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Seven $260-$320 X79 Express Motherboards, Reviewed

X79R-AX UEFI

The biggest competitive shortfall ECS runs into most often is its firmware implementation. We commonly find that they lack settings that other boards include. Fortunately, the X79R-AX is moderately improved, though overclockers will want further enhancement.

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Key voltage levels, for example, must be set as offset levels, and without any core voltage droop compensation.

Multiplier-based overclocking is limited to per-core values. ECS overcomes our processor's 36x multiplier limit, which affects every other board except Asus', but only by one ratio setting. We used a 120 MHz base clock to push this platform's 4.44 GHz stability ceiling.

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Primary, secondary, and tertiary memory timings are all adjustable, which is a huge improvement over past ECS products. We’re also mindful that many builders won’t overclock at all. If you're in that boat, pay particular attention to all of the hardware extras that ECS' X79R-AX includes.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.