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ECS’ Black Series motherboards have been quite popular in the overclocking arena, but their recent offshoot of ‘Golden’ edition motherboards is pretty much as premium as you can get.

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The ECS A85F2-A Golden I’m looking at today is a great example of what the engineers at ECS can do for a relatively low-cost platform and sprinkle it with bells and whistles you expect on premium boards, while still keeping your budget in check.

Features

Understandably then the ECS A85F2-A Golden doesn’t pack in a lot of goodies, with only a backplate (gold plated, of course) and 7x SATA cables, one for each port. The instruction manuals and drivers disc are the other extras, the latter being superseded by more updated versions on ECS’ website.

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The name for the ECS A85F2-A Golden comes not only from the bling factor on the black PCB board, but also to highlight the quality of the components used. Most of the connectors, or at least the important ones like the CPU and memory slot pins and VGA ports, have gold plating. The solid capacitors and ferrite chokes are also plated in gold; more to show their quality in high life expectancy and stability under extreme temperatures and voltage, rather than the gold plating actually making any physical difference. Still, each Black Series motherboard comes in with a 72-hour stability test to ensure that your unit is capable of handling whatever you throw at it.

Beyond that the heatsinks on the motherboard are also gold plated, although their ability to dissipate heat faster than copper or aluminum is moot. The ECS A85F2-A Golden is also one of the first motherboards to support AMD Memory Profile, giving you the chance to really exploit AMD branded memory modules.

Testbed

With all that out of the way, let’s see our test system.

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Benchmarks

Starting the benchmarks are the two most popular data compression software: WinRAR and 7-zip. For both of these programs I have used the built-in benchmarking software. A higher score is better.

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The next test is Cinebench R11.5 wherein a 3D image is rendered using the CPU. This test stresses all the CPU cores, maximizing the threads. Results are given in points, the higher the better. The second test x264 HD 4.0 is a video encoding test in which a small HD video file is encoded in x264 format. The results are measured in frames per second, in that the faster a processor, the higher the fps.

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PCMark, Performance Test and Geekbench stress tests all the resources of a system. Since almost all the components in our testbed are one of the best in the market right now, the entirety of the performance will depend on how good our test motherboard is. As usual, the higher the score, the better.

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3DMark 11 is an industry standard graphical benchmark, and while it mostly stresses the graphics card, the CPU is also highly stressed for specific tests. The higher the score, the better.

Overclocking

Thanks to their new UEFI BIOS, overclocking the ECS A85F2-A Golden was a matter of one click. However, clicking into the Advanced menu, you can head into the M.I.B.X setup to customize the speed increase. While I managed to increase the multiplier to 44x with voltage of 1.477v on our A10-5800K, Upgrading the integrated GPU’s speed to anywhere above 980MHz crashed the system. So with 4.4GHz overclock on the CPU and 980MHz overclock on the GPU @ 1.477v, let’s see how the ECS A85F2-A Golden performs.

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The MSI FM2-A85XA-G65 overclocked the integrated GPU to 1075Mhz, hence the performance increase in 3DMark 11.

Conclusion

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The ECS A85F2-A Golden is a great motherboard with some nice features packed in, especially for its price. Overclocking is easy, although not as high as I’ve seen on other FM2 motherboards. The gold plating on everything maybe too much for some people, while others will really like this kind of eye-catching design. It’s a hit and miss affair to be sure, but if you’re considering an FM2 build based on features alone, the ECS A85F2-A Golden is definitely worth checking out.

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