ECS P55H-A motherboard review -
Final Words and Verdict
With each ECS motherboard release we can see them improving. With a keen eye on the industry as a whole and a good R&D team ECS once again brings a product to the market that impresses. Targeted at a sub 160 USD audience the P55H-A Black Edition offers a lot for a fair price.
Baseline performance is good, the feature set is more than sufficient, the board offers plenty of connectivity... and let's face it, the looks of the motherboard are really good as well.
We initially we did have some BIOS problems, after receiving a new BIOS this cleared out the majority of issues. One thing was still a little off, and that was the way the Turbo mode is set up, with our current BIOS the MP did not rise to 24 but stuck at 22 and applied a different base clock. And that's just not done as the QPI and everything related will be clocked differently as well, including your memory.
We diverted that by manually setting a base clock of 133 MHz. Anyway, long story short... we think that this board needs one more BIOS update to be called final, and truth be said... we did receive an early production sample.
In our quest for a better BIOS I did run into one nuisance, no firmware flash software was to be found on the CD. It was not available on the ECS website either. Then we received firmware flash software from ECS. But that was only 32-bit, I think the industry moved onwards to 64-bit right?
It's exactly this kind of stuff that would drive an end-user insane and would steer them away from future ECS motherboard purchases. So a very strong recommendation I'd like to give ECS is for them to look into a firmware flash option within the BIOS. Much like say ASUS has. You select the downloaded BIOS from the C drive or USB stick, flash, reset and bam... you are done. Especially with motherboards like shown today, a BIOS update at one point is almost mandatory and can be expected. Hopefully someone at ECS will read this and realize the importance. Flashing with old DOS or somewhat unsafe WinFlash software is so not 2009.
Anyway, other than some remarks here and there the overall looks and feel of the P55H-A certainly are good for the money and it left a decent impression. For every segment of the market there's a product. If you are not willing to spend 200+ USD on a P55 motherboard or don't have the intention of massive overclocking (and paying a premium price for that), then a motherboard like ECS offers here today certainly should be on your wish list. It's a well thought through motherboard offering solid performance with the latest Lynnfield based Core i5 and Core i7 processors. As such you receive all the benefits the P55 chipset has to offer, and then a little extra ECS tender love and care for a very fair price.
The bottom line: it's a very decent motherboard offering good performance with some really charming looks... as simple as that sounds, it's exactly what it is.
We test and review the ECS P55H-AK. It is with the release of this P55H-AK motherboard that ECS finally reaches a state in product development where they can address the enthusiast consumer market. A board loaded with features, great looks and quite decent overclockability. A motherboard where ECS went excessive on everything, dual GIGe Ethernet NICs, not one but two USB 3.0 controllers for 4 ports, integration of a SATA 3 (6G) controller, and even a NVIDIA NF200 bridge chip to enable three-way SLI. All in all a terrific P55 motherboard with excellent features and just really hot looks.
ECS P55H-A motherboard review
In a somewhat lower price segment you however can always find ECS, originally being an OEM supplier that slowly penetrated the retail market they make really nice gear these days, but always with a lower budget in mind. Face it, the high-end market is crowded and as such ECS always tries to deliver a product that certainly can compete at a baseline level, yet at a better price. Today as such we'll have a look at yet another P55 motherboard, ECS is launching their P55H-A which is a Black Edition that comes with some nifty additional features and really tasty looks.