The ECS KA3 MVP is the first CrossFire Xpress 3200 AM2 motherboard to hit the market. It's based on the same RD580 northbridge that we saw on socket 939 variants of CrossFire Xpress 3200, but comes with the all-new and improved SB600 southbridge. The KA3 comes with an attractive price and a good feature set that should suit a wide range of end users. We run it through our battery of tests to find out if it is worth shouting about.
- Support for all Socket AM2 AMD Athlon 64/FX/X2 and Sempron processors with Cool 'n' Quiet technology;
- Four DDR2 memory slots supporting up to 32GB of DDR2-800;
- ATI RD580 northbridge and SB600 southbridge;
- AGERE Gigabit Ethernet and Realtek 10/100 Ethernet;
- Two full-bandwidth PCI-Express x16 slots with CrossFire support, one PCI-Express x1 slot and two PCI expansion slots;
- 7.1 channel Realtek ALC883 High Definition audio with jack sensing and optical & digital RCA S/PDIF Out;
- Six SATA 3Gbps ports controlled by ATI SB600 RAID controller, supporting RAID 0, 1, 0+1, and JBOD;
- JMB363 SATA controller provided including RAID 0 & 1.
- Support for ten USB 2.0 ports (four on back I/O panel and six via on-board pins/expansion brackets);
- Two IEEE1394a Firewire ports with internal headers;
- Two ATA133 connectors;
- One floppy connector.
- User Guide;
- Installation CDs;
- Four orange SATA cables;
- Single eSATA cable on PCI bracket;
- One 6-pin Firewire and two USB 2.0 ports on PCI bracket and adapter for 3.5" bay;
- Ethernet cable;
- Top Hat Flash;
- Parallel port PCI bracket;
- Metal I/O plate.
The contents aren't comprehensive, but it's not a bad effort from ECS. You get only two SATA power cables and four SATA cables to share over six SATA ports. However, there are a couple of unique additions like an Ethernet cable and a parallel port PCI bracket - should you need either - and a 3.5" bay adapter for the Firewire/USB PCI bracket to bring the ports to the front of your case. This is a useful device, providing the brackets can reach the front of your case.
Of course, considering it's a CrossFire motherboard the chances are that you'll have a reasonably modern PSU with SATA power connectors built in. The Top Hat flash is ECS' fail safe flash device that allows you a bit of extra security when flashing the motherboard BIOS. It's a backup BIOS chip that fits on top of the existing one and it allows you to boot safely from backup.
Overall, ECS provide enough to get you going without putting unneeded expense on the consumer. The bundle fits the price range well without going overboard - ECS has chosen not to include a lot of additional extras that are unlikely to ever be used.