ECS package their latest H57 board in a box with plenty of logos advertising the boards features and support. Inside is a good bundle which will get most users up and running but we also get two extra items with are very useful. The first is a USB 3.0 add in card, running on the industry standard NEC chipset it adds 2 ports to the back of a system. Also included is a SATA 3 card which allows us to connect one 6GB/s device internally and another via eSATA. This brings the board up to the level of many higher specification products and well above most H55/57 based parts.
For this board design ECS have gone for a 24.4cm black PCB and orange/red components. A heatpipe runs between the two power circuitry heatsinks and a separate low profile sink is attached to the Southbridge. As the name suggests this is an H57 based board at the top is the 1156 CPU location which can hold any of Intels Core i3, i5 or i7 range which use that socket; alongside this are the four dual channel DDR3 slots. These allow selection of 1600MHz and as with most recent boards each slot allows installation of up to 4GB.
Down at the bottom left of the board are the add-in card slots which run from PCIe 16x, through PCIe 1x, PCIe 4xto PCI. Alongside these is a debug LED as well as power/reset buttons and at the bottom right of the PCB we find six SATA 2 connectors which can run in ACHI or RAID mode.
Connectivity on the H57H-MUS is good, offering us 8x USB 2.0, optical out, eSATA 2.0, dual GB LAN (Realtek 8111DL with teaming), audio in/out, DVI, HDMI and VGA. As mentioned earlier 2x USB 3.0 and 1x eSATA 6GB/s are also present thanks to the bundled cards.
ECS are another manufacturer who offer a Linux based OS through the BIOS (eJiffy). This OS gives us quick access to basic functionality but otherwise this board has a feature set which matches its price point. Simple overclocking can be performed in the M.I.B screen and within Windows ECS provide utilities to check and update the system BIOS and drivers.
Last month Intel launched their Z97 chipset, essentially an evolution of Z87, which in many cases brought new features such as SATA Express and M.2 compatibility to the mainstream desktop market. There was of course no new CPU at that time with the existing socket 1150 processors working without issue in the new boards. Since then though Intel launched (along with some lower spec models) the Core i7-4790K, a model which sits at the top of their mainstream platform. Today we see how it compares to various other models when installed on Gigabytes Z97X Gaming 5 and paired with PowerColors new dual core 290X Devil 13.
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