ECS And Zotac At Computex 2013
ECS surprised us with the number of products it was showing off at Computex. To start, we caught our first glimpse of its new L337 Gaming sub-brand. As the name suggests, hardware in this family is aimed at enthusiasts. Two boards, the Gank Domination and Gank Machine, were both prominently on display, representing ECS' Z87 Express-based L337 platforms. We're told the word Aggro will accompany AMD-based boards in the same family.
The Gank boards we saw were feature-rich, sporting multi-GPU support, Sound Core3D audio chipsets, 802.11n Wi-Fi controllers, Bluetooth, and dual Killer Ethernet controllers.
The high-end Z87H3-AX Domination and Z87H3-AX Extreme are virtually identical except for a different color scheme. Both feature four PCI Express x16 slots, but don't incorporate a bridge chip to divide bandwidth up. Naturally, then, bandwidth is limited depending on the configuration you use.
The more mid-range Z87H3-A2X Domination and Z87H3-A2X Extreme enable three PCIe slots for graphics cards.
Next, we learned that ECS' product portfolio is being restructured into three categories: Pro (for use in the workstation space), Deluxe (light gaming and multimedia functionality), and Essentials (home desktop, theater, and general productivity). All three tiers employ the same orange and blue branding, which we find a little confusing, though the text and size of the orange band on the boxes varies. That aside, the result is much more cogent than the company's past efforts at segmentation. Many of the newly-named Pro, Deluxe, and Essentials boards are simply re-branded products, though it's easier to tell where they exist in ECS' line-up now.
One of the new boards we saw was the Kabini-based KBN-I Essentials. You can choose between an A6-5200 or E-2100 APU.
The Z87H3-A4 Deluxe and H87H3-TI (mini-ITX) are also fresh models in ECS' line-up.
Our eyes were drawn to a prototype H81 Express-based motherboard with an MXM slot for graphics. Expect it to arrive in the September time frame, accompanies by a Radeon-based module for use in all-in-one enclosures optimized for Intel's Thin Mini-ITX standard. The platform isn't branded; it's for use by system integrators.
Speaking of all-in-ones, ECS manufactures the G24 chassis with a 21.5" touchscreen. It sells on Tiger Direct for between $430 and $615, depending on whether you buy it with a motherboard. Most of these things are probably going to be purchased by integrators, though we've also shown enthusiasts how to put their own all-in-ones together in Take That, iMac?: Build Your Own All-In-One PC.
The last thing we saw in ECS' booth was a mini-ITX ARM-based motherboard for Android-based platforms. We're intrigued to see the x86 and ARM overlap grow in the low-end PC market.
We saw Zotac's GeForce GTX 770 AMP! at the show, already shipping and significantly overclocked with a 1150 MHz GPU and 7200 MT/s memory data rate. Zotac's dual silencer cooler finishes the package.
The Zbox ID90 is an impressive micro-sized computer containing a desktop-class Core i7-3770T processor with HD Graphics 4000, unlike most small PCs that leverage mobile components. It has two DDR3-1600 memory slots (supporting up to 16 GB), HDMI and DVI outputs, dual-gigabit Ethernet ports, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity. It comes two ways: barebones or Plus, the latter of which includes 4 GB of RAM and a 500 GB hard disk. Expect to see it available in the near future.