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Review: ECS PF88 Extreme Hybrid Mainboard

by Tarinder Sandhu on 12 May 2005, 00:00

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qabe5

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Introduction

ECS PF88 Extreme Mainboard

Enthusiasts are a fickle bunch of people, if you ask me. One minute they're swooning over the creamy, hard-to-elucidate quality that Intel brings to the table with its Hyper-Threading-equipped Pentium 4 processors. Next minute, the same enthusiasts are having performance pangs that only AMD's Athlon 64 S939 CPUs can satiate. That's why it's not uncommon for informed users to jump ship every so often, to really see if the grass is greener on the other side.

The most fundamental question that a prospective PC purchaser needs to make, then, is which platform to go with. Once chosen, due to chipset and socket differences, you're stuck with a particular platform unless you take the drastic step of changing motherboards, which entails a long afternoon of hardware and software changes. Think about it, no other PC-related component is so much hassle, and changing back is just as much trouble. ATI and NVIDIA's graphics cards all share the same interfaces, so it's a simple matter of uninstalling drivers, popping in another card, and installing new drivers; a 10-minute job at best. Changing system memory is a cinch, and SATA hard drives can now be plugged, on-the-fly, into most modern board's ports.

The ideal state of affairs would be the ability to run both Intel and AMD's CPUs on one board, with one operating system. Whilst technically feasible, ATX PCB considerations and the extra cost of paying for a socket that may or may not be used has always stopped the adventurous motherboard makers from having a go. ECS, however, has decided to throw away any pre-conceived mainboard design ideas by launching a single motherboard with the capacity to support most of today's top-end performance platforms, beginning with Intel's LGA775 and AMD's Socket-939. You'll be wondering how it's done. Read on to find out.