ECS GANK Machine Z87H3-A2X Extreme Motherboard

ECS Z87H3-A2X Intel Z87 Motherboard Layout

The ECS L337 series of motherboards are the top tier boards from ECS. Today we just happen to have one of them to put through the paces and see how it'll hold up. The ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme motherboard is based on the latest Intel Z87 Express chipset for CPU's in the LGA1150 package, more commonly known as the Haswell series of processors. The GANK Machine Z87H3-A2X is currently available for as little as $239.99. It may not be the lowest cost Intel Z87 motherboard out there, but there are a number of features that are included with the ECS Z87H3-A2X, let't take a peek.

For the $239.99 the ECS GANK Machine Z87H3-A2X Extreme motherboard isn't lacking much in features. As a gaming motherboard the Z87H3-A2X Extreme is going to need a few key features, one of the big ones is going to be connectivity. To connect you to the interweb there are a pair of Realtek 8111G Gigabit Ethernet controllers built into the board to get the job done. If you don't have a wired connection don't worry about it, ECS has us covered with a Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n wireless LAN adapter, more specifically a Qualcomm Atheros AR9271 built onto the board as well. If you're looking for connectivity to devices, we're covered as well. The ECS Z87H3-A2X features eight USB ports on the back panel, four SuperSpeed USB 3.0 and four HiSpeed USB 2.0 along with an internal USB 3.0 header and two internal USB 2.0 headers. This is a total of 14 USB ports throughout the board that can be used for, well just about anything you need to use them for.

The GANK Machine Z87H3-A2X Extreme features a 12 phase power delivery system for the power deliver to the CPU. ECS is using their Extreme Power Module which consist of three different components. The first piece of the puzzle is the Ice Chokes. The ECS Ice Chokes offer one and a half times the stability along with a wider temperature range by 50 degrees. In addition to better stability and temperature range, the Ice Choke run 13% cooler than standard ferrite chokes. The second piece of the Extreme Power Module is the Dual Cooling MOS. The ECS Exclusive Dual Cooling MOSFETs allow for significantly improved heat dissipation and a 90% high efficiency power conversion with low impedance and EMI. The third and final piece of the puzzle is the Gold Caps throughout the ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme motherboard. The Golden Solid Caps have a lifespan six times longer that the traditional electrolytic caps, up to 22 years!

Much of the remaining features of the ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme motherboard aren't nearly as exciting, though they aren't any less important to the performance and value of the ECS GANK Machine Z87H3-A2X Extreme motherboard. As with just about all of the Intel Z87 motherboards out there, the Z87H3-A2X supports 2-Way NVIDIA SLI and 3-Way AMD CrossFireX as well as the Lucid Virtu technology.

ECS Z87H3-A2X Lucid Virtu Technology

The Lucid Virtu software allows you to combine the best features of the Intel HD Graphics with the best features of your discrete graphics card, essentially giving us the best of both worlds.

ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme Specifications
CPU
  • Supports new 4rd gen Intel Core family, Pentium, Celeron series processors in LGA1150 socket
  • DMI 5.0GT/s
  • TDP: 200W
  • 12 Phase Thermal Design Power
  • VRD 12.5
  • 100% Solid capacitor design
  • Supports Intel Turbo Boost 2.0 Technology
  • Supports Intel Hyper-Threading Technology
  • Intel K Series Unlock CPU Support
CHIPSET
  • Intel Z87 Express Chipset
  • Intel Smart Response Technology, Intel Smart Connect Technology & Intel Rapid Start Technology
GRAPHICS
  • Support Intel HD Graphics 4000(Intel 4th gen CPU)
  • Supports DirectX 11 .1
  • Supports Intel HD Graphics, InTru 3D, Quick Sync Video, Clear Video HD Technology, Insider
  • Supports HDMI 1.4a & Premium Audio
  • Supports LucidLogiX Virtu MVP
  • Supports NVIDIA 2-Way SLI Supports ATI 3-Way CrossFireX
  • Supports Full HD 1080P Blu-ray / HD-DVD Playback
MEMORY
  • Dual-channel DDR3 Memory architecture
  • Supports DDR3 1600/1333/1066 non-ECC, Un-buffered SDRAM Memory
  • Supports up to 3000(OC),2933(OC),2800(OC) 4 X 240-pin DDR3 DIMM socket
  • Support up to 32 GB Intel extreme Memory Profile (XMP) 1.3/1.2 Memory Modules
EXPANSION SLOT
  • 3 X PCI Express X16 Gen 3.0 slot(s)
  • 1 X PCI Express X 1 slot(s)
  • Supports NVIDIA SLI Technology
  • Supports ATI CrossfireX Technology
  • 1 X Mini PCI Express X1 slot(s)( Mini SATA supported)
  • 1 X PCI slot(s)
Storage
  • Support by Intel Z87 Express Chipset
  • Support by ASM1061 Controler
  • • 7 X Serial ATAIII 6Gb/s Located in SATA1, SATA2...SATA7 Port
  • • 2 X eSATAIII 6Gb/s
  • • RAID0, RAID1,RAID5, RAID 10 configuration
  • Supports Intel Rapid Storage Technology Supports NCQ, AHCI and "Hot Plug" functions
Audio
  • 8-Channel HD audio CODEC Compliant with HD audio specification
  • Realtek ALC1150+ALC5505 8-channel High Definition audio CODEC
  • BluRay DVD/HD DVD support
LAN
  • Dual Realtek 8111G Gigabit Fast Ethernet Controller
  • Wake-On-LAN Dual LAN with Teaming function
  • Ultra low power consumption
Wireless
  • Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n wireless LAN
Bluetooth
  • Supports Bluetooth V2.0
USB
  • Support by Z87 Express Chipset
  • • 6 X USB3.0 port(s) up to 5Gb/s Back Panel 4 port(s) Onboard 2 port(s)
  • • 8 X USB2.0 port(s) Up to 480 Mb/s Back Panel 4 port(s) Onboard 4 port(s)
  • ECS EZ Charger (Gray USB header)
REAR PANEL I/O
  • 1 X Audio port (Line-in,4x Line-out, SPDIF out)
  • 2 X RJ-45 port with teaming function
  • 1 X HDMI port(s)
  • 1 X Display port
  • 1 X Wireless LAN Dongle
  • 1 X Bluetooth Dongle
  • 2 X eSATA 6Gb/s port(s)
  • 4 X USB3.0 port(s)
  • 4 X USB2.0 port(s)
  • 1 X Clear_CMOS Button
CONNECTORS & HEADERS
  • 1 X 24-pin ATX Power Supply connector
  • 1 X 8-pin ATX 12V Power Connector
  • 1 X 4-pin CPU_FAN connector
  • 1 X 4-pin SYS_FAN connector
  • 1 X 3-pin PWR_FAN connector
  • 1 X Power on button
  • 1 X Reset button
  • 1 X Clear_CMOS button
  • 1 X Front Panel switch/LED header
  • 1 X Front panel audio header
  • 1 X Onboard Buzzer
  • 1 X USB 3.0 header
  • • Support additional
  • 2 USB ports
  • 2 X USB 2.0 header
  • • Support additional
  • 4 USB ports Support EZ charger (gray color)
  • 1 X CLR_CMOS header
  • 1 X Serial port header (COM)
  • 1 X mSATA connector
  • 1 X 7S-LED Display
  • 1 X ME_UNLOCK header
  • 1 X Chassis intrusion header
  • 1 X Voltage measure points
  • 1 X 80P Switch button
  • 1 X Quick OC button
  • 1 X BIOS set button
  • 1 X ROM Backup button
SYSTEM BIOS
  • AMI BIOS with 64x2 MB SPI Flash ROM
  • Supports M.I.B X Utility
  • Supports ACPI 3.0 & DMI
  • F7 hot key for boot up devices option
  • Over-Clocking
  • Graphic OC Support
  • Dual Display Support
  • ECS EZ BIOS
  • Plug and Play, STR (S3) / STD (S4) , Hardware monitor, Multi Boot
  • Multi-Language BIOS
  • Audio, LAN, can be disabled in BIOS
  • Dual BIOS
  • Dual-Monitor function
FORM FACTOR
  • ATX Form Factor
  • 305mm(W) X 244mm(H)
OS Support
  • Windows 7 32-bit
  • Windows 7 64-bit
  • Windows 8 32-bit
  • Windows 8 64-bit
Bundled Software
  • ECS Intelligent EZ Utility : eBLU, eDLU, eOC, eSF
  • Free Bundle: Norton Internet Security ,CyberLink PowerDVD, CyberLink PowerDirector 9, Muzee with trial version
  • Creative Sound Blaster Cinema software

