ECS A785GM-M Black Series Review

December 24, 2009 // 12:25 p.m.

Tags: #benchmark #bios #motherboard #oc #overclocking #perform #performance #result #review

ECS A785GM-M Black Series

Manufacturer: ECS
UK Price (as Reviewed): £67.95 (inc. VAT)
US Price (as Reviewed):

ECS' Black Series has been around for a little while now - while ECS produces a lot of budget boards, its Black Series is meant to be more performance and retail focused. The 785GM-M is a microATX motherboard based on AMDs latest 785G chipset with integrated Radeon HD 4200 graphics and support for AM3 CPUs.

It doesn't feature an onboard DDR3 memory chip for a local frame buffer for the graphics, but we've never seen any value in it anyway. Despite AMD and other motherboard companies quoting higher 3DMark scores with it, it certainly hasn't made much difference to actual games we've tried, rather than synthetic tests.

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Inside the box you get a very basic bundle: a few SATA cables, an IDE cable and the usual rear I/O shield and driver disc. It board itself is a little more flavourful, with a brown PCB offset by red, yellow and orange ports and slots. We think the heatsinks we aiming for a gunmetal grey, but they turned out more mauve-purple. While not our first choice, it actually fits with the rainbow of colour. One thing that we did notice was that there's a distinct lack of black, which seems strange for a "Black Series".

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In terms of its layout, we have no complaints. The SATA ports are neatly aligned to the edge of the board and all the power sockets and pin-outs are easily accessible around the edges too. The uppermost PCI-Express x1 slot might be aligned with the northbridge heatsink, but ECS has designed so the heatsink fits underneath any long cards installed. As for the other PCI-Express x16, x1 and PCI slots - there are no potential conflicts here either.

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The heatsinks are perfectly adequate to their job, however because only a pair of push-pins are used for all of them, any off-centre pressure causes them to wiggle and lose their contact; the northbridge especially.

Elsewhere there's the AM3 socket and four DDR3 slots that offer plenty of upgrade potential, and the board is certified to use even 140W CPUs, despite only offering a very basic four power phases.

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Another nifty feature is the two digit LED readout that offers a POST code for boot issue diagnosis. It's rare to see this on a "budget" AMD 785G board so it's helpful to see it here. However the same cannot be said for the lack of BIOS reinforcement: only a single BIOS is included on the board and there's no recovery facility mentioned at all from ECS, short of replacing the physical BIOS chip.
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