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ECS PF21 Extreme 925XE ECS PF21 Extreme 925XE: We take a look at an enthusiast motherboard from a maker that up until recently flew under the radar of most overclockers.
Date: August 19, 2005
Manufacturer: ECS
Written By:

When it comes to enthusiast hardware there have almost always been a handful of "top dogs", every once in a while a manufacturer comes out of nowhere with a sleeper hit. From the looks of things, that is what has in mind. Even though some people are not aware of it, ECS is a pretty common name in the hardware world. Mostly known as a "budget" board manufacturer, you will find ECS boards in many low cost barebones systems or packaged with an inexpensive CPU in a motherboard/CPU combo.

Overclockers and enthusiasts have tended to avoid ECS motherboards, and generally just have nothing good to say about them. I on the other hand have fond memories of ECS, my first ever venture into overclocking was on an ECS K7S5A motherboard. When given the opportunity to review this new ECS board I jumped at it.

I was pretty excited about getting started when the package arrived but I did manage to slow down enough to take some pictures. For a motherboard labeled "Extreme" the packaging was pretty plain, no flashy colors or gaudy cartoons on the box, it was very clean and professional looking. The box is covered with a sleeve that gives some basic info about the board, once you take the sleeve off you are greeted with a much more detailed look at whats contained inside.

Whats inside, AKA the bundle:
The board I received didn't appear to have all of the bundled items, however this is a sample board that ECS tested before shipping out to us so odds are some of the items just didn't get repackaged. The retail bundle for the PF21 Extreme is as follows, rear I/O plate, Cat5 cable, 2 rounded IDE cables, 1 rounded floppy disk cable, 2 SATA cables, 2 molex to SATA converters, parallel port for PCI slot (there is a fan on the rear of the mobo that is where the parallel port normally is, so ECS provided it as an add in), rear firewire and USB, 3.5" bay device for transferring rear firewire and USB to a 3.5" bay, USB 802.11g wireless dongle and cradle, a "top hat" flash and the standard motherboard manuals and driver Cd's.

The Items I received where, Drivers, manual, 6 SATA cables, molex to SATA adapter, rear I/O plate, flat ribbon cable for floppy and HDD, Cat5 crossover cable, Parallel port, and the rear firewire with 3.5" bay adapter.

A couple of the items included deserve a little more explanation. The 3.5" bay device I felt was simply an act of genius when I first saw it, a simple device to convert the rear firewire and USB ports to a 3.5" bay, I am ALWAYS switching out devices in my two front USB ports, camera, USB key, MP3 payer etc. Unfortunately I would end up being dissapointed later on during the install.

The USB 802.11g wireless dongle and cradle that comes with the retail package looks like an interesting add on, it basically gives you wireless connectivity via USB. The dongle looks like a USB key so it can be plugged directly into an available USB port. If you need to move it around a bit for better wireless reception, the cradle is on a long cord that will allow you to move it to the location you desire.

Main Features:

  • LGA775 socket for latest Intel Pentium 4 / Celeron processor
  • FSB 1066/800 MHz
  • Support Hyper-Threading Technology
  • Intel® 925XE & ICH6R
  • North Bridge: Intel® 925XE
  • South Bridge: Intel® ICH6R
  • Dual-channel DDR2 memory architecture
  • 4 x 240-pin DDR2 DIMM socket support up to 4 GB
  • Support DDR533/400 1.8V DDR2 SDRAM
Expansion Slot
  • 1 x PCI Express x16 slot
  • 2 x PCI Express x1 slots
  • 3 x PCI slots
  • Supported by Intel ICH6R
    • 2 x Ultra DMA100/66 devices
    • 4 x Serial ATA devices
  • Supported by SiS® 180
    • 2 x Ultra DMA133/100/66 devices
    • 2 x Serial ATA devices
  • RAID0, RAID1& RAID 0+1 configuration
  • C-Media CMI9880 8-channel audio CODEC
  • Compliant with Intel Azalia specification
Dual LAN
  • Marvell 88E8001 Gigabit LAN Controller
  • Realtek 8100C 10/100 Mbps Fast Ethernet controller
System BIOS
  • Award BIOS with 4Mb Flash ROM
  • Supports Plug and Play 1.0A, APM 1.2, Multi Boot, DMI
  • Supports ACPI revision 1.0 specification
Form Factor
  • ATX Size 305mm*244mm

As you can see, the PF21 Extreme has a pretty impressive list of features, lets move on to the board itself.


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