ECS GF8200A Black
nVidia designed its GeForce 8200 (GF8200) chipset to compete with AMD’s 780G in the value market. The GF8200 supports AM2+ processors and DDR2 memory and, like the 780G, is a single-chip-based chipset
Chipset: nVidia GeForce 8200
DIMM slots: 4
Front side bus speed: 200MHz
Integrated sound: HD audio
Memory type: DDR2
nVidia designed its GeForce 8200 (GF8200) core-logic chipset to compete head-on with AMD’s excellent 780G in the value market. The GF8200 therefore supports AM2+ processors and DDR2 memory and, like the 780G, is a single-chip-based chipset rather than a NorthBridge and SouthBridge solution.
In the case of ECS’ GF8200A Black, the chipset is passively cooled by a fairly large heatsink and this, along with the chipset, sits just forward of the board’s PCI-E x16 slot. Thankfully, though the heatsink has a large surface area, ECS cleverly used a low profile heatsink in terms of height, so we had no issues fitting any of the ultra-high-end PCI-E cards in the Lab.
The graphics slot sits above all the other expansion slots and should you fit a graphics card with a dual-slot cooler (such as a GeForce 8800GTX), the only expansion slot you’ll lose the use of is a single PCI-E x1 slot. This isn’t too much of an issue given that a second PCI-E x1 slot sits just below the first slot and the fact that there aren’t that many PCI-E x1 devices as yet.
One layout problem we did notice however is the position of the four-pin 12V power connector. It sits very close to the CPU’s power circuitry and while a standard four-pin connector can be fitted without issue, you will not be able to connect a six pin connector, as the circuitry around the port leaves no room for the extra two pins. This means you’ll either have to get a four- to six-pin converter or opt for a PSU that has the older four-pin 12V plug.
The board is quite attractively designed and in keeping with its ‘Black’ name, the ECS’ PCB and standard PCI slots are coloured black. In contrast, the Serial ATA ports, chipset heatsink, CPU heatsink mounting frame and memory sockets are dressed in fluorescent yellow and orange. Should you have a case-window and cold-cathode lights, the ECS will look great inside your chassis.
Being based on four-phase power circuitry, the ECS is compatible with 125-watt power-draw CPUs (we still recommend checking ECS’ website before buying the board to ensure it’s compatible with the CPU you have). On the overclocking front, the Black offers FSB, voltage, multiplier and chipset voltage manipulation though the ranges it provides aren’t very wide. As a result the board isn’t going to give you the best overclocks possible though given this is a value solution, this isn’t too much of a surprising find.
Beyond overclocking, the ECS sports a long list of onboard features, starting with the GF8200A integrated graphics system. This chipset, while not really a proper gaming solution, offers HDMI output and can decode VC-1/h.264 content, so you can watch HD content without needing a very powerful processor. This makes the ECS a great choice if you’re building a HTPC rig.
From a performance standpoint, the Black offers great performance given its price. The results in all of our benchmarks were slightly higher than what boards with the 780G managed though they were lower than the numbers produced by the more expensive 790FX-chipset based boards.
Cons: 4-pin 12V connector is placed badly.