The ECS A780GM-A motherboard is a full size ATX motherboard as you can tell from the picture above. This motherboard is part of the new ‘black series’ by ECS so it features a nice looking black PCB instead of the normal colors. ECS says the board supports up to 32GB of DDR2-1066 memory across four slots, but they also point out that the board has only been tested with 8GB since memory density isn’t high enough to do more. When it comes to power, the board features a four phase power system and uses a 24-pin ATX power supply header and an additional 4-pin ATX power connector. The layout overall is very clean with all the connectors located on the sides of the board.
The back of the ECS A780GM shows the large heat sink retention bracket that is used to safely secure the heat sink to the board.
The ECS A780GM-A motherboard has one full size x16 PCIe 2.0 slot for video cards and two x1 PCIe slots for RAID controllers or audio cards. The board also features three PCI slots that are available for those wishing to use legacy cards. Just to the left of the three PCI slots is the IDT 92HD206 audio chip that is a Theater Quality 8-channel audio CODEC that enables systems with 7.1 audio or 5.1 audio playing simultaneously with VoIP or another stereo audio stream. IDT’s proprietary SD technology provides high fidelity, with a DAC SNR of 95dB. The onboard Gigabit Ethernet 10/100/1000 Mbps is based on the PCIE controller Atheros Attansic L1 that is to the left of the two PCIe x1 slots. By using IDT and Atheros solutions for the audio and LAN capabilities, ECS has managed to cut costs, but will it impact performance?
The southbridge chipset (SB700) is passive cooled just like the northbridge. The board has five internal SATA headers and one external SATA connector. The rear I/O panel has six USB 2.0 headers and the motherboard offers six more internal USB 2.0 ports via the orange USB headers on the motherboard. This means the chipset can support 12 USB 2.0 ports (the most the chipset offers). The front panel (case) connectors are located to the left of the SATA II headers and are not labeled or color coded, so using the manual is a must. The AMIBIOS BIOS chip is soldered to the board, so if a flash goes bad you can’t just change the chip out.
With the passive chipset cooler removed, we can get an idea of what the 780G chipset looks like and how big it is. The passive cooler gets the job done, but those that plan on overclocking should look for improved active cooling solutions as things to get very hot since the Radeon Xpress 3200 IGP is inside this chipset.
The ECS A780GM-A motherboard lacks a dual-link DVI output, but does offer standard VGA and HDMI outputs. Other connectors on the rear I/O panel are the pair of PS2 ports, six USB 2.0 ports, eSATA, Gigabit Ethernet, and analog 7.1-channel audio outputs.