You almost expect to see a copy of Shirley Bassey's Goldfinger included with this ECS Z77H2-AX motherboard. Why? There is gold all over the place on this board. It won't be to everyone's taste, but this luxury ECS board looks different for sure. The cooling blocks, capacitors and the I/O connectors have all received a layer of fake gold. ECS distinguishes itself from the competition, and that's something we'll always applaud.
The board features three PCI-Express x16, two PCI-Express x1 and two PCI slots. You'll find six SATA and two eSATA ports. What's interesting is the presence of an mSATA connector for a small caching SSD. Out of the six USB 3.0 ports, four are external. The extra controller is by ASMedia. The motherboard has HDMI and VGA connections for the integrated graphics card, and ECS also bundles the Virtu MVP software. The single gigabit LAN connection is controlled by a Realtek RTL8111E and the Realtek ALC892 is used for audio.
It's interesting that the motherboard has both an integrated Bluetooth module and an integrated 802.11n WLAN adapter (2.4GHz and 150N). Unfortunately, we were not able to determine which chip is used for these, plus the antennas are attached to the back of the board. If you place the case against a wall or cabinet, reception won't be optimal.
Other extra features include onboard buttons, a HEX display and voltage measuring points. The processor is equipped with a 12-phase power supply. ECS has in the meantime also transitioned to a graphical EFI-BIOS, although it doesn't offer much more than a traditional text-based BIOS in terms of features and options. At least it's possible to create profiles.
There is one area where the ECS motherboard really disappoints, and that is in terms of energy consumption. The power usage is much higher than with all the other boards, while the performance is about the same as the others. There was no price information at the time of writing.