4 AMD Socket 754 MicroATX Motherboards: Getting the Job Done on the Cheap

ECS/Elitegroup 760GX-M

Board revision : 1.1A

BIOS version : 1F

On its Web site, Elitegroup claims it delivers the best price-performance ratio when it comes to motherboards. But is this really true ?

For one thing, Elitegroup doesn’t skimp on motherboard size. Even though the 760GX-M is indeed a MicroATX motherboard, with dimensions of 9.6" X 9.9" (244 x 244 mm), it’s also the biggest of this bunch. On this square surface, you’ll find two DIMM sockets, three PCI slots, the obligatory AGP slot and the other usual suspects - namely, two UltraATA/133 channels, two SATA ports, two sets of four USB 2.0 ports, a network interface and a sound system.

Especially noteworthy is the three-phrase voltage regulator on board, which makes for high quality signals and lower thermal output under heavy loads. Like AOpen, ECS also arranged its DIMM sockets to lay flat when the board is installed in a tower case. Airflow can circulate unimpeded around the back of the board in such systems while also cooling the DIMMs. A spacious layout also means that all slots can accommodate full-length adapters, without interfering with storage connectors. The piezoelectric speaker on the motherboard is also a nice touch, but is easily replaced by external speakers once they’re plugged in.

As delivered, the motherboard packaging is plain vanilla, but the software that’s included beats all the other packages reviewed here. Pro Magic Plus can capture Windows Restore Points, and can roll back a system to an earlier state while it’s in use. This software runs as part of the system boot process, and kicks in before Windows itself starts up. Show Shifter 1.55 is an old but still capable version of Windows Media Center. You can use it to watch DVDs, display digital photos or listen to and manage your music files.

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