ECS X79R-AX Black Series Motherboard Review


Final Thoughts and Conclusion

ECS X79R-AX Black Extreme Intel X79 Motherboard Layout and Features

For the most part the ECS X79R-AX Intel X79 motherboard performed on par with our other Intel X79 systems. In most of our tests it was just below the performance level of the GIGABYTE GA-X79-UD7. In all fairness though, we are talking very small margins of maybe 1%-2% total, well within any margin of error in the benchmarks that we used today. The downside to that statement is that it was consistently on the bottom of the charts.

One area of performance that the ECS X79R-AX was quite disappointing in was the SuperSpeed USB 3.0 performance testing. In both CrystalDiskMark and HD Tune 4.61 the sequential read speeds were below what we have seen on previous Intel X79 system boards. The CDM sequential read of the ECS X79R-AX was limited to 193.9MB/s while the next best performing board was able to hit 209.5MB/s. HD Tune 4.61 was slightly closer with 199.5MB/s average read compared to 202.3MB/s average read on the GIGABYTE GA-X79-UD7. Where performance really took a hit was the average write speeds. The sequential write with the ECS X79R-AX was only 133.5MB/s! The GIGABYTE GA-X79-UD7 was able to throw up 202.5MB/s sequential write. That is a difference of 69MB/s or 34.1% of the X79-UD7 performance. If we were to compare it to the performance of the ASUS Rampage IV Extreme which is the top performing board, the ECS X79R-AX was 105.2MB/s behind in performance. The ECS X79R-AX uses a Texas Instruments TUSB7340 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Controller. The Texas Instruments TUSB7340 USB 3.0 controller doesn’t seem to have the same level of performance as the ASMedia ASM1042 USB 3.0 controller that the ASUS Rampage IV Extreme uses.

ECS X79R-AX Black Extreme Intel X79 CrystalDiskMark Benchmark Comparison

One feature that we noticed when we first got our hands on the ECS X79R-AX Intel X79 motherboard was the immense number of SATA ports. All in all there is a total of 12 SATA ports on the ECS X79R-AX. Eight of which are SATA III 6Gbps, two from the Intel X79 chipset, two from an ASMedia ASM1061 SATA III controller, and four from the Intel X79 chipset SAS controller. Last week we took a look at the four SAS ports on the ECS X79R-AX, the performance on them wasn’t quite as fast as the pair of native SATA III 6Gbps ports, though it wasn’t to shabby. If you would like the full scoop on enabling the SAS ports on the ECS X79R-AX you can find that here.

The ECS X79R-AX wasn’t without issues during our testing. The first issue that we came across was gaining access to the BIOS. Somewhere around 75% of the time, the ECS X79R-AX wouldn’t recognize my keyboard until it was to late. We have tried multiple keyboards, both USB and PS/2, and the issue persisted with either port. ECS is aware of our troubles and is looking into the issue. The other issue we ran into was the voltage settings when trying to overclock the ECS X79R-AX that we mentioned on the overclocking page. Each time that we would reboot after adjusting the CPU VCore, the voltage adjustment would revert back to automatic instead of manual where we set it. It made overclocking quite difficult through the BIOS. If I were to take a guess, both of these issues can be remedied with a BIOS update.

The ECS X79R-AX is currently carrying a street price of only $239.99 after MIR. It isn’t a very high price considering the features that the ECS X79R-AX Intel X79 motherboard brings to the table. The ECS X79R-AX carries a 36 month warranty for parts and only 24 months on labor from the purchase date. Just be sure to hang on to your receipt so in the event of a failure you’re covered.

At the end of the day the ECS X79R-AX is what I could consider a decent Intel X79 motherboard for the average consumer. The performance of this board with the Intel Core i7-3960K processor at stock settings on on par with boards that cost hundreds more. That said, if you are looking for a great overclocking platform or one with great SuperSpeed USB 3.0 performance this isn’t it. ECS continues to be held back by an inferior BIOS and poor component choices on their high end Black Series boards and that is too bad.

Legit Bottom Line: The ECS X79R-AX wasn’t quite the joy to work with that I had hoped. Hopefully ECS can sort out the issues that we ran into in the near future and make the ECS X79R-AX the board it was meant to be.

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