ECS Launches H110I-C4P Mini-ITX Motherboard

ECS has recently introduced a new mini-ITX motherboard based on Intel’s H110 Express chipset. This LGA1151 motherboard is named H110I-C4P, and it was designed to be fully compatible with Intel’s 6th generation Core, Pentium and Celeron processors. As far as power is concerned, the board uses a mix of 24-pin ATX and 4-pin CPU power connectors, while the CPU conditioning is taken care of by a 4-phase VRM. Two DDR4 DIMM slots support up to 32 GB of dual-channel DDR4-2133 memory, which should definitely be more than enough for the average user. Clearly, this is not a top-tier motherboard aimed at professionals, but it can still be good enough for basic gaming if you’re not too picky.

When it comes to expansion slots, we’re looking at one PCI-Express 3.0 x16 and an M.2 2242 slot with a bandwidth of 20 Gb/s. It looks like storage connectivity is based on four SATA 6 Gb/s connectors while the display connectivity is ensured by one DisplayPort and one HDMI port. Other highlights include gigabit Ethernet, a 6-channel HD audio solution and four USB 3.0 ports. Given how light it is on features, we shouldn’t expect this ECS motherboard to cost more than $80, in which case it could definitely become appealing to budget-conscious users.

ECS Z170-Claymore (LGA 1151) Motherboard Review

Introduction


It’s a relief to be able to talk about this, I first caught a very brief glimpse of this motherboard at Cebit 2015 as a bare unit without heat sinks; it was nice to have a quick look considering the final products were displayed at Computex in July. Since then we have had the official launch of Skylake and the Z170 chipset and over the last few weeks, we have had some time to come to grips with what Z170 has to offer. We’ve seen motherboards which took a classic colour scheme in a new direction, multiple M.2 ports and some basic units that surprised in the performance department.

In the test bench today, we have the EliteGroupd (ECS) Z170-Claymore. One of the older brands that seemed to have taken a step back from the mainstream consumer motherboards ranges like MSI, Gigabyte and ASUS, but has probably one of the richest histories and wealth of knowledge to produce some of the best motherboards we have the chance of testing. Like in a previous article, the ECS Z97i-Drone was not only one of the strongest ITX motherboards, but also one of the overall best Z97 motherboards we have tested.

This isn’t the most flashy motherboard we’ve seen, but what it lacks in looks it’s set to make up in performance thanks to the nearly 30 years experience that ECS has put behind this. Let’s find out if that’s enough to take the win in todays review.

Specification

Special Features

Most motherboard manufacturers tend to throw in so many extra features, that most users will likely never have the chance to use most of them or even want to use them. ECS is slightly different, it offers the bare essentials and by doing this it keeps the overall cost down or the additional monetary value has been put into fine-tuning the motherboard itself. With this motherboard, ECS include four key utilities with some slightly confusing names:

  • eBlu – Easy BIOS information and updating
  • eDLU – Easy Driver information and updating
  • eSF – Smart fan control
  • EZ Charger

Packing and Accessories

I opened the delivery package and almost needed sunglasses to see. The almost glossy gold colour scheme reflected the light well but also gives off a high-end premium feel.


The back of the box offers a quick overlook of the motherboard and ports. Along with this, the key features such as the high-speed USB, M.2 and SATA Express ports and the brand new Realtek DRAGON LAN option.

The accessories available aren’t as much as some of the more mainstream options, but it offers you exactly what you need with no frills. There are the usual user manual and driver disc, a colour coded IO shield, 4x SATA cables, 2x M.2 screws and risers.

Intel Skylake i7-6700K Benchmarks Leaked

Another batch of Skylake benchmarks have leaked out a little under a month before the expected launch. This time we have the Intel i7-6700K on an ECS Z170-Claymore paired with 16GB of 2133Mhz DRR4, 128GB SSD and a GTX970. For comparison an i7-4790K on an MSI Z97A Gaming 6 with 8GB of 1600Mhz DDR3 with the same GPU and SSD. Both systems used the stock Intel heatsink with the copper core.

