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ECS P965T-A ECS P965T-A Motherboard: ECS sends over a well priced entry into the Core 2 Duo market. Without breaking the bank, will this offering bring the performance?
Date: October 26, 2006
Manufacturer: ECS
Written By: Brook Moore
Price:

The 'Lair has been full of buzz since Intel's announcement of the Core 2 Duo (C2D), you could see and feel the excitement from the editors as the time came near for the unveiling. Then the bottom started to fall out, Intel launched the C2D alright, but they left a legacy of LGA-775 motherboards in the wake that could not support them. With bated breath we waited for the final word of what was and what was not supported. Unfortunately my hope for re-utilizing my Asus P5WD2-Extreme Intel 975x chipset fell short, as the revision I had could not be modded to support the new processor, that yes, was sitting on my desk in its Intel Blue box.

While all of this was happening, Intel quietly introduced the Intel 965 chipset, paired with a new South Bridge and the ability to run the C2D as well as forward looking Core 2 Quad; maybe it was a bit to quiet? Enter and their iteration of the 965 NB, the .

has come along way in a short time, their motherboards have improved drastically in the 18 months that I have been reviewing them, not only achieving quality advancement, but adding useful features the likes of “Top Hat” BIOS salvage, among others. Let's take a look at latest entry into the motherboard market.

Specifications

Form factor
ATX
Chipset
Intel 965
CPU
LGA775 supporting the Intel Core 2 Extreme / Core 2 Duo / Pentium D / / Pentium 4 / Celeron D (@ 65nm and 80nm)
FSB

1066/800/533

BIOS
Award BIOS, Inc.
Memory
4 DDR2 DIMMS / Max 8GB / Dual Channel capable
PCIe
2 – x16 (PCIe1 x16 / PCIe2 x4) / 2 – x1
NIC
Realtek RTL8169/8110 10/100/1000 (PCI)
IDE
ICH8 - 1x ATA133 / 5x SATA-II (RAID 0/1/5)
Audio
Realtek ALC882M HD 8-Channel CODEC with S/PDIF Optical/Copper
Ports
10x USB 2.0 (4 rear, 3x2 headers) / PS2 (2)
Misc
Intel Active Management / Intel Matrix Storage

As with most motherboards out today, the ECS P965T-A is packed with ports and features. There is plenty of USB support and more then enough SATA-II ports to make most people happy. The only glaring things missing here are Firewire and the GB NIC is PCI based rather then PCIe, which could hurt performance.

Another point of interest in the specifications is that the maximum RAM for the P965T-A is 8GB. Thus, this motherboard can support 2GB DDR2 modules, not that the average user or even heavy gamer would use such vast amounts of RAM, but it's nice to know someday you can.

As you can see, ECS opted out of the Intel Pro 1000 for the Realtek PCI based 10/100/1000. ECS also chose to enable 5 of the 6 available SATA-II ports, not that 5 is to few, they just have the option for a 6th in the reference design.

The ECS motherboard arrived as expected, well packaged with a well identified feature listing on the outside, hopefully giving you a good indication of what you are purchasing.

Opening the package lets take stock of what comes as “extra” with the motherboard itself:

1 Red SATA cable (with included Molex to SATA power converter)

1 IDE Ribbon cable

1 Floppy ribbon cable

1 Driver CD

1 Manual

Wow, I guess that is why we call it a budget board...

The manual suppled with the P965T-A is similar to other manuals I have from ECS. The layout is logical and easy to follow. There is no color once you flip the cover, color coding being something that is gaining popularity in other manuals I have seen. It would be nice to at least have the motherboard view in color (when denoting where everything is) so you can easily locate connectors or risers etc (they are color coded on the motherboard), at least have the Front Panel IO connector in color for quick reference... There was a spot of confusion however, the manual had an addendum page that noted a different solution to the CMOS jumper setting. A close inspection of the motherboard proves the addendum to be incorrect.

The motherboard itself is standard ECS Purple. An overview of the layout and you notice there are no fans, which is a growing trend I am seeing in the ECS lineup. As I mentioned earlier, everything appears to be color coded nicely to help you locate connectors and risers.

The socket used on the ECS P965T-A is of course of the LGA775 format and is located on the right rear quadrant as with most solutions today. There appears to be ample room surrounding the socket retention mechanism for most HS/Fan combinations. You can note here the fan less cooling solution employed by ECS, also in this area is the 4/8 pin 12V-Aux power connector, nice to see the 8 pin option here. The 12V-Aux connector, when used in 8 pin mode, utilizes both 12V rails of dual rail PSU's.

Moving to the left rear of the motherboard we see the dual x16 (the 2nd of which is actually x4) graphics slots, and two x1 PCIe slots. There is also your additional molex power connector for that 2nd graphics card power requirement and 3 PCI slots, although we are seeing fewer and fewer things utilize PCI these days. Unfortunately both PCIe graphics slots can not be used for Crossfire, as the 965 chipset does not support peer to peer writes, a requirement for Crossfire. I scoured the web, but did not come up with anything on SLI abilities for this motherboard, I would stay tuned on that one. According to the documentation, the x1 slots are unusable in the scenario where you are using 2 graphics cards. Glaringly missing in all of this is IEEE-1394, mainly because there are none on this motherboard.

Moving to the left front section of the motherboard we see our Front Panel connector, USB risers and infrared riser. Also in this section are your 5 SATA-II connectors a single IDE and the often overlooked floppy drive connector. The ECS P965T-A should give you ample disk connectivity (7 Drives).

Finally the right front section of the board where we connect our 20/24 pin main power. We also have the memory slots, which are color coded for Dual DDR2 functionality, you simply plug each module into the same color. Note that there is separation between the memory modules when running just two, which probably will be the primary scenario, this should allow ample cooling of the memory sticks.

The Rear I/O Panel for the ECS P965T-A features (from left to right) 2 PS2 ports for your mouse and keyboard, LPT, RS-232, 10/100/1000 RJ45, 4 USB slots and the 6 connector Audio panel.

Installing the P965T-A, like many motherboards, is only an issue if something is amiss, that being said, the ECS installed without issue. A benefit of the chipsets being cooled without the use of fans, there is little concern to the size of the graphics card(s) you install, as they will not be blocking airflow to a fan. As mentioned earlier, memory is inserted in either the orange or purple slots if you want to run them in Dual DDR2 mode. Making sure to connect the Samsung HD to SATA1, lets boot her up.

NEXT

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