Motherboard manufacturers have taken an increased interest in maximizing the multimedia capabilities of their products as people turn to their PC to fulfill more and more of their entertainment needs. While being able to integrate the audio and video from a computer into a home theater system has been possible for a long time, you generally had to sacrifice quality for the sake of it being easy and inexpensive.
Having a motherboard with integrated high definition video and audio is one way to make things easier, and with a price around $65 ($45 after rebate)
GF7100PVT-M GeForce 7100 mATX motherboard seems to have the inexpensive part covered, too. In this review we will see if this motherboard offers quality high enough to score the hat trick of factors that would make this board a success in a low cost HTPC.
The promotional image above provides a quick glimpse of the motherboard provided for review, and the purple coloring of the PCB should let anyone familiar with ECS know exactly what brand board they are looking at.
Instead of copying and pasting the features and specifications into the review, please feel free to visit the ECS website for the most up-to-date data. A complete list of the features can be found on this page
, while a complete list of the specifications can be found on this page
The list of features and specifications seems rather complete for such a budget conscious mATX motherboard. My first impression is that this would be a great base for a low cost HTPC that could handle some seriously high end components. It supports some of the latest Intel processors with FSBs up to 1333MHz, four SATA 3Gbps connections capable of several varieties of RAID, built in HD audio, and your choice of using the x16 PCI Express slot or the onboard VGA and DVI outputs for video.
While the board does support 800MHz DDR2 memory, I was somewhat surprised to read that the memory controller operates in single channel mode only. I thought dual channel was the universal standard and that single channel memory was a thing of the past. You can populate the two slots with up to 4GB of PC2-6400, so the capacity isn't a problem, but the bandwidth probably won't be too impressive.
The box for the ECS
GF7100PVT-M GeForce 7100 mATX motherboard is shown below. The front provides information such as what processors are supported, memory format, that it has onboard SATA RAID, and that DVI and HDMI video output are possible. The back provides even more details on key features and specifications, as well as an image of the board to highlight some of these items.