ECS may not have the market brand recognition as ASUS but the company offers decent boards at reasonable prices and while it may lack some of the perks of the bigger brands, there's nothing wrong with being simply functional. The A890GXM-A, part of ECS' Black Series, shows a definite hint of polish. Touches that we often associate with the more popular brands, like onboard power/reset buttons, solid capacitors, Clear CMOS button, etc. are on this board. Yes, it would appear that the A890GXM-A is a board that would fare competitively against the bigger manufacturers.
So what does ECS bring to the table? In terms of features, the A890GXM-A is rather standard, with five SATA 6Gbps ports and an eSATA at the rear. Legacy interfaces like floppy and PATA are not present, which leaves ECS with more than adequate PCB space to hone its board layout. There's no USB 3.0 functionality like the ASUS, but they both use identical Realtek HD audio CODEC, the ALC892.
ECS has chosen to go with dual Gigabit Ethernet controllers, a surprising move just like its addition of a DisplayPort. It certainly breaks up the monotony for us but we aren't too sold on the dual Gigabit part personally. DisplayPort however is much welcomed, though the choice of screens/displays that support it is still criminally limited. Just like the ASUS, the integrated graphics engiine come with 128MB of SidePort memory, but unlike it, there are no options in the BIOS to adjust the integrated graphics settings, which is a shame.
With a solid, chunky looking heatsink, solid capacitors all round and a layout that we just couldn't find any flaw with, it seems that ECS has produced a very competent looking AMD 890GX board. We'll know better later after the benchmarks if it performs up to its specs, but from a usability point of view, there appears to be no major issues here. It may lack some features like IDE but it's balanced by some perks found on more expensive boards. While the hardware looks very decent indeed, the BIOS still lacks the polish and options we have come to expect from brands like ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI.