When we typically think of enthusiast class motherboards, three names constantly come to mind. I’m talking about the heavy hitters: ASUS, Gigabyte, and MSI, companies that time and again have revamped and innovated with their product offerings, always creating motherboards with expansive feature sets and terrific bundles.
Over the last few months, a new player has entered the high-end motherboard segment, a newcomer whose name might ring a few bells. I’m talking about EliteGroup, or ECS for short, and a company that has been a leading supplier of motherboards for the computer industry for over 15 years. If you've ever worked for a computer OEM or a small system builder, chances are you've used a couple ECS motherboards within your tenure; as the company is the #1 shipper of low cost entry-level motherboards in the world.
A question that’s bound to be asked is why the world’s #1 shipper of low cost entry level motherboards would jump into the low-volume, high maintenance world of enthusiast class motherboards? The answer isn’t simple, but is part of ECS’ new global strategy that highlights and brands the ECS name to consumers.
Essentially ECS would be helping their money making high volume motherboard business by creating a solid brand reputation through high-end enthusiast class products.
With that said, today we’re taking a closer look at the ECS KN1 SLI Extreme, ECS’ nForce 4 SLI motherboard. Does ECS have what it takes to take on the offerings of ASUS, Gigabyte, MSI, and DFI? Join us as we take a closer look.
You may recall that DFI, once a low-cost, OEM friendly motherboard manufacturer, a little over two years ago made the leap into the enthusiast sector, with surprisingly impressive results. At the ECS Editor’s Day in San Francisco a few months ago, we learned of ECS’ plans toward a similar approach, entering into the high-end enthusiast segment with a variety of K8 and LGA-775 motherboards.
ECS’ KN1 SLI Extreme is the name of the ECS nForce 4 SLI board we’ll be looking at today, and as you can see from the board’s large box and stuffed package contents, ECS is trying to take the enthusiast segment by storm. With their Extreme product line, ECS tries to include a wide array of assorted accessories in the box. Of course, the usual suspects are present: a SLI bridge, two standard ATA cables, floppy ATA cable, four SATA cables, and a SATA power connector. After these basic items, ECS includes a few extras that are unique and noteworthy. They include an Ethernet crossover cable, SLI retention bracket (to keep the SLI bridge in place), 3.5” mounting bay for the USB/Firewire bracket, an extra BIOS chip, and an external SATA data port.