|ECS GF8200A Black Series GeForce 8200 Motherboard
The ECS GF8200A Black Series GeForce 8200 motherboard wound up surprising me. After reviewing the A780GM-A motherboard I knew that ECS was headed in the right direction with their Black Series, but that only so much can be done while trying to maintain a low price point. My initial thoughts were that the GF8200A would be about the same as the A780GM-A, but with an NVIDIA chipset in place of one from AMD. Both are attractive, well laid out, and perform similarly, but the GF8200A offers other refinements that make it even more appealing to me.
The BIOS might not offer the most exhaustive set of tweaking options, but you do get more than you might expect, and a bit more than what the A780GM-A offers. Improved control over frequencies and various voltages should allow for greater success with overclocking, and the test system's CPU was able to go from 2.8GHz to 3.3GHz with minimal effort. Couple the overclocking potential with onboard reset and power buttons, as well as other desirable features for desktop and HTPC usage, and the GF8200A definitely has an appeal that can cover a wide array of users.
As you might expect, the onboard graphics solution may not be capable of top notch 3D gaming performance, but it does add quite a bit of appeal to the board. You have the flexibility to output video to a monitor or HDTV thanks to the inclusion of a 15-pin VGA connection and an HDMI connection (which will also carry HD audio), and up to 512MB of system memory can also be dedicated to graphics. NVIDIA's HybridPower and GeForce Boost also bring some interesting new technologies to the GF8200A which might improve the overall experience. While light gaming at lower settings is passable on the GF8200A, desktop and multimedia applications are handled with ease.
Searching the Internet shows this motherboard is available at a variety of online stores for around $75 (US). This is definitely a budget friendly price which can be made even lower thanks to a $10 mail in rebate currently available (check Newegg.com). You don't get all of the bells and whistles you might expect on a true enthusiast motherboard, but you do get more than you might expect for such a low price.
The bottom line is that this is about the nicest ECS board I have worked with, and shows a continuing trend toward providing features enthusiasts want while maintaining a low price. All things considered, the ECS GF8200A Black Series GeForce 8200 motherboard earns the Bigbruin.com awards of "Recommended" and "Good Value".
» Board is attractive and well laid out
» Onboard power and reset buttons
» Runs cool and quiet
» Phenom processor support
» Plenty of connections: 12 USB 2.0, 6 SATA (including an eSATA port on rear I/O panel)
» Onboard DirectX 10 capable graphics
» Onboard HDMI output for audio and video
» NVIDIA Hybrid Power Technology and GeForce Boost Technology
» BIOS could be more enthusiast friendly
» Dual channel mode has memory modules installed right next to each other
» PCI Express x16 slot release mechanism difficult to operate
» DVI connection would be prefered over the 15-pin VGA connection
Special thanks to ECS for providing the ECS GF8200A Black Series GeForce 8200 Motherboard to Bigbruin.com for review!
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