 

ECS GANK Machine Z87H3-A2X Extreme Retail Packaging

ECS Z87H3-A2X Intel Z87 Motherboard Retail Packaging

The ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme motherboard retail packaging, is a little busy for my taste, but I've certainly seen worse. I'll be the first to admin that overall look of the retail packaging doesn't effect my purchasing decision in the long run, as long as I can find the information I'm looking for on it. What it does do though, for those looking at a retail location, it will draw attention and ultimately cause someone to pick it up. Along the bottom edge of the front of the packaging has several of the logo's for the technologies that have gone into the ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme motherboard.

ECS Z87H3-A2X Intel Z87 Motherboard Retail Packaging

The front cover of the ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme opens up to reveal a detailed layout on one side.

ECS Z87H3-A2X Intel Z87 Motherboard Retail Packaging

The other side of the inside front cover on the ECS Z87H3-A2X goes into some of the details about the motherboard and sub components like the capacitors, chokes and LGA1150 Socket.

ECS Z87H3-A2X Intel Z87 Motherboard Retail Packaging

The back of the retail packaging breaks down the details about the 'Extreme Gaming Technologies' that are included with the ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme motherboard. ECS highlights several of the features here including the 2-way SLI/3-way CrossfireX, Dual Gibabit LAN, 8-Channel HD audio, and several others that we will detail further down.

ECS Z87H3-A2X Intel Z87 Motherboard Retail Packaging

Admittedly this is the most exciting picture ever taken, but it's nice to see that the ECS Z87H3-A2X is securely packaged within the cardboard shell and protected with an anti-static bag to shield the ESD.

ECS Z87H3-A2X Intel Z87 Motherboard Retail Packaging

The bundle that comes with the ECS Z87H3-A2X is kept separate from the motherboard below the box for the board. Here we can see the more important facets of the retail bundle. The bundle includes SLI Bridges, Wireless Antenna, SATA cables, I/O panel shield, manuals, and the driver disk. It's a pretty typical bundle by today's standards, it may not be real exciting, but it will get the job done.

ECS GANK Machine Z87H3-A2X Motherboard Layout

ECS Z87H3-A2X Intel Z87 Motherboard Layout

The ECS Z87H3-A2x is a pretty sharp looking motherboard. The red heatsinks on the black PCB look good, it's enough to add some color, but now overpower the board. I'm not a fan of the gold solid capacitors though, in my eyes they don't flow with the black and red well. As long as the ECS Z87H3-A2X gets the job done the color combination doesn't matter to me.

ECS Z87H3-A2X Intel Z87 Motherboard Layout

The ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme features four DIMM slots that support up to 32GB of DDR3 DRAM and frequencies as high as 3000MHz (OC). In front of the DIMM slots we have the 24pin motherboard power plug. Surrounding the 24pin plug we can see a handful of the Golden solid capacitors. The Golden solid caps offer a life span of 200K hours, six times the life span of standard electrolytic caps.