PCMark 8, 3DMark, Cinebench R15, and Sandra 2015 were tested with the 6700K coming first in the images with the 4790K following. As you can see Skylake trades blows with Haswell in PCMark 8, only managing to pull ahead significantly in the Home test. In the two Firestrike tests, Haswell manages to pull ahead but Skylake manages wins in Cloud Gate and Sky Diver.

Cinebench R15 shows a win for Skylake with a notable improvement in multicore efficiency. OpenGL shows a big jump due to the improved iGPU on Skylake. For Sandra 2015, the red line is Haswell and blue for Skylake. The two trade blows in the arithmetic test, but Skylake pulls ahead in multimedia, cryptography and memory bandwidth. The final two are expected given additional instruction support for cryptography and DDR4 with Skylake.

As we pretty much expected, Skylake is a minor bump in terms of IPC gains, being able to pull ahead of Haswell despite being clocked lower. One can’t forget that the extra bandwidth offered by DDR4 might be giving a boost to Skylake so those with 2133Mhz DDR3  Haswell might see fewer gains. Drivers for the motherboard are still in beta, but not too much is likely to change in that field. These benchmarks serve to confirm the general trend shown by previous leaks and the hardware looks set for a much leaked August launch.

Thank you TechBang for providing us this information

Despite the Rumours ECS Are Here To Stay!

In the last few hours, we have received numerous emails and read countless stories regarding the pull-out from the DIY motherboard market by technology giant ECS (ELITEGROUP). Reports originated from DIGITIMES under the subject “ECS to quit own-brand DIY motherboard business”.

Before we published such a story, we contacted ECS directly to confirm this story was in fact true and we were given this response from the president of ECS, Sunny Yang.

“We feel regret to learn the untrue report from DIGITIMES pertaining to “ECS to quit own-brand DIY motherboard business, say Taiwan makers” on Jun. 24, 2015. We like to formally clarify that ECS would never give up any opportunity to work on own-brand DIY motherboard as what we always commit to our valuable customers.

We all learn the knee competition in motherboard industry.  To receive the challenge, ECS has made all the efforts to manage our own brand motherboard and create more service and value to our channel customers for years. We would continue to put more resources to provide cutting edge products and marketing events as what we just announced at Taipei Computex in early June and, therefore, enhance our brand value and your confidence level.

ECS has been cooperating with you for many years, we treasure this relationship. We will also do our best to serve your needs through our global structures. We believe, through our close cooperation, a mutually beneficial result can be achieved in a long-term relationship.”

It’s a good thing that ECS has announced this, most of our current computer technology wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for ECS. Are you happy they’re sticking around?

ECS Unveil Skylake Motherboards @ Computex 2015

Computex 2015 – ECS offered a more in-depth look at what the company had to offer in terms of enthusiast grade motherboards after the event yesterday. These include the forceful brand names of Claymore and Blade series motherboards.

These will support the newest Skylake processors and DDR4 RAM, but what has been kept in the quiet is Realteks’s new DRAGON ethernet. I assume this is a gaming ethernet connection to directly rival the Killer ethernet series. The motherboards are in an unfinished state so we can take a look at all of the features without heatsinks getting in the way. Expansion connectivity is impressive, both featuring the new USB 3.1 and M.2 ports which we have come to love as a feature on enthusiast motherboards lately.

Along with these two new motherboards, they have also presented the current Z97 Machine and Drone motherboards. We’ve recently had the Z97I-Drone in for review and it was an impressive motherboard.

We look forward to the release of Intel Skylake processors so we can fully test these new Z170 motherboards. We will keep you updated with any news and events from the rest of Computex 2015.

ECS Offers a Closer Look at its Mini PC’s @ Computex 2015

Computex 2015 – Following from yesterday’s coverage of the ECS (Elitegroup) press event, we have no been given a close-up look at the new range of Mini PC’s ready to hit the market. These are some very sleek designs which wouldn’t look out of place in a modern home or connected to a projector at a meeting.

