This is an entry-level motherboard for the socket AM2 platform, clearly targeted for the new socket AM2-based Sempron CPUs. From this motherboard specs and performance, we don’t recommend it to be used with an Athlon 64, at least while the Athlon 64 models available for the socket AM2 are still above the USD 100 range.
This motherboard will run old games with a reasonable performance, however it isn’t good enough for running the latest titles. Actually, no motherboard with integrated video is. Its on-board video is worse than GeForce 6200 TurboCache 64 MB with 64-bit interface, which is one of the most low-end video cards available on the market.
The good news is that you can, in the future, disable its on-board video and install a real video card on its x16 PCI Express slot. In fact, this motherboard achieved a good performance when installed a GeForce 7800 GTX on it, surpassing ASUS M2N32-SLI De Luxe in some tests.
We were very intrigued how ECS RS485M-M could achieve a better score than ASUS M2N32-SLI De Luxe when installed this video card on SYSmark2004 and 3DMark2001 SE. We double-checked everything, including checking if its base clock was really set at 200 MHz (on some motherboards the CPU base clock is set a little bit higher than 200 MHz – 201 MHz, for example – when you configure it as “auto” on the motherboard setup). Everything was set right.
Even though this motherboard achieved a better score on these two programs, on Quake III and Quake 4 ASUS motherboard was faster, showing us which motherboard is really the high-end one. On the other programs the two motherboards achieved the same performance level.
Talking about its specs, we missed SATA-300 support and more overclocking options.
We could find ECS RS485M-M costing between USD 65 and USD 70 in the US market on the day we published this review, with Newegg.com selling it by USD 45, an amazing low price, making it a terrific platform for assembling a low-cost Sempron socket AM2 PC.
If you are on budget and want to assemble an entry-level PC using a Sempron CPU based on the new socket AM2, this motherboard is a great choice, as it allows you to upgrade your CPU to a socket AM2 Athlon 64 in the future without changing the motherboard and also allows you to install a real video card as soon as you get tired of the low performance of its on-board video.
This motherboard is also a great choice for office PCs using socket AM2 Sempron CPUs.
Because of its great cost/benefit ratio for the entry-level market, we are giving this motherboard our “Golden Award” seal.
But as we said, if you are willing to assemble an Athlon 64-based system, we’d recommend you to go for a better motherboard, especially because this motherboard lacks SATA-300 support.