ECS KN1 Extreme NF4 SLI motherboard ReviewMon, Oct 10, 2005 - 12:00 AM
The KN1 Extreme SLI sports the same color scheme as the Ultra version, with the purple PCB topped by orange, yellow, dark purple, blue, and, tan. While not the most aestetically pleasing, the KN1 Extreme SLI definitely has a unique look. Just like the KN1 Extreme Ultra, the SLI features an incredibly clean layout with everything well spaced and clearly marked.
The area around the CPU socket has ample room for any type of cooling solution. Free of capacitors and any other obstructions, the KN1 Extreme should easily support any type of cooling solution you choose.
The rear mounted 40 mm fan draws air over the boards capacitors and mosfets, cooling the important board components, and out the rear of the case. During operation, this fan was silent beneath the noise generated by the systems other fans, and in my opinion, more motherboard companies should jump on this bandwagon as any cooling for these extremely important motherboard components can only help performance and increase the boards life.
The KN1 Extreme SLI supports up to 4GB of 184 pin DDR1 memory in dual channel. Unlike DFI’s Infinity Series, the Extreme SLI requires you to use two or four memory sticks in like colored slots to run dual channel. I wish ECS would have allowed for slots 1 &3 or 2&4 to be used as cooling the memory is really important, and spacing them out more or rotating them 90 degrees would have made a huge difference in cooling.
One aspect of this board I liked very much is the layout of the boards PCI-E slots. Foregoing extra PCI-E x1 slots, ECS instead focused on an uncluttered layout. The PCI-E x16 slots are further apart than every other SLI board I’ve seen, which should help improve the air flow of your graphics cards while running in SLI.
All of the slots are very clearly marked and the PCI slots have the LEDs that blink if the slot is empty or the card installed wrong. Like the Extreme Ultra, the SLI has a single PCI slot that is yellow and marked PCI 2.3. While this is not a new form of PCI slot, it is simply a slot that ECS designated as the optimal slot for sound cards as it has the cleanest signal.
The KN1 Extreme SLI features dual RAID, the NVIDIA chipset provides 4 SATA II ports which support RAID 0, 1, and 5 , in addition to two ATA133 channels which allows connectivity of up to four devices.. The Silicon Image SiI3132 supports two more SATA-II drives and RAID 0, and RAID 1.
I like the fact this board comes with so many connections. I don’t personally use RAID arrays, but I do use 3-4 HDD at a time for testing and backing up data.
Much like the DFI Infinity Series, the ECS KN1 Series features an active cooling solution for the nForce4 chipset. We’ve touched on the fact that most of these active coolers are decent for non overclockers but for the most part are inadequate under a great deal of stress. Another concern, to me at least, is that active cooling solutions are prone to failure after a fairly short period of time. While I think any included cooling solution (active or passive) is fine for a system run at stock speeds, I’d recommend a good aftermarker cooling solution for any type of overclocking.