All of the current Mini PC’s offer the usual connectivity such as USB 3.0, HDMI, Gigabit LAN, WiFi and all can support up to 1TB of addition storage thanks to onboard M.2 ports. These are some very interesting computers that I’m sure will take the world by storm for those that only want a small computer for everyday tasks.

 

We look forward to reviewing some of these Mini PC’s after the show. We will keep you updated with any news and events from the rest of Computex 2015.

ECS Presents Nano PC’s @ Computex 2015

Computex 2015 – During the amazing show offered by ECS, they casually presented a small range of the Mini PC’s that the company offers.

The two main shown were offerings that we’ve previously covered at CeBit 2015, featuring the brand new Braswell Mobile processors based on 14nm technology. They both support M.2 SSD cards and offer WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity; some impressive specifications for pint-sized PC’s. Thanks to the new 14nm Braswell CPU’s, these Mini PC’s can run completely passive and stay cool to the touch.

These products were not only shown over a larger projector, but also shown to the audience by showgirls.


We are planning multiple reviews regarding the Mini PC’s in the future, so keep your eyes peeled. We will keep you updated with any more news and events from Computex 2015.

ECS @ Computex 2015

Computex 2015 – Day one of Computex is always relatively quiet; the official start of the show is tomorrow, but some manufacturers like to kick things off with a show to settle everyone in. Today’s presentation/ show primarily consists of ECS thanking many of the partner companies that have chosen to work alongside them in the last year.

The guest speakers include Sunny Yang, President of ECS, and Jason LS Chen, VP of Intel sales and marketing. No show would be complete without indoor motorcycles and a huge foam key for “success”.

 

I’m looking forward to seeing what else ECS has to offer during the rest of the event. Any more updates, we will keep you posted.

ECS Z97I-Drone LEET Gaming (LGA 1150) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


Intel’s Z97 platform has been around with us for almost a year now, so the marketplace is slightly saturated with motherboards from a huge array of manufacturers. Offering full support for the Haswell Refresh CPU’s, it has really brought new performance levels to the consumer market. While still producing the Z97 platform, Intel are soon to release the newest CPU lineup, named Skylake; with that introducing the new LGA 1151 socket motherboards. Focus has moved from the typical motherboard form factor, ATX and microATX to the ITX size. Tthis motherboard crams in most of the features of it’s bigger brothers, while being a tiny 17cm x 17cm size.

Today we have the Elitegroup (ECS) Z97I-Drone (GANK), under the LEET Gaming sub-division. That’s a bit of a mouthful, so let me explain with a picture.

In this iteration, ECS aim to bring top performance and gaming to the ITX market. In this review, things are going to be a little different; let’s do an ITX showdown with the four ITX motherboards that we’ve had in so far.; the ASUS Z97I-PLUS, Gigabyte Z97N-Gaming-5 and the AsRock Z97E-ITX/ac.

Key Features

Manufacturers nowadays need to find innovative ways to stand out from the crowd, Elitegroup offer a small amount of custom software with this motherboard which is highly functional.

  • eBLU BIOS Live Update
  • eDLU Drivers Live Update
  • eOC Easy Overclock

For more information on these functions, please visit the ECS Z97I-Drone product page.

Packaging and Accessories

The box comes in two parts, the outer protective cover with all of the information on; then a plain, further protection box where you find the motherboard and accessories.

In the box we find 2x SATA cables, I/O shield and a range of manuals and how-to guides.

LIVA Mini PC at CeBIT 2015

Today at CeBIT, we met up with ECS. They presented us with their new line up of LIVA mini PC’s. The main focus of today’s talk was on the newest addition, the LIVA-X. The LIVA-X follows the new method of using a single piece of pressed aluminium to give it a very high-end premium feel and finish to the product. It’s a little bigger than some of the usual mini PC’s, but this packs a punch. It has enough power to display on 2 screens, using the VGA and HDMI ports.

