I must state that I am impressed with what ECS brought to the table this round. The X79R-AX is by far the most feature rich X79 motherboard we've had our hands on and as such it impresses.
I'll start with the sour though, if you are a 100% pure bred overclocker, then the BIOS is going to disappoint you. The features you'll need are there, but it's a bit of an unorganized chaos with features only engineers can understand. For example if you want to raise the TDP limitation of the processor to a higher wattage (say you want 250 Watts) then you need to inject it with a multiplier of 8, then your value is 2000 all of a sudden. That's just one of the many weird things in the BIOS.
We also had a very hard time overclocking the CPU. Where on ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI motherboards you reach 4800 MHz in a matter if minutes... we spent nearly half an hour. It is however possible. The board will also need a BIOS fix as pressing the Clear CMOS button will make the motherboard stop posting. We literally had to power off the motherboard and use the good old fashion jumper again. Hey, small stuff I know, but with motherboards like these you need to weigh up the details alright.
Other than that we have little to complain about, whatever memory we popped in worked right out of the box, the XMP profiles are recognized and can be activated making your memory configuration really easy.
The board layout itself is pretty good, you could complain about having only 4 DIMM slots, but quite honestly there are so many extra ICs on the motherboard that there is hardly any room left for anything else. Each square inch was tucked full. Hence it surprised me the motherboard looks the way it does, a clean and stylish design. For me personally it could use a little less white on there, but taste differs.
Being a somewhat 'affordable' X79 motherboard brand you'll be shocked and flabbergasted by all the features that ECS offers. Extra buttons, extra LEDs, diagnostic POST displays, three USB 3.0 controllers allowing up-to 6 USB 3 devices, you'll get plenty of SATA ports (14!) of which eight are SATA3 (two eSATA's included). We just love the two Gigabit Ethernet jacks as apparently the other brands all think just one is enough these days.
If that's not enough you'll receive Wireless LAN and Bluetooth integrated as well. The baseline performance will be as good as any X79 motherboard, however the features are uncanny. The motherboard loses in the more extreme overclock conditions but manages to do alright enough.
If you are not a 100% pure-bred overclocker seeking out more in features, then the ECS X79R-AX is an absolutely fantastic motherboard. Really, the feature list is just stunning and keeps impressing me.
So, if features and performance on the LGA 2011 platform are what you are after, then definitely try to find this product in the shops. The MSRP is 295 USD meaning actual prices will be lower. In the EU that would boil down towards roughly 260 EUR. It hauls a lot of ass for the money, enthusiast overclocking aside that is.
ECS X79R-AX Extreme review Today we take a look at the new motherboard from ECS, the X79R-AX Extreme. We'll throw in a decent photo-shoot and a benchmark suite at the product and get an indication what performance is like with the Intel Core i7-3960X (Sandy Bridge-E). Admittedly I was a little shocked when the motherboard arrived, as it is probably the most feature rich X79 motherboard we've had in our labs.