that all the other boards at this price range use.  But I really like the fact that for this price, we can get an X79 board with onboard WiFi, Bluetooth, dual NICs, and twelve SATA ports and still enough space for dual/quad GPUs.  It's a combination you will not see on many other products.

Software

Ever since I started reviewing ECS boards, such as P67 and Fusion, there has not been much change in the software available, thus I won't go into detail on many of the specifics, but the package includes at least one gem in their fan controls. 

eSF (SF for Smart FAN) controls the SYS headers on the board, allowing for hysteresis in the fan settings.  This is a feature we don't see on other boards (ASUS controls are pretty good in comparison for multi-point curves, but don't do hysteresis), and it definitely worked for ECS when I tested it.

Other software onboard is eOC (OC for OverClock), which gives user control of the BCLK and the voltages.  This is still software used for older chipsets, as we don't have access to changing the CPU multiplier, or that modern CPUs go into various power states and voltages depending on load, meaning that the CPU voltage selections in eOC can fluctuate wildly.  I wouldn't touch the voltages with this tool if I were an end user, in case I accidentally set 1.4 V in an idle state and it then added another +300 mV for a loaded state.

The two other parts of the package are eBLU, a BIOS Live Update tool, and eDLU, a tool which links to the webpage with all the latest drivers.

ECS X79R-AX - BIOS and Overclocking Test Setup, Temperatures and Power Consumption
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36 Comments

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  • connor4312 - Friday, January 13, 2012 - link

    Good mobo, great price (relatively). Now if only the 3930k would come back in stock... Reply
  • Ratman6161 - Monday, January 16, 2012 - link

    That may not be true if you want a 32 GB memory configuration. With 4 Dimm slots you need 8 GB modules where with the boards with 8 slots you can use cheaper 4 GB modules. Checked NE and saw 4x8 kits going for about $100 more than 8x4. If 16 GB is enough for you (and honestly, how many people really NEED more than 16 GB) then this won't matter. But if you want to go for 32 it may actually come out cheaper to buy a more expensive mother board with 8 slots. Reply
  • gw33dz - Friday, January 20, 2012 - link

    That's a good point, on the other hand, if your going the way of 2011 then your going for performance, and i believe (correct me if i'm wrong) that 4 populated ram slots will perform better than 8, in quad channel. I've based this on the principals of dual channel, and I would actually appreciate confirmation either way if my assumption is correct. Those 8GB module kits are pricey at the moment, but another benefit (if you need the 32GB) will be lower power consumption and therefore less heat generation.
    It's interesting to note with this mobo the dual GB Network adapters, I really wonder why most other x79's are neglecting this feature.
    Reply
  • flipmode - Friday, January 13, 2012 - link

    There are some golden rules to follow once it comes to building your own computer. One of those golden rules is:

    Do *NOT* buy ECS.

    ECS sucks. I don't care if they accidentally did an "OK" job this time. Surely their BIOS support will be a total disappointment just as it is already clear that they cut a bunch of corners on this board to begin with.

    Do *NOT* buy ECS.
    Reply
  • AssBall - Friday, January 13, 2012 - link

    I dunno if you had some bad experiences or what, but I have done a few builds with ECS and thought the quality and reliability were pretty good. Also always an excellent value.

    I never tried one of their enthusiast boards though.
    Reply
  • futurepastnow - Friday, January 13, 2012 - link

    Years ago, ECS merged with another company, PC Chips, which many years earlier infamously sold 486 motherboards with fake caches and counterfeit chipsets.

    Some geeks never forget.
    Reply
  • estover - Friday, January 13, 2012 - link

    futurepastnow said:

    "Years ago, ECS merged with another company, PC Chips, which many years earlier infamously sold 486 motherboards with fake caches and counterfeit chipsets.

    Some geeks never forget."

    Yep I'm one of them. When I think of ECS, I think shit!
    Reply
  • iamkyle - Saturday, January 14, 2012 - link

    They're called 'Extreme Crap Systems' for a reason, you know. Reply
  • piroroadkill - Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - link

    Yeah. PC Chips boards were absolute bottom of the rung, and so were ECS.

    I know about the fake cache chips on the boards too.
    Reply
  • Wesleyrpg - Sunday, January 15, 2012 - link

    i remember this, im fact im sure i switched boards from VLB to PCI, and still ended up with a board with fake cache (on both boards).

    Was around August 1995 if i remember correctly! (i was in uni at the time and didn't have alot of money for an expensive board)

    Maybe i should send ECS an invoice for two motherboards...... :)
    Reply

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