ECS A85F2-A Golden Review: All That Glittersby Ian Cutress on January 12, 2013 11:30 AM EST
ECS A85F2-A Golden Software
With the BIOS, being a lower tier manufacturer can cause concern for users in terms of aesthetics and usability. For software, it does not matter how high up the manufacturing rostrum you are, some of the top manufacturers have bad software and some of the lower-tier have good software. This is primarily due to the fact that the lower tier manufacturers can often license other software as part of the package, meaning that internally work hours are put to something else. Some manufacturers do both, by shipping in software from Realtek or cFos then giving it a vendor-specific skin. As long as it covers all the bases, has all the features and is easy to use, usually everyone is very happy. Having no software at all (or a few individual programs that do nothing much) does not help anyone.
On our ECS install CD, we get several options. The first installs all the drivers, and the second installs the utilities. As there are many non-ECS utilities, most of which are trail versions, we went along and installed ECS branded software only.
e-Driver Live Update (eDLU)
I am always a big fan of keeping my drivers updated, though in the grand scheme of things most of us will only update drivers if (a) we are told to do so, (b) we hear about some performance benefit from the latest version, or (c) there is an error. On at least one manufacturer’s software solution, there is additional software which contacts their servers and keeps all the drivers up to date. eDLU from ECS tries to do something similar, although it is a little simpler. By clicking start, it opens up the ECS webpage of your motherboard and shows the download links to all the drivers for the board. This would be the easy way out of doing a full blown search and destroy type of software, if it worked. As with the last couple of ECS boards I have reviewed, clicking start took me to a blank ECS webpage.
e-BIOS Live Update (eBLU)
Updating the BIOS usually occurs due to new options, new functionality, overclocking capabilities, or compatibility (CPU or memory), and for most enthusiasts I know, we like to do it in the BIOS with a copy on the USB stick. Alas the ECS range does not enable an update via the BIOS itself, and it must be done through the OS or a DOS-bootable USB stick. For users who want to leave it up to the system to update, the eBLU software is designed to check the ECS servers for the latest BIOS online and download accordingly. However when I used it, it could not find the latest 11/14 BIOS. I even updated the eBLU software to the latest version online through the ‘Check Update’ button in eBLU, but it still could not find it.
Over the past couple of years, the software for ECS overclocking has not been through any major change. It still had the same spelling mistake in the options, and the options themselves were limited and restricted. For FM2 though, ECS have provided a small but welcome facelift. Gone are the white-on-green styling to be replaced which black on white/light-blue.
Despite most overclocking of late being mostly multiplier driven, ECS continues to provide only BCLK/FSB levels of adjustment. We do get voltage control in terms of absolute numbers, but we have to deal with sliders rather than anywhere to put numbers in. We also get a monitor tab for details of fan speeds and voltages (again).
e-Smart Fan (eSF)
Over the past few ECS reviews, one of the constant areas of praise has been the fan controls. Not because of their wide ranging functionality or plentiful level of options, but they have always allowed hysteresis – whereby a fan continues to run at a higher speed until the lower speed is reached, thereby cooling the components down quicker. It has always been a feature of the ECS Intel boards, and I was expecting to see it here on AMD. No such luck, unfortunately. We can control the single CPU fan header with a standard two-point fan gradient or by the reset options at the top.
For completeness, we also installed the standard VIA audio software. Here we get options regarding which device in the system is default, and audio level options.