We were also presented with 2 prototypes which are still unnamed. They followed a similar design process as the LIVA-X, but they had a great connectivity package and some sleeker cases, appealing a great market with a brushed gunmetal case with perspex top and a soft white case; these could typically appeal to the male and female market segments.

We are very excited to see what ECS has presented us and for what they have up their sleeves for the future in terms of both mini PC’s ad motherboards. Any news or events, we will keep you updated.


ECS Liva SOC Mini-PC System Review

Introduction


ECS (Elitegroup Computer Systems) are no stranger to the PC hardware game despite not being instantly recognisable by most as a PC hardware vendor. In fact, they are the fifth largest motherboard manufacturer in the world, producing hardware for some of the biggest PC brands such as Acer, Zoostorm, IBM and Compaq, and have been around since 1987. Although their bread and butter has been motherboards for years, they have occasionally deviated from this, releasing everything from graphics cards to SOC (System on a Chip) computers. Speaking of which, today’s review is all about their latest SOC offering; the ECS Liva Mini-PC!

The mini PC/net-top market that followed the brief fad of netbooks never really seemed to take off – by the time everyone had realised that netbooks were generally awkward to use and fairly underpowered the tablet market had began to take off, with manufacturers realising that netbooks wouldn’t survive the test of time. Interestingly, the net-top has had a recent resurgence of interest in recent times, with Android based net-tops offering low-cost media centres to Windows and Linux-based net-tops promising business users a cheap office worthy PC that uses a fraction of the power. ECS has come out swinging here, taking aim straight at the budget net-top market, providing the user with everything (with the exception of OS) needed to turn this little box of tricks into whatever PC they require, while undercutting rival offerings which often need extra components such as RAM or SSD’s first to function.

Specifications
  • Name: ECS-Liva Mini-PC White Edition
  • CPU: Intel Celeron N2807 (2C/2T x 1.60 GHz (2.17 GHz Turbo), 22nm, 1MB L2, 4.3W)
  • RAM: 2GB 1600MHz DDR3 1.35w (8GB*4)
  • SSD: eMMC 64GB
  • GPU:Intel Integrated Graphics
  • LAN:10/100/1000/Gigabits Base T
  • WLAN: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Built-in Bluetooth V4.0
  • I/O: 1x USB3.0, 1x USB 2.0 , 1x HDMI, 1x VGA, Headphone-out, 1x 1Gb LAN
  • OS: Supplied Barebones, Windows 8.1 used in this review
  • Dimensions: 118 x 70 x 56 (mm)
  • Weight: ~190g
  • Warranty: 1 Year
  • Price: $185

The box describes the product as a “build your own PC.” All of the components are well packaged and protected and the motherboard was shielded by an anti-static bag.

Contents (from back to front, left to right) Quick-Start Guide, User Guide, Wifi Antennae, USA/EU Micro USB 2000ma AC Adapter, Top Casing, Bluetooth/Wifi Card, Motherboard, Bottom Casing.

CPU-Z

GPU-Z

ECS Launches LIVA-X Mini PC

ECS has launched their new LIVA-X mini PCs featuring Intel Bay Trail-M / Bay Trail-I SoC processors that boost 64-bit dual-core performance up to 2.25GHz. The LIVA-X comes with Windows 8.1 pre-loaded (optional) but also supports Windows 7 (via mSATA SSD). Linux and Ubuntu OS’ support are subject to version.

The LIVA-X comes with 2GB or 4GB DDR3L DRAM and 32GB or 64GB eMMC soldered onto the board. Expansions are covered internally by the mSATA slot for an SSD and externally with two USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0 port. It also supports dual monitors through the HDMI and VGA ports and comes with Realtek ALC283 Audio and RTL8111G Gigabit Ethernet as well as b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0.

