ECS K75SA Motherboard Review

Reviewer: Joshua Jones
Category: 
Motherboards
Model: 
K75SA
Price: 
$60

Well, I was in the market to upgrade one of my home workstations. Since I work mostly from my laptop (Stay tuned for my Latitude 840 review) I really did not want to spend a whole bunch of money on the upgrade. So I wandered down to my local computer shop to hunt for some new hardware. I began looking at this board from ECS. I had never purchased an ECS board and never worked with a SiS chipset. The shop owner told me that he had some rather good experience with the ECS K75SA, although in mostly on MS Windows. If I was not satisfied with it I could always return it. What the heck I decided to give it a go!

Features

  • Socket A for AMD Athlon and Duron Processors. (ECS claims "future processor" support)
  • SiS 735 system chipset, built-in hardware monitor, Integrated LAN and Sound
  • 2MB Flash EPROM BIOS
  • Audio and Game ports, 2 USB
  • Dual IDE up to UDMA 100
  • Two 184 pin DDR SDRAM DIMM Slots and Two 168 pin SDRAM slots
  • ATX
  • 5 PCI slots, 1 AGP slot, and 1 AMR
  • Other junk like a software CD included

The System I Used

  • ECS K75SA
  • AMD Athlon 1700+
  • 512 MB Micron Cas2 PC133 SDRAM
  • 3DFX Voodoo3 (GeForce 3 on Order)
  • Creative DVD Drive and Decoder
  • SB Live Value
  • Additional Realtek NIC
  • 1 IBM 20GB 7200RPM and 1 30GB IBM 7200RPM Hard disks
  • RedHat 7.2 with 2.4.18 Kernel

Conclusion

My first Impression was the price I paid for it. Under sixty bucks! Cool huh? The layout is pretty standard. Although I think that the RAM slots are a bit too close to the CPU. I knew that I would not't have any problems with the onboard LAN but I knew that I would have issues with the onboard sound.

I used RedHat 7.2 as my Linux distribution of choice as I'm pretty familiar with it. Installation went without a hitch and I was able to boot into the new system (a 2.4.7 Kernel). The onboard LAN worked without any problems. I installed a second NIC for my VMWare sessions. The onboard sound was another story. No sound at all. After a little bit of research and some trial and error I was able to get it running. Well It sounded like crap. But I already figured on that. Good thing I had the tried and true Sound Blaster Live Value. That worked out better. From what I have read SiS will be writing the drivers for the sound. Will this happen? I don't know.

One thing I had to do was manually configure the CPU settings in the BIOS. This was rather easy. All I had to do was change the FSB settings from 100Mhz to 133Mhz. Piece of cake. One other thing I noticed was that when exiting Xwindows (KDE) my hard drives would spin down into sleep mode. Funny huh? The Culprit was the Redhat "canned" kernel. I downloaded the 2.4.18 kernel and compiled it. This fixed that issue and my system has been running great. Just remember to look for those SiS options when compiling your kernel!

I have been running this system for over a month now without shutting it down. It has proven to be a stable and fast motherboard. I definitely could not't go wrong for under Sixty bucks. I'm looking at upgrading to DDR SDRAM memory in the future as well as installing my GeForce 3. I am extremely pleased with this motherboard.

Conclusion

The Good - Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Stable and fast
  • Onboard LAN
  • Supports DDR SDRAM and SDRAM
The Bad - Cons
  • No good sound support under Linux
  • Only two slots for each type of RAM
The Ugly - Problems
  • Needs better sound drivers
The Verdict - Opinion
  • Very good motherboard for Linux.

Innovation: 
3/5
Performance: 
4/5
Compatibility: 
3/5
Cost / Value: 
5/5

17/20

Overall score


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