Before making our final judgment about the ECS KN1 Extreme mainboard we have reviewed today, we want to say a couple of words about mainboards on the NVIDIA nForce4 Ultra chipset in general. And this is not to praise them, unfortunately. We have already tested five mainboards on the new chipset from NVIDIA in our labs and none of them was free from some defects resulting from the 搑awness?of the platform. We can抰 but admit that nForce4-based mainboards haven抰 yet matured out of their 揷hildhood diseases? We guess people who are considering a purchase of a PCI Express platform for the Athlon 64 processor should keep this fact in mind.
However, let抯 return to our today抯 hero. The ECS KN1 Extreme, like many other mainboards on the nForce4 Ultra, is not free from certain flaws. The saddest thing is certainly the BIOS with its scanty overclocking options ?for some reason it doesn抰 allow setting a clock-generator frequency above 222MHz.
This defect, however, may be corrected by the manufacturer later. What抯 rather alarming in the ECS KN1 Extreme is the manufacturer抯 tendency to cost-saving on the electronic components. This board uses cheap capacitors, cheap fans on sleeve-bearings, and obsolete onboard controllers. Of course, this helped to put a very appealing price tag on the ECS KN1 Extreme, but at the tradeoff of making it not as stable as it could be. It抯 up to you to decide if you want to save your money this way.
Aside of these shortcomings, the ECS KN1 Extreme may become a good purchase. It is designed properly and can theoretically support high clock-generator frequencies. Surely some people will also be fascinated by the exterior of this mainboard. The low price of this product is its killer advantage, of course, but its functionality is good enough nonetheless.
In brief, ECS had wanted to make a mainboard for PC enthusiasts, but released just another budget product, although with extended functionality.
- Low price for an nForce4 Ultra-based product;
- Good accessories (some of them optional), including a USB 2.0 Wi-Fi controller;
- Two network controllers, proving Gigabit Ethernet (with ActiveArmor) and Fast Ethernet;
- Additional RAID controller thanks to which the mainboard has six Serial ATA and three Parallel ATA channels;
- Good cooling of the chipset and the CPU voltage regulator.
- Minor problems with the BIOS;
- Noisy fans;
- Problems when overclocking the CPU from the BIOS Setup;
- Unreliable capacitors and obsolete onboard controllers.