Budget budget budget. That's what comes to mind when you see this mainboard. No 4 DIMM slots are to be found, you get two. No Gigabit Ethernet, yet 100 Mbit. You do have HD audio, but not the connectors to use all channels. So from that point of view the ECS G31T-M mainboard looks a little... well may I say shoddy ? Well, don't let that idea fool you. If you can live with these handicaps then the ECS G31T-M most certainly will impress. Although I feel such features are a little outdated. The mainboard itself is extremely stable, but what is surprising is it's performing pretty much the same as a 200 bucks costing NVIDIA nFORCE 680 LT. Now surely that mainboard has a couple more features, but again, if you do not need the additional features then this mainboard will offer you pretty much the same performance experience and that's not bad for this kind of money.
If you pop in some memory and insert a budget CPU then with the integrated sound, ethernet and graphics adapter you can have a PC up and running for merely 200-250 USD. So for a lot of circumstances this is a good yet inexpensive solution to gain good performance. If you want to play games however you need to pop in an actual graphics card as the integrated graphics solution sucks at that. But for a HTPC the integrated solution might just be enough though you'd use an analog VGA connector.
What we didn't mention in the review was overclocking. Let me put it simple. You'll have all standard BIOS options available, yet overclocking is not what you want this mainboard for. The BIOS however does allow you to change your FSB and handles it nicely. We pushed the Core 2 Duo E6600 processor used for this review (2400 MHz) to a 1333 MHz FSB instantly and without any issues on the reference air cooler. So you can overclock a little and save some money on a more expensive processor. In fact think about this for a second, you just saved a ton of money on a CPU, invest that money in a good graphics card and you'll have a gaming rig as fast as a hell of a lot more expensive mid-range to high-end gaming rigs.
Throughout our review the mainboard did not suffer any stability issues whatsoever. If you want to build a very decent performing yet budget minded PC or HTPC. Then by all means please do keep this little fellah in mind. Surely it doesn't sparkle with flashy gadgets and features, but this mainboard is all about value for you money and it is worth the effort if it was for the performance and passive cooling alone.
From a baseline point of view build PC this mainboard is definitely recommended by Guru3D.com
ECS G31T-M Mainboard (G31/ICH7)
Info: ECSPrice: 49 USD / 45 EUR