ECS Z87H3-A2X Intel Z87 Motherboard Layout

 Spinning the ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme around, there are a number of noteworthy features here. Among the first is the seven SATA III Ports. Five of the SATA III ports are native to the SATA III controller on the Intel Z87 chipset (there are six native ports, more on that later though.), while the remaining two (EXSATA_5/6) are from the ASMedia ASM1061 SATA III 6Gbps controller. To the left of the SATA ports is a triple digit LED display that displays the P.O.S.T. codes as the system boots. Just above the LED display, is the mini PCIe/mSATA 6Gbps port. To the right of the mSATA/mPCIe slot are the EZ buttons. Instead of the usual Power and Reset buttons, ECS has also placed a EZ Dual BIOS, EZ Click OC, EZ Enter BIOS, EZ Measure (seen to the right of the SATA ports), EZ Clear CMOS (back panel), and of course the EZ Power/reset buttons. It may be a lot of buttons, but they can certainly come in handy down the road.

ECS Z87H3-A2X Intel Z87 Motherboard Layout

The three PCIe x16 slots are all PCIe gen 3.0 and will support 2-way NVIDIA SLI and 3-way AMD CrossfireX. Between the first pair of PCIe x16 slots we can find a PCIe x1 slot and a legacy PCI slot all the way on the right. In front of the expansion slots we can find several of the chips that make up the sub systems of the ECS Z87H3-A2X. Among them is the Realtek ALC1150, Realtek ALC5505, and the pair of Realtek 8111G Gigabit ethernet controllers.

ECS Z87H3-A2X Intel Z87 Motherboard Layout

The I/O panel of the ECS Z87H3-A2X is pretty comprehensive and includes eight USB ports, four SuperSpeed USB 3.0 and four HiSpeed USB 2.0. In addition to the USB ports we have the BlueTooth, and wireless antenna's, dual Gigabit Ethernet, five 3.5mm audio jacks, optical SPDIF out, EZ Clear CMOS button, HDMI 1.4a, and DisplayPort

ECS Z87H3-A2X Intel Z87 Motherboard Layout

The heatsink assembly over the PWM circuitry includes a small fan to keep the air circulating over it. I was a little worried that we would be able to hear a high pitched whine from such a small fan, small fans are pretty notorious for that, but I was happy to say I didn't hear a whine (or complaining) from it the entire time it was running.

The Legit Reviews Test System

Before we look at the numbers, let's take a brief look at the test system that was used. All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows 8 Enterprise 64-bit and benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. We completely overhauled our test setup for the Intel Core i7-4770K processor launch, so we are starting over from scratch when it comes to testing everything. For this review will be comparing Intel Z77, Intel Z87 and AMD FM2 platforms. These platforms are aimed at mainstream users and all feature integrated graphics, so it will be interesting to see how the systems compare. We understand that there is a significant price difference between some of the processors we will be testing, but the platforms are targeted to the same consumer group.

ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme Test System

Here is a quick look at the CPU-Z information for our main test system that we'll be doing the testing on.

ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme System Settings

The Intel Z87 platform that we used to test the Intel 1150 processors was running the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force was running the latest BIOS version F6f that came out on 6/20/2013. The Corsair Dominator Platnium 8GB 2133MHz memory kit was set to XMP 1.3 memory profile settings, which is 1.5v and 9-11-10-27 2T memory timings. The Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB SSD uses 19nm NAND and was using M310 firmware.

z87-pro-system-settings-2

The Intel HD Graphics 4600 that from the Intel Core i7-4770K

 

Intel LGA1150 Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

Intel Core i7-4770K

Motherboard

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Click Here

Memory

8GB Donimator 2133MHz Click Here

Video Card

ASUS GeForce GTX670 DirectCU II Click Here

Hard Drive

Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB SSD

Click Here

Cooling

Corsair H100i

Click Here

Keyboard

Corsair K90

Click Here

Mouse

Corsair M95

Click Here

Power Supply

Corsair AX860i

Click Here

Operating System

Windows 8 64-Bit

Click Here

Futuremark 3DMark 2013

3Dmark Fire Strike Benchmark Results - For high performance gaming PCs

Use Fire Strike to test the performance of dedicated gaming PCs, or use the Fire Strike Extreme preset for high-end systems with multiple GPUs. Fire Strike uses a multi-threaded DirectX 11 engine to test DirectX 11 hardware.

