M861G from PCChips is an entry-level socket 754 motherboard with on-board video based on VIA K8M800 chipset, clearly targeted to entry-level PCs based on the socket 754 Sempron and Athlon 64 CPUs. In this review we will compare its performance with other socket 754 motherboards with on-board video based on competing chipsets, namely SIS 760GX and GeForce 6100.
PCChips is, for decades, the queen of the very low-end motherboards and was, for ages, the number 1 motherboard manufacturer in the world (they lost their first position to ASUS as soon as ASUS decided to also focus the entry-level market). They bought ECS in the late 1990’s and since then they focused ECS brand for developed markets like USA and Europe and PCChips brand for underdevelopment markets, like South America. That’s why you may not have seen PCChips motherboards in the US, even though they are still around. In summary, PCChips and ECS are the same company.
Actually in the past some ECS and PCChips brands shared some models, i.e., they had the same motherboard with different model numbers using different brands. They seemed to stop doing like this, as ECS doesn’t have any model that matches M861G.
If you want to learn more about ECS and PCChips, read our article about the trip we did to visit their factory in ShenZhen, mainland China.
As we mentioned, M861G is a very simple motherboard targeted to socket 754 CPUs (socket 754 version of Athlon 64 and Sempron processors) with integrated graphics (a.k.a. on-board video). It also carries one AGP 8x slot, allowing you to disable its on-board video and install a real video card later, if you want to.
This motherboard has “everything on-board”: video, audio, LAN and modem (optional, through its CNR slot). The model we’ve got for reviewing came with one CNR 56 Kbps modem. It also comes with two Serial ATA ports, controled by VIA VT8237R south bridge; two DDR-DIMM sockets, accepting up to 2 GB of up to DDR400/PC3200 memory; its on-board audio is controlled by the VIA VT8237R south bridge using the Realtek ALC655 codec, providing 6 channels with 90 dB signal-to-noise ratio, which is great; its LAN is also controlled by its south bridge, using VIA VT6103L chip to make the interface with the physical layer; eight USB 2.0 ports, four soldered directly to the motherboard and four available through an I/O bracket, but the board doesn’t come with any bracket.
As you can see in Figure 2, this motherboard uses a colored front panel pin header, making it easier to identify the function of each group of pins.
Before going to our benchmarking, let’s recap the main features of this motherboard.