ATI filled their Radeon HD 5000 series from top to bottom, and are now ready with a new integrated graphics processor for AMD’s motherboards.
However the IGP is still capable of multimedia niceties including video upscaling, accelerated HD playback (including Flash video), and even some amount of accelerated GPU processing with compatible software. Hybrid Crossfire, which pairs the IGP with a low-end Radeon card to deliver the combined performance of both, is also supported.
The last interesting feature is native support for 6 GBps SATA 3, which means all the board’s internal and external SATA ports use the newly-launched standard with no additional controllers or accessories required. USB 3.0 isn’t built in, but AMD says board partners who choose to add a third-party USB 3.0 controller will be able to use the full bandwidth of a PCIe lane, as opposed to current Intel implementations which either halve the available bandwidth or occupy two lanes.
ECS throws in dual Gigabit LAN ports and 8-channel audio, apart from the chipset’s integrated features. The rear panel has one of each type of video output—VGA, DVI, DisplayPort and HDMI, which was a pleasant surprise. You can use ATI Eyefinity triple-monitor configurations out of the box, though of course limited by the IGP’s power. There are six USB ports on the rear with headers for eight more, but no USB 3.0 (which isn’t natively supported, but most motherboard vendors will add it through an extra controller—and USB 3.0 will be common soon enough that we wonder why any new motherboard today doesn’t have it). You get one eSATA port, but no FireWire. Interestingly, there’s also a CMOS clear button on the rear panel for easy BIOS resets if you tweak the settings often.
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