3DMark Fire Strike

ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme 3DMark Firestrike Results

3DMark FireStrike Benchamark Results

Benchmark Results: The ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme motherboard hit an overall score of 5983 which is just a hair below the performance of the ASUS Z87-Pro motherboard, 3.5% on the overall score. The physics score of the ECS motherboard was faster, but we lost a little ground on the graphics test.

SiSoftware Sandra 2013 SP1a

Sisoftware Sandra 2011 SP5

The Sisoftware Sandra 2012 SP3 benchmark utility just came out a few weeks ago and we have started to include it in our benchmarking. Sandra 2012 comes with support for Virtualisation (Virtual PC/Server, Hyper-V, VMware) and GPGPU (OpenCL, DirectX 11 DirectCompute), but today we will be using the program to look at memory and CPU performance!

Sandra Memory Benchamark Results

Benchmark Results: The ECS Z87H3-A2X was able to take the top spot in the SiSoftware Sandra 2013 Memory bandwidth benchmark. The float memory bandwidth of the ECS Z87H3-A2X was 28.19GB/s and the Integer memory bandwidt was 28.06GB/s. Both of these scres are faster than the ASUS Z87-Pro. These aren't differences that will be noticed in day to day usage, but it's nice to see ECS stepping up and competing with companies like ASUS for the top spot in performance.

Metro Last Light

Metro: Last Light is a first-person shooter video game developed by Ukrainian studio 4A Games and published by Deep Silver. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world and features action-oriented gameplay with a combination of survival horror elements. It uses the 4A Game engine and was released in May 2013.

Metro: Last Light

Metro Last Light was benchmarked with Ultra settings

Metro Last Light - ASUS NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670 DirectCU II

Metro Last Light Benchamark Results

Benchmark Results: The ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme is right on track with our other Intel Z87 motherboards in Metro Last Light. There's less than 1 frame per second separating the Z87 boards and the ECS was right in the middle at 1280x1024 with an average of 62.91 frames per second. At 1920x1080 the ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme was only .19 frames per second below the ASUS Z87-Pro.

Hitman: Absolution

Hitman: Absolution is an action-adventure stealth DirecX 11 video game developed by IO Interactive and published by Square Enix. It is the fifth entry in the Hitman game series, and runs on IO Interactive's proprietary Glacier 2 game engine. This game title uses the Glacier 2 game engine and was released on November 20th, 2012.

hitmanabsolution_550.

We benchmarked Hitman: Absolution with Ultra Settings.

Hitman Absolution - ASUS GeForce GTX 670 DirectCU II

Hitman Absolution Benchamark Results

Benchmark Results: Our ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme motherboard was able to average 43.8 frames per second at 1280x1024, .43 frames per second ahead of the ASUS Z87-Pro. Increasing the resolution to 1920x1080 the ECS Z87H3-A2X average of 31.03 frames per second fell behind the ASUS Z87-Pro which averaged 31.37 frames per second.

Cinebench R11.5

MAXON; CINEBENCH R11.5:

MAXON recently released CINEBENCH Release 11.5, an advanced hardware testing suite that assesses a computer's performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on the same powerful technology as MAXON's award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. The new version of CINEBENCH includes the ability to more accurately test the industry’s latest hardware, including systems with up to 64 processor threads, and the testing environment better reflects the expectations of today’s production demands. A more streamlined interface makes testing systems and reading results incredibly straightforward. Again, higher Frames/Second and point score equal better performance.

Cinebench R11.5

Cinebench R11.5 was able to put a 100% load across all the cores on all of the processors, which makes this a great benchmark to look at multi-core platforms.

