I really feel disappointed about what happened here today. ECS hasn't always had the best wrap when it comes to motherboards. They've struggled to gain momentum in this dog eat dog world, but I really found myself happy with what ECS was offering us here today with the X79R-AX.
It was a great looking board that used a really cool black and white color scheme, something we don't see very often. It supported four dual slot VGA cards, something that continues to be rare amongst most manufacturers at the moment and it offered us a huge amount of SATA ports with ASRock so far being the only company that has offered us as many.
The issue is, we can't recommend a board that when overclocked, takes not only itself out, but also our $1000 i7 3960X. This is no doubt a combination of the extremely poor way the voltage adjustment is done for starters and probably a not so great heatsink over the back of the board.
The voltages, though, are horrible with only a + system in place and not an option to simply pick a fixed voltage, eg. to get 1.4v on the CPU we need to go to +200mv. To date, though, the only board that has been pushed hard with voltages is the ASUS Rampage IV Extreme which we've gone to 1.525v on and the ASRock Extreme9 which we went to 1.5v on. Everything else we push around the 1.4v - 1.45v mark because we don't have any active cooling on offer.
The overclocking process is also a nightmare; you've got to manually adjust the turbo cores individually. This results in having to adjust a CPU multiplier six times instead of once to set it to 45x or anything else.
Everything just went south with this board when we started to overclock and to be honest, I don't have a problem taking responsibility for dead hardware sometimes, but honestly, when you've done 10 X79 motherboards in four weeks and this is your 11th one, you find yourself pretty comfortable working with the hardware.
Because of how well ECS does in the other areas like features and bundle, we won't be scoring the board today. Instead we'll leave it as a bit of an open book for the moment. We've already spoken to ECS and we've got a replacement board on the way and we'll check it out in the new year when we get some time, because the X79R-AX seems like it can be a good board. We've got to get past this issue we had today, though, and hope it doesn't happen again.