The palm-sized miniPC isn’t much bigger than a cellphone and support VESA mounting for complete hideaway. It also features a no noise thermal design, providing a complete silent PC.

Availability is still sparse, but Amazon is carrying starting from $250. Price depends on model choice.

Thanks to ECS for providing us with this information

Angelbird Introduces SSD wrk for Mac

Angelbird is a highly popular brand among artists and creators of all kings of art. It is also still a fact that many of those artists use Mac systems for their ease-of-use and the functionality they provide for music and image creations. So it’s no surprise that Angelbird is working hard on products to give those people the best experience they can get. As such they’ve just released the new SSD wrk for Mac. This is the first and only third-party drive that offers TRIM support for Mac out of the box, without the need of extra tools and utilities.

The SSD wrk for Mac is built upon the same quality components as the regular model that did very well in our review. It’s packed with custom NAND from Micron and powered by the SMI 2246EN controller. It connects via the SATA 3.1 interface and is fully backwards compatible to older Mac models. It can perform 72K IOPS and achieve speeds of up to 563 MB/s when reading and 450 MB/s when writing. The average access times are below 0.1 milliseconds.

The quality work is backed by a 5-year warranty and the drive has a MTBF of at least 2 million hours. Please note how Angelbird use the words “at least” instead of the term “up to” that we usually see here. Angelbird knows that they’ve built a quality product here. The durability is further improved by the integrated EDC and ECC error correction capabilities. Besides being a fast drive it’s also a power saving drive. The 128GB model only requires 0.25 watts in idle mode and 1.97 watts under load. The largest 512 GB model uses a maximum of 2.98 watts under full load, a perfect drive for a Mac Book. On top of the drive, customers also get access to the Personal Support Portal where they can register their product and view warranty periods as well as download free and full versions of software. A place worth checking out for any one who owns an Angelbird product.

The SSD wrk for Mac can be purchased in capacities of 128 GB (99.99 USD / 59,99 GBP), 256 GB (159.99 USD / 99,99 GBP) and 512 GB (299.99 USD / 191,99 GBP). All prices ex. VAT.

Thank you Angelbird for providing us with these information

Images courtesy of Angelbird

Avexir Blitz Series 1.1 4GB 1600MHz Memory Review

Introduction


Avexir may not be the biggest name in the world of performance desktop memory but they have certainly been gaining in popularity and reputation over the past year, and rightly so. Today we are taking a look at a variety of DDR3 modules from Avexir that form part of their new Blitz Series 1.1. Instead of just sending us a traditional kit Avexir have sent us one module from each of the different designs they offer in the Blitz Series 1.1. Avexir offer the following styles:

  • Original
  • MPower (Styled for MSI MPower motherboards)
  • Gaming Dragon (Styled for MSI Gaming Series motherboards)
  • OC Formula (Styled for ASRock OC Formula motherboards)
  • L337 Gold (Styled for ECS L337 Gaming Gold motherboards)
  • L337 Red (Styled for ECS L337 Gaming Red motherboards)
  • Ultra Durable Orange (Styled for Gigabyte Ultra Durable Orange motherboards)
  • Ultra Durable Green (Styled for Gigabyte G1 Killer Series motherboards)

We received all of the styles except the Gaming Dragon one, as presumably this wasn’t ready at the time we received these kits. Avexir also offer a wide variety of SKUs in the Blitz Series 1.1, they are as follows:

We received the 4GB DDR3 1600MHz memory modules with 9-9-9-24 (CL9) timings and a 1.5 voltage. The Avexir Blitz Series 1.1 RAM came nicely packaged inside this luxury black presentation box.