Cinebench Benchamark Results

Benchmark Results: The ECS Z87H3-A2X was able to score 8.17 points in the Cinebench 'All Cores' benchmark. It was able to out gun the ASUS Z87-Pro when running all cores. .

X264 HD Video Encoding Benchmark

x264 HD Encoding Benchmark

Simply put, the x264 HD Benchmark is a reproducible measure of how fast your machine can encode a short HD-quality video clip into a high quality x264 video file. It's nice because everyone running it will use the same video clip and software. The video encoder (x264.exe) reports a fairly accurate internal benchmark (in frames per second) for each pass of the video encode and it also uses multi-core processors very efficiently. All these factors make this an ideal benchmark to compare different processors and systems to each other. We are using x264 HD v5.0.1 for this test.

x264 HD Encoding Benchmark

This application did fairly well when run on 12 threads, as you can see from the screen shot above. The first pass was not using all of the processing power available on the cores, but on the second pass all 12 threads were at ~95% load.

x264 HD Video Encoding Benchamark Results

 

Benchmark Results: The ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme was able to topple the ASUS Z87-Pro in both passes of the x264 HD Video Encoding benchmark. The first pass averaged 81.6 frames per second, 1.5 frames per second faster than the ASUS Z87-Pro. The second pass was much closer, but it's also much more processor intensive. The ECS motherboard averaged 16.5 frames per second, while the ASUS Z87-Pro averaged 16.44 frames per second.

Rightmark Audio Analyzer Performance

 

RightMark Audio Analyzer

 

The RightMark Audio Analyzer suite is designed for testing quality of analog and digital paths of any audio devices, be it a sound card, an MP3 player, a consumer CD/DVD player or an acoustic set. The results are obtained by playing and recording test signals passed through the tested audio path by means of frequency analysis algorithms. The latest version of RightMark Audio Analyzer can be found here.

 

RightMark Audio Analyzer Results

 

Rightmark Audio Analyzer Comparison Chart

ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme Audio Performance

The ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme may have had the same general performance score as the ASUS Z87-Pro, but many of the sub scores were rated better, and some not as high. Overall the the audio performance of the ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme was great while I spent some time gaming on it. This isn't real surprising since they are both using the latest RealTek ALC1150 High Definition audio codec.

Intel Z87 SATA III 6Gbps Performance Testing

CrystalDiskMark is a small benchmark utility for drives and enables rapid measurement of sequential and random read/write speeds. Note that CDM only supports Native Command Queuing (NCQ) with a queue depth of 32 (as noted) for the last listed benchmark score. This can skew some results in favor of controllers that also do not support NCQ.

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Hero Motherboard SATA III Performance
ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme SATA III Performance

The SATA III 6Gbps performance testing was completed using a Corsair Force GT 240Gb SATA III 6Gbps SSD.

Benchmark Results: The ECS Z87H3-A2X brought it's A game in the SATA III Performance testing. The ECS motherboard averaged 529.1MB/s sequential read and 440.0MB/s sequential write. This is more than 6.6% faster than the ASUS Z87-Pro in the read test and 1.5% faster write. The 4k Write was impressive at 126.7MB/s, 22% faster than the ASUS counterpart.

HD Tune Pro 4.01 is an extended version of HD Tune which includes many new features such as write benchmark, secure erasing, AAM setting, folder usage view, disk monitor, command line parameters and file benchmark.

Intel Z87 HD Tune Pro 5.50 Write Benchmark Results

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Hero Motherboard SATA III Performance

Intel Z87 HD Tune Pro 5.50 Read Benchmark Results

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Hero Motherboard SATA III Performance

 ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme SATA III Performance

 Benchmark Results: The ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme continued to dominate in HD Tune with an average read of 439.9MB/s compared to the average read of the ASUS Z87-Pro read of 356.5MB/s!

