SLI, Crossfire, and S.D.G.E.

ECS used Editor's Day to highlight all of their new "dual-graphics" motherboards - both AMD and Intel - for NVIDIA SLI and ATI Crossfire.

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Some manufacturers are producing just one or two flavors of these dual-video configurations, but ECS announced that they will be supporting all four possible configurations.

In addition, ECS presented one of the most innovative products that we have seen in a while in their Scalable Dual Graphics Engines (S.D.G.E.).

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This is basically technology that allows any video card to operate in "SLI-like" or "Crossfire-like" modes on either AMD or Intel platforms.

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The basic idea of ECS S.D.G.E. is that you can start with a low-cost ($65 to $70) dual x16 PCIe motherboard for either an AMD or Intel processor. At some later point, when you can afford it, you can add an S.D.G.E. card for $30 to $35.

With the long SDGE card added, your motherboard can now support a second video card in SLI/Crossfire type mode.

The ECS solution starts with one x16 PCIe and adds a second x16 PCIe slot with the S.D.G.E. card. You end up with 2 x16 slots instead of 2 x8 as you do in basic SLI and Crossfire.

The idea of ECS S.D.G.E. is affordable dual-graphics for everyone - which will always be a good idea. There are limitations, however, in that NVIDIA and ATI must support the ECS solution with driver support. ECS says that they are working with both companies on driver support. They also speculate driver support may be more forthcoming once Crossfire is on the market and presents real competition to NVIDIA SLI.

We have our reservations about where the ECS solution might fit in the marketplace. This is especially true since NVIDIA and ATI are now talking of a future with mainstream pricing of SLI/Crossfire. However, we have to give ECS its due in presenting a unique and innovative approach to bringing dual graphics to all end-users at a low price.

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  • Sengir - Tuesday, September 27, 2005 - link

    I'm surprised Anandtech would state that ECS motherboards were stable.
    I worked at Fry's Electronics for over a year in their Service Dept., and the Fry's PC is built by ECS. 90% of all Fry's PCs brought back had a defective motherboard.
    Great Quality is another ECS name.. They are just as bad, if not worse. Most salesman cringe at having to sell them, but they are required to. Seems their return rate is that high.

    Even before I worked there a friend of mine had one that didn't work properly when he bought it.

    Oh, and I remember reading that ECS makes motherboards for MSI & Asus. <<Reason I don't buy from MSI or Asus.
  • AtaStrumf - Tuesday, September 6, 2005 - link

    My only ECS board was K7S5A and it worked OK, but definately not 100% stable, but hey the same goes for many of my ABIT, Iwill, Epox and MSI boards. MOBOs just generaly suck. It seems to me, that you need to get lucky to get a good one. My current DFI NF3 250 GB LANPARTY is a wonder. It works 110% stable. MUUWA! But again some had horrible problems with it. And one last piece of advice: never buy a rev. 1.00 MOBO!!!
  • Pirks - Sunday, September 4, 2005 - link

    Just a general observation about ECS, ASRock and other slotted "combo" or "upgrade" mobos out there: they all lack the ability to utilize previously installed onboard RAM as soon as you pop a slot upgrade card in there. You either have a couple of DIMMs on the mobo OR a couple of DIMMs on the slot card, but NOT the both. Sooo... if I ever need some serious RAM in my PC, I'll never buy any of these. They are OK for ppl on a budget who never have more than 512M or 1GB of memory, but no power user will buy them I think, unless this is a kind of user who knows that "2 DIMM slots is enough forever". And since you can get 2GB RAM quite cheaper if you buy it in four 512M sticks, then you'll pay more for the memory if you buy that "cheap" mobo with two DIMM slots only. Save here, lose there.
  • dali71 - Sunday, September 4, 2005 - link

    Let us never forget the checkered past of PC Chips.">Scumbags
  • beorntheold - Friday, September 2, 2005 - link

    my first ECS experience - new K7S5A... once a week the BIOS would reset itself to default (weak battery? not that it matters)... the core voltage was 0.02 off... underclocked per default... virtually no control over voltages or even fsb. a ton of options in the BIOS settings that don't seem to be documented anywhere on the Internet.

    my second ECS experience - a brand new N2U400A - with an absolutely stable PSU the core voltage would drop below 1.635 V under load (the PC becomes unstable - crashes, errors, the full program)... all other voltages are also unstable... the mobo does not provide enough voltage for 2 x 512 mb (2.5V) RAM - one of the banks, that is (test with MemTest - first bank works ok, the module in the second bank fails, swap modules - same story). there is no control over core or ram voltage - I had to perform a pin mod to force the mobo to raise the voltage to the CPU and will have to buy another board to use my new RAM. no way to measure chipset temperature, no way to measure vram voltage. attempts to overclock a 2600+ T-bred with DDR400 RAM fail at 136 Mhz FSB... that's 2 Mhz gain...). and let's not forget the BIOS chip soldered to the PCB. if I wasn't forced by the circumstances to continue using it I would have thrown the board out at least twice by now. although using a hammer will express my feelings more appropriately... and rest assured - I'm not the only one feeling this way.

    I knew I was buying a value board, but there is a certain minimum of quality that just needs to be there for stable operation. what I got for my money in these cases was an insult.

    in other words - I would rather shoot myself than buy anything with the brand ECS on it ever again.

    no editors day, no money invested in propaganda will ever change that.
  • swatX - Friday, September 2, 2005 - link

    my first ECS motherboard RS480-M. Crashes every 5 minutes. Couldnt figure anything until i pulled the Audigy 2 sound card. Seems like ECS board doesnt like a sound card. Also their bios doesnt work with XP-64. The temps are extremely high even though i had a good case cooling.

    never getting anything from ecs again .
  • Kalessian - Friday, September 2, 2005 - link

    "ECS used Editor's Day to highlight all of their new "dual-graphics" motherboards - both AMD and Intel - for NVIDIA SLI and AMD Crossfire."

    Shouldn't it be ATi Crossfire?

  • Wesley Fink - Friday, September 2, 2005 - link

  • Bona Fide - Friday, September 2, 2005 - link

    That SDGE concept is looking great. Can't wait to see what comes of it. :)
  • smn198 - Friday, September 2, 2005 - link

    I think it would be much more interesting (to the enthusiast) is mobo makers would start doing things similar to what was done with the BX chipset. High FSB overclocking, dual slots, etc">Dual slot 1 Intel BX 1 mobo linkage

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