The packaging lists the key features of the Avexir Blitz Series 1.1. As we can see Avexir is targeting both overclockers and gamers with the Blitz Series 1.1. Key features include:

  • Intel XMP certification
  • Attractive heat spreader design
  • LED lighting effects
  • Detachable heat spreaders
  • 20z 8 layer copper PCB
  • High quality components

Gigabyte and ASUS Shipped 60% Of All Motherboards In China

According to a Digitimes report ASUS and Gigabyte combined account for 60% of all motherboards shipped in China. The total market size for the Chinese “PC DIY” market is about 14.5 million motherboards for the first half of 2013 and of those ASUS managed 4.5 to 4.8 million while Gigabyte were slightly behind at 4 to 4.2 million. That said ASUS managed to increase their shipments from 4.4 million units in the same period the previous year while Gigabyte made a huge increase from 3 million in the same period last year.

MSI also made improvements rising from 800,000 units a year ago to 1-1.1 million this year. ASRock were up too shipping 920,000, up from 800,000 last year. Biostar saw their orders plummet from 1.3 million to 1-1.1 million while ECS shipped less than 200,000 units as they now mainly turn to OEM production. Other small brands in China such as Onda, Colorful, Maxsun and Yeston and Soyo all suffered year-on-year drops of around 25-60%.

While the Chinese market doesn’t reflect the global market per-sé, it does produce a reasonably accurate summary. It also shows us how well Gigabyte and ASUS are really doing and that MSI and ASRock are also doing very well, despite being much smaller. ECS, Biostar and other small/budget brands seem to be fading into the distance and just cannot compete with the big boys who seem to be consolidating their market share, particularly ASUS and Gigabyte.

Image courtesy of ASUS

ECS Introduces H87/B85/H81 Overclocking Too

Just a week ago ASRock revealed to us that they had been able to enable overclocking of K series CPUs on the H87 and B85 chipsets. These are chipsets that typically do not allow for overclocking even with K series CPUs that have unlocked multipliers. Now ECS are following their lead and announcing something similar, while I’ve already heard that Gigabyte are preparing the feature too and no doubt other motherboard vendors will all follow suit.

What is slighty different about ECS’ announcement is that they mention H81 too in addition to H87 and B85. ECS have not allotted any particular name to this feature but what it does is pretty clear cut and that is it allows you to adjust the multiplier of an unlocked processor on non-Z chipsets, aka not Z87. ECS’ BIOS now offers an option to adjust the CPU multiplier within the BIOS and again this should allow for gaming systems to be build on a much tighter budget because H81/H87/B85 motherboards can be picked up for much cheaper than their Z87 Haswell counterparts.

Image courtesy of ECS

ECS Announce G24 AIO Touch Based Computer

CES today have announced their latest product to market; the G24 All-In-One (AIO) touch based computer with its elegant and innovative design.

With Windows 8 hitting the market more now since its initial launch, we’re finding partners and system integrators utilising the technology even more and designing products based around the OS. ECS have designed the G24 touch based computer with a edge-to-edge 23.6″ touch panel, 10 finger touch capability, realistic audio display and full HDMI functionality to give the user the true benefits of a Windows 8 PC.

The G24 is aimed at many markets, as you’d expect with a product of this nature, with a keen eye on the medical and health sectors with thanks to the large, high resolution touch friendly display. Other markets that ECS are aiming for are stores and shopping centres where they claim the AIO to be perfect for public information, promotion and advertising.

At the heart of the G24 is an ECS Thin Mini-ITX motherboard with various models from the Q7H2-TI, B75H2-TI, H61H2-TI and NM70-TI, all with full HDMI functionality and with the addition of a TV tuner kit (extra), the G24 allows the unit to be used as a second TV at home. Other capabilities of the All-In-One includes a hot swap bay on the right side of the display, allowing users to connect a 2.5″ portable hard disk drive to get their data whenever they need.

The G24 is VESA mountable, taking it from a PC to a fully fledged TV with the addition of the tuner. Aimed at having an elegant, entertainment unit for sharing, business and much more, the G24 really does put the words “All-In-One” into perspective.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fk5JLgvetIA[/youtube]

No word on pricing or availability as of yet, but we should see these crop up very soon in retail and online stores.