Overclocking is what separates the great boards from the average to good boards. It is the meaning of life to most of us and we purchase boards based on how far we can push them. While I in no way expected the KN1 Extreme to post numbers anywhere near the DFI NF4 Ultra, I did expect modest overclocking numbers along the lines of what I saw while testing Chaintech’s VNF 4 Ultra awhile back.
Let?s just say I was under whelmed by the overclocking ability of the ECS KN1 Extreme. While a great performer at stock speeds, and even modestly overclocked, the KN1 topped out at 241FSB with the memory set to 200 (1:1) and multiplier at default (X10). So seeing how far I could push the board. I dropped the multiplier to X9 and rebooted at 250…….the board froze on the post screen, so I hit the reset switch, which caused the system to not boot at all. I hit the reset switch again, the system started to boot, then completely shut down. From here I had to manually clear the BIOS to get the system running again.
I figured it was just a bum timing somewhere, so I dropped the memory and multiplier all the way down (100MHz and x4) and rebooted…..same problem. Regardless of what timings or voltages I used, the best overclock I could achieve was 248 FSB, not very “Extreme” in my opinion.
241 FSB is not too bad, but hardly the stuff enthusiast boards are made of. Ironically this is about where our last budget board, the Chaintech VNF4 Ultra topped out, so while I was disappointed in one aspect, it wasn’t totally surprising to me.
Back while discussing the BIOS screens, I made mention of the fact there was no settings for adjusting the PCI/PCI-E Bus on this board, which leads me to believe there are no “Locks” for these buses implemented on the KN1 Extreme. I had this issue with a version 1 ASUS A8V sometime back, but really didn’t expect to see this issue arise again so late in the game.
I have to say that I’m impressed, and hopefully from now on will see ECS Elitegroup products in a new light. While the KN1 Extreme may not live up to its “Extreme” label, I found this board to be incredible easy to work with as well as rock solid at stock speeds. The layout is for the most part excellent and very conducive to a cool running system.
From a price to performance point of view, the sub $100 ECS KN1 Extreme is a great value, every bit as good as the Chaintech VNE4 Ultra ($85) that I’ve recommended to budget builders for the last six months. The KN1 Extreme held its own through all of our benchmarking against the current top dog, the DFI NF4 Ultra, and when you factor in a tremendous bundle and a great price, this board is hard to find fault with.
On the negative side, it was not a great overclocker, but decent enough that any new builder can tinker and get their feet wet in the dark arts without worry. I also had a few issues with the boards layout, mainly the DIMM sockets and IDE and floppy placement. Other than that, the KN1 is a very solid board.
The Legit Bottom Line
The KN1 Extreme brings together the dominance of AMD’s processors and NVIDIA’s nForce 4 chipset in an extremely affordable package. Coupled with a top notch bundle, the KN1 Extreme definitely makes the list of top budget boards.