There抯 nothing extraordinary about the basic characteristics of the ECS KN1 Extreme mainboard. In spite of the alluring labels on the PCB and half-a-page enumeration of various innovative technologies listed in the user manual, the ECS KN1 Extreme mainboard is perfectly analogous to any other Socket 939 mainboard in terms of supported processors and memory.
That means the ECS KN1 Extreme can work with any Socket 939 processor from AMD Athlon 64 series, based on ClawHammer/NewCastle as well as on the new Winchester core. The latest announcements from AMD give hope that the mainboard will also support the dual-core Athlon 64 processors that are scheduled to emerge in the second half of this year.
The mainboard抯 four DDR DIMM slots are ready to take in modules of DDR400 SDRAM. The slots are color-coded: you should insert the modules into the same-color slots to enable the dual-channel memory access.
The maximum amount of system memory the mainboard supports is 4 gigabytes, although the Athlon 64 CPU is capable of addressing much larger amounts of memory. Note also that if the mainboard抯 four DIMM slots are all occupied with double-sided DDR SDRAM modules, the memory can only be clocked at 333MHz or lower frequency according to the specifics of the memory controller integrated into the Athlon 64.
Your graphics card goes into the single PCI Express x16 slot: the mainboard is based on the nForce4 Ultra and doesn抰 support the dual-GPU SLI mode. Instead, the mainboard offers two PCI Express x1 slots and three ordinary PCI slots for your expansion cards. The middle PCI slot is colored orange: this slot features additional stabilization of the power lines and is recommended for installation of add-on audio cards.
The integrated sound is realized with the help of the chipset and a six-channel AC?7 Realtek ALC655 codec. Mainboards on the nForce4 Ultra chipset usually come with Realtek ALC850 codec as it can implement fully the audio capabilities of the chipset. ECS gave it up for some reason, thus reducing the number of audio channels from eight to six. As a consequence, there are only three audio jacks at the mainboard back panel. At the same time, the mainboard has optical and coaxial SPDIF outputs ?the appropriate connectors are found at the back panel, too. The change of the codec didn抰 actually tell in any negative way on the other functions, either. For example, the nvMixer utility works without problems with the ECS KN1 Extreme. Jack Sensing technology is also fully supported.
As for the quality of the sound produced by the audio solution implemented on the reviewed mainboard, it got the following grades:
Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB:
Noise level, dB (A):
Dynamic range, dB (A):
Stereo crosstalk, dB:
IMD at 10 kHz, %:
General performance: Average
The quality of the sound remains rather average even with another codec. Well, that抯 quite typical for mainboards that use the audio capabilities of nForce4 series chipsets. We抳e already got accustomed to that.
The ECS developer team also took an untypical approach when endowing the mainboard with networking functions. There are two network controllers on the ECS KN1 Extreme mainboard. The first one is integrated into the nForce4 Ultra chipset and is already well known to us. The key feature of this controller is the integrated hardware protection tool ActiveArmor thanks to which NVIDIA抯 Firewall puts a very small load on the CPU when filtering the network traffic. This controller provides Gigabit Ethernet. The second controller on the ECS mainboard is Fast Ethernet only, i.e. it supports 10/100Mbps data-transfer rates. It is implemented by the external PCI chip from Realtek aka 8100C and can hardly be of any interest today.