ECS X79R-AX Motherboard Review
The BIOS & Software
The X79R-AX defaults to an advanced BIOS display mode. There is a simplified easy mode for novice users but not having the option enabled by default defeats the purpose of having it really. Reviewers love the ease of saving screenshots with most brands' UEFI BIOS'. The option to do so is lacking for the X79R-AX so we've reverted to the photo of the screen method.
Below is the main page which is seen when entering the BIOS. It would be nice to see some information such as installed hardware specifications, CPU temperature or the BIOS version here.
The advanced tab contains most of the controls for the onboard devices as well as the PC health status. The SCU SATA configuration is where the SAS ports can be enabled.
The chipset tab contains few options, however one of the options under the PCH tab is the option to enable or disable audio. It seems to be a strange place to put this control given the audio controller is not part of the PCH. Relocating this option to the advanced tab would be logical.
Below is the MIB.X page which contains the overclocking controls.
The voltage functions are controlled by an offset shown in millivolts. It is not an intuitive method and is one we'd prefer to see changed. It is simply easier to key in or select, for example, 1.45v instead of working out the offset from the default voltage. We have forwarded this suggestion (amongst others) to ECS and hope they change it.
Overall the general overclocking functionality of the page works OK but its design is not as intuitive as some vendors implementations.
The topmost CPU configuration page contains the standard options such as C-States, hyperthreading, core count and power options.
The CPU overclocking function menu contains the CPU multiplier control and advanced power controls.
The memory overclocking function page contains the XMP controls, memory multiplier and timings.
When changing the memory multiplier in manual mode, it may be necessary to manually adjust the timings. There is no auto timing setting so if the user is experiencing instability when running high frequency memory, these timings being too tight is probably the reason.
Need any more boot options?
There are eight nameable profile slots in the profile configuration page.
There are a lot of similar looking options here. Save changes and exit and save changes and reset do the same thing.. strange..
ECS includes some useful utilities on the bundled DVD.
The ECS OC utility is fairly basic compared to some but it does work well. Voltage is controlled by actual value which would be great to see in the BIOS itself! CPU base clock is controlled in 1Mhz increments. The monitoring page only shows CPU and system temperatures.
A really good little utility coming with the board is a fully featured hysteresis fan control application. Many companies offer a straight slider control for fan speeds but with this method the fan can be ramped according to a user set curve. The user can therefore choose a setup that works best for them.