Mention ECS (Elitegroup) in the same sentence as enthusiast, high-quality motherboards and you might not have a favorable outlook towards their products or branding. Indeed, in the world of I.T. components, ECS has always played second or even third fiddle to many of the household names like ASUS, MSI and Gigabyte. However, little do many know, ECS is actually one of the top three motherboard manufacturers and controls up to 15% of the motherboard market in the world. In fact, they were the largest motherboard manufacturer in 2002, with a two million units/month in sales and have constantly been listed as the top 100 I.T. enterprises by Business Week USA in 2002, 2003 and 2004. It is also not an industry secret that ECS is also the OEM manufacturer for the likes of ABIT, EPoX, FIC, Lenovo, just to name a few.
Of course, ECS focuses on volume and their OEM/ODM and SI (System Integration) channels represent a good portion of their sales too. Unfortunately for ECS, budget and volume does not necessarily paint a rosy picture to the consumer when one is looking for high-end and quality. ECS themselves are partly to blame for their marketing strategies in the past, which did not focus on branding and product awareness. This is precisely the image that ECS is now trying to undo. We have noticed that they have aggressively begun to promote their products, especially their Extreme series of high-end motherboards.
In the recent Computex 2005 show in Taipei, ECS had on display motherboards with all the latest chipsets from ATI to NVIDIA, Intel to VIA and even SiS. Their current strategies not only encompasses marketing, but the promise of a closer relationship with its customers and the delivery of innovation and integration. To this, we somewhat agree that ECS has been making some headway. In the past year, they have begun to emerge on the motherboard radar with truly innovative technologies (and quite a few redundant ones), focusing on cross-platform integration. Think AGP Express, which provides a PCI bridge to support AGP cards in a PCI Express environment. Think PF88 Extreme Hybrid, a motherboard that can be converted to support all forms of processors from both desktop to mobile, in both Intel and AMD camps. ECS isn't stopping there either, and they have hinted of more hybrid all-in-one solution products in the future.
All this is well and good, but how about quality? Can ECS debunk the common conception that their products cannot meet the standards of other first-tier manufacturers? In order to gain a little more insight on ECS' operations, www.hardwarezone.com® accepted an invitation to tour their manufacturing factories in China as part of a post-Computex 2005 event.