Intel Z87 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Performance Testing

Thermaltake BlackX 5G SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Dock

There are a number of different Super Speed USB 3.0 host controllers out there. In order to know which ones perform the best we run a series of tests that will put the controller through the ringer and see how it comes out on the other side. Each of our motherboards uses a different Super Speed USB 3.0 controller and you can find the below.

CrystalDiskMark is a small benchmark utility for drives and enables rapid measurement of sequential and random read/write speeds. Note that CDM only supports Native Command Queuing (NCQ) with a queue depth of 32 (as noted) for the last listed benchmark score. This can skew some results in favor of controllers that also do not support NCQ.

MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming Series Motherboard SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Performance

Testing of the USB3 was done using the "Thermaltake BlacX 5G Hard Drive Docking Station . The drive used was an Corsair Force GT 240Gb SSD.

ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme USB 3.0 Performance

Benchmark Results: The ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme SuperSpeed USB 3.0 performance wasn't as dominating as the SATA III performance, but it wasn't far off from the ASUS Z87-Pro. The Z87H3-A2X Extreme had a sequential read of 409.1MB/s, not quite up to the ASUS Z87-Pro speed of 421.2MB/s, but still solid. The ECS Z87H3-A2X sequential write was a little further back with a performance of 345.3MB/s compared to the ASUS performance of 373.6MB/s.

HD Tune Pro 5.00 is an extended version of HD Tune which includes many new features such as write benchmark, secure erasing, AAM setting, folder usage view, disk monitor, command line parameters and file benchmark.

Intel Z77 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 HD Tune 5.50 Read Benchmark Results

MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming Series Motherboard SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Performance

Intel Z77 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 HD Tune 5.50 Write Benchmark Results

MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming Series Motherboard SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Performance

Testing of the USB3 was done using the "Thermaltake BlacX 5G Hard Drive Docking Station . The drive used was an Corsair Force GT 240Gb SSD.

ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme USB 3.0 Performance

Benchmark Results: HD Tune looks like a wash between the ECS Z87H3-A2X and the ASUS Z87-Pro. There is no discernible difference between their performances.

Power Consumption

CPU Power Consumption

Since power consumption is a big deal these days, we ran some simple power consumption tests on our test beds. The systems ran with the power supplies, case fans, video cards and hard drives. To measure idle usage, we ran the system at idle for one hour on the desktop with no screen saver and took the measurement. For load measurements, Prime95's in-place large FFT's were run on all cores to make sure each and every processor was at 100% load for maximum power consumption and heat. Curious about real world scenarios, we decided to drop Furmark and ran 3DMark 11 on the performance preset and took the maximum power consumption during the first GPU test.

ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme Power Consumption

Benchmark Results: The power consumption of the ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme was a bit higher than the ASUS Z87-Pro. Most of the difference was at at idle where the ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme was pulling 75 Watts at the wall while the ASUS board was pulling 60 Watts. Loading the CPU up with Prime95 the ECS board was pulling 167 Watts while the ASUS was pulling 155. Futuremark Firestrike showed the least difference of our tests as there was only 8 Watts separating the two boards, still the ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme was still pulling more than the ASUS board.

Overclocking

Overclocking greatly varies due to what hardware is being used and who is doing the overclocking. Always remember that no two pieces of hardware will perform the same, so our results will differ from what you might be able to get.

ECS Z87H3-A2X CPUz Overclocking

 

The Intel Core i7 4770K runs at a non-turbo speed of 3.5GHz and turbo will ramp the processor up to as high as 3.9GHz under a lightly threaded load, or under a full load 3.7GHz as we can see above. Since we are using a K series processor which has an unlocked multiplier we will be able to increase the default x35 multiplier to achieve our overclock today. This is the easiest way to overclock K series processors and should provide us with some great speeds.

