Model: GANK DRONE Z87H3-A3X
RRP: £70 (At time of review)
ECS remain near unheard of in the UK and possibly other parts of the world too but they are trying their best to make a name for themselves. They used to, as far as I know, only really bring poor performing motherboards to the table and were usually found within OEM systems and not an awful lot more. They have since then decided to change things around a little and aiming to bring the ECS branding to the market. I’ll be taking a look at one of their lower end Z87 motherboards, namely the GANK DRONE Z87H3-A3X which is a part of their L337 series, specifically aimed at gamers and enthusiasts. Given that it is a cheap motherboard at merely £70, it does appear to offer features which you typically wouldn’t expect to find on a motherboard of this calibre.
Being a Z87 motherboard, it supports the latest Intel Core generation of CPUs, ranging from the Pentium series through to the Intel Core i7 range. However, as it is a budget board and it does need to keep the costs down, it doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles that you’d tend to find on a more expensive motherboard. That’s to be expected though, the term ‘budget’ does and always will mean a loss of features in the PC industry. It’s not a bad thing that the board is stripped to basics, though. The Z87 is a marvellous bit of kit and it has plenty of options to get you started and into the world of LGA 1150 and gaming too. It still contains the basics which are essential and others which aren’t so much an essential but they are there anyway with thanks to the Z87 chipset from Intel. Its SATA ports support all of the usual RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 configurations as standard which is obviously down to the Z87 chipset rather than the motherboard itself but nevertheless, the option is there. CrossFireX and SLi are also made possible on this motherboard, although I suspect if you’re getting a budget orientated motherboard, there won’t be much room left in the overall budget for two graphics cards. Some people do find a motherboard to be something that doesn’t need to have loads spent on it as they all do the same thing, right? You’d be right in some respect but you do get what you pay for in the IT industry, as with anything else in life.
The sound option comes from a Realtek ALC1150 sound processor, and although it is quite new, Realtek have proven in the past that they can provide great audio processors that are perfect for an on-board solution. I do not feel that the audio chip will let down this motherboard and you always have to remember that it is a budget motherboard, so there will be no fancy audio chips in sight in order to maintain that low price point.
What does stay with us is the native SATA 6Gbps ports, which are unfortunately not right-angled, although that is understandable as the board is smaller than your typical ATX motherboard. It’s not as wide which is presumably to save on costs. Another feature which stays with us and is not changed to an alternative controller is the Intel LAN controller, or the I217-V to be more specific. It’s actually a great controller and can be found on motherboards that cost twice as much such as the ASUS Maximus VI Hero too, which proves that it is a perfect contender as a LAN controller as others would’ve ditched it if it wasn’t up to spec.
ECS are trying to break through and become a more widely recognised brand, and it is quite apparent because they are releasing motherboards to cater for gamers rather than just the OEM industry. The breakthrough has been trying to happen for some time but have they managed to hit the nail on the head with this one? They are looking to expand into seemingly unknown territory so it is my job to find out how well they’ve done. Let’s put this budget motherboard to the test, and find out how ECS are getting on with the Z87H3-A3X.
ECS, the Elitegroup Computer Systems, was established in 1987, and almost 30 years of business. More than two decades, ECS has overcome a great deal of obstacles facing new businesses and has experienced the joy of significant growth and development. Her main focus has expanded to not only motherboards, but also desktop and notebook computers, graphics cards and other mobile products. ECS is strongly committed to develop cutting-edge technology in order to generate innovative products under environmental friendly designs. ECS comprehensive system of quality control provides our clients with reassurance and fosters long term cooperation.