Intel P55 Motherboard Shootout - The New Mainstream



The next vendor on our list is ECS, which offers up the P55 entrant in its Black series, the P55H-A. Despite looking the least attractive aesthetically, it has the same basic features as the other P55 motherboards. It is in fact, very standard, with few frills thrown in to make it worthy of its 'top' billing from ECS.

In terms of storage options, you'll find the standard six SATA ports that's supported on the chipset, with an extra JMicron controller giving some love to the IDE interface. It's also responsible for the rear eSATA port. But other extras like FireWire is not available and like the ASUS, we're glad that there's only one Gigabit Ethernet controller since one is all most users ever need.

Multi-GPU configurations are supported of course with two PCIe graphics slots where one of them operates in full x16 mode with a single GPU or in x8/x8 mode when running a pair of cards. The other expansion slots include PCI and two PCIe (x1 and x4). Adequate spacing between the graphics slots ensures that dual-slot graphics cards are compatible.

One thing that appears to be lacking on this board is the passive cooling aspect. The heatsinks onboard are quite modest and while we believe that they can do their tasks adequately, that's all we expect from them. Cooling this board could be an issue with such a basic design.

As seen from our previous experience with ECS's Black series boards, the vendor has stepped up the game with more quality components like solid capacitors and some enthusiast touches like LED indicators, onboard switches and even a Linux-based quick boot utility known as eJiffy that is functionally similar to what ASUS and MSI have done. There's still some way to go however, especially for the P55H-A in terms of implementation.

Finally, some of the layout issues we have noticed from previous ECS boards return, though the P55H-A was mostly decent here with no major flaws noticed. Overall, it's a pretty generic board that's likely to get buried by the big vendors but there's no denying its value. At just US$120, it's the most affordable of the boards gathered today and half that of the most expensive ASUS and Gigabyte boards.