ECS Z87H3-A2X CPUz Overclocking

We went a little different route with our overclocking today. Instead of working in the ECS BIOS, we decided to work within Windows and use the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility. After a little bit of time we were easily at 4.7GHz. We increased the turbo multipliers to x47 and the CPU vCore to 1.29 and everything was rock solid

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Overclocking

This isn't our first rodeo with our Intel Core i7 4770K  Haswell processor and we know it's more than capable of hitting 4.8GHz without much on an issue. We were able to get into the operating system without an issue, but no matter what we tried we couldn't find any system stability. Anytime we put a load on the 4770K the system would crash on us.

Intel Extreme Tuning Utility XTU

 

We didn't have to change many settings within the Intel XTU software to hit our 4.7GHz overclock. You can see the changes in yellow above, which include the vCore to 1.29, and the CPU Turbo multipliers to x47. Once we hit apply we were rocking out at 4.7GHz without the need to reboot.

 

ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme Overclocking Resultsssssss

Increasing the Intel Core i7 4770K to 4.7GHz we were able to bring our Cinebench score up from 8.17 points to 10.15 points a gain of 24%! Overall certainly not a bad day at the office!

Final Thoughts and Conclusion

ECS Z87H3-A2X Intel Z87 Motherboard Layout

Overall I was happy with the performance and user experience with the ECS Gank Machine Z87H3-A2X Extreme motherboard. Right now you can pick up the ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme for as little as $239.99 which certainly isn't the highest cost motherboard to come across the Legit Reviews bench, nor is it the lowest cost. Overall I didn't have any issues with the ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme Z87 motherboard at the settings we used for testing today. It wasn't until I started working on the overclocking that it got a little tricky.

I mention the overclocking because, it wasn't really working for me through the BIOS all that well. That doesn't mean that we weren't able to get a solid overclock with the ECS Z87H3-A2X, it just meant that we had to work through the Windows 8 operating system. Fortunately the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility is a great option for that. We were able to hit 4.7GHz without breaking a sweat using the Intel XTU and the ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme motherboard.

ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme BIOS

The only options for setting the CPU vCore was override and adaptive voltage modes and unfortunately I wasn't able to get the system stable working with either of those settings. Fortunately as I mentioned the Intel XTU software is a great alternative to working in the BIOS, and it worked out very will for us.

ECS eOC Software

This really did catch me off guard! I mentioned that we had used the Intel XTU software to overclock the Intel Core i7-4770K, we did try to use the ECS eOC software first. Sadly though, we couldn't use the eOC software. It doesn't have any adjustment for the CPU multiplier, which is pretty much the ONLY way to overclock a processor with an unlocked multiplier like the 4770K! If it wasn't for the Intel XTU software, we would have been up the proverbial creek without a paddle.

We clearly had some issues while overclocking, but overclocking can always be a journey My only real issue with the ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme is the BIOS. While they get the job done, they feel very rough compared to many of the others out there. After using motherboards from ASUS, GIGABYTE, MSI (to a lesser extent) I have become accustomed to a very refined BIOS. The ECS BIOS doesn't have the intuitive feel to it that the top tier motherboard companies have put out there.

The issues that I had really only popped their head up during my time spent while overclocking the ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme motherboard. The initial setup went flawlessly, setting the memory profile to XMP was simple to do in the M.I.B. X (Motherboard Intelligent BIOS X) tab of the UEFI BIOS under the Memory Configuration. If you're not looking to overclock, or at least not through the UEFI BIOS you'll have a great experience with the ECS Z87H3-A2X. The performance of the ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme motherboard was right on par with what we have come to expect from the latest Intel system, there isn't a whole lot of change in that respect between the boards.

Right now you can pick up your own ECS GANK Machine Z87H3-A2X Extreme motherboard for only $239.99. If something should happen to go wrong with the ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme down the road, you're covered. The ECS Z87H3-A2X is backed by a three year warranty for parts and 2 year for parts and labor, it's always good to have a little peace of mind when investing in some new hardware.

Legit Bottom Line: The ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme motherboard is a solid motherboard and it worked great for us. With a few adjustments and tweaks to the UEFI BIOS as well as the ECS software, the Z87H3-A2X Extreme has the potential be a great board.