With ATI's CrossFire picking up steam over the past month, we've been seeing an influx of 'CrossFire Ready' products being announced or launched. Basically these boards fall into two categories: Those with native dual graphics PCIe chipsets ala ATI Radeon Xpress 200 CrossFire Edition and those developed by manufacturers using modded fixed lane PCIe chipsets (think ASRock's 775i915P-SATA2). In theory, chipsets with native dual graphics support would perform better because of the balanced bandwidth distribution (from the dual PCIe x8 lanes) rather than fixed PCIe chipsets that are modded to operate with a disparity between the primary and secondary slots (PCIe x16/x4). However, our own tests so far have shown that the performance benefits of CrossFire still outweigh any loss of performance from a PCIe x16/x4 configuration.
This brings us to the ECS PF22 Extreme CrossFire ready motherboard. Unlike ASRock's 775i915P-SATA2, which was based on the old Intel 915P Express chipset to deliver an entry-level CrossFire motherboard, the ECS PF22 Extreme makes use of the current performance Intel 955X Express chipset. While this means that the board falls into the non-native CrossFire category, ECS can bank on better performance and the extra publicity surrounding the Intel 955X Express as it is officially listed by ATI as being CrossFire compatible.
So how does the PF22 Extreme perform? Take some time to muse over its specifications before we move on to look at the motherboard proper. As usual, ECS provides a very comprehensive bundle packaging in line with all their Extreme series of boards so far.