ECS P55H-AK - Entering the Big Leagues


The Extreme Side of ECS

Mention the brand ECS and the association that comes up first is the lower end segment of the market. Not that there's anything wrong with that since going for the high volume mass market is a legitimate business strategy and there's also the OEM market where ECS' real strength is. ECS however has been diversifying its motherboard strategy and has made inroads higher up the price ladder in recent years, notably with its Black Series of boards. These boards are targeted at mainstream enthusiasts, with features that emphasize overclocking and support for more powerful hardware like multiple graphics cards while being more reasonably priced than the bigger names like ASUS, Gigabyte or MSI.

The latest evolution of ECS' Black Series is the P55H-AK. It's a board that takes its enthusiast leanings very seriously and frankly, we haven't seen an ECS board packed with such high-end features since, well, forever. It won't be inaccurate to say that if you remove all visible signs of the ECS brand, you may even mistake it for an enthusiast oriented board from the more established retail motherboard brands.

Why do we say that? Well, how about an NVIDIA nForce controller for 3-way SLI/CrossFireX support, a PLX switch chip for full SATA 6Gbps and USB 3.0 speeds, dual Gigabit Ethernet controllers and memory frequency support up to 2400MHz? We could name more, like some of the new proprietary software and BIOS tools that ECS has prepared, but why tell when we can show? 

A gray board that had quite a substantial heft to it, this is ECS' latest attempt to crack the premium, enthusiast motherboard segment.

There are plenty of ports at the back, with eight USB 2.0 ports, the two USB 3.0 ports in blue, dual Gigabit LAN ports, a black Clear CMOS button and two eSATA 6Gbps ports. It means however that there is no space for coaxial S/PDIF output, with only the optical S/PDIF.


The Good
One of the more fully featured P55 board in the market
Excellent layout
Competitive performance
The Bad
Those extra features will cost you
Runs relatively warmer and with a high power draw

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