ECS P55H-AK Black Series
The Black Series for ECS have traditionally been very impressive value-oriented boards, offering consumers some great bang for their buck. And further, ECS has made great strides in the past coule of years in enthusiast circles and getting some very positive attention. And the P55H-AK is the latest evolution of that trend, pushing things further than ever before for the manufacturer.
With a stunning new aesthetic, this board exudes style, and we absolutely love this look and hope for more to come down the pipe. But good looks will only get you so far, and then functionality must finish the job. And for the most part, that is the case here. The board layout is quite good but there are a few basic design issues that have been overlooked, such as the location of the power/reset buttons and POST code display. The inclusion of two additional USB 3.0 front panel ports is an excellent feature to see, and the versatility of connections is also well done.
In terms of performance, the BIOS isn’t quite as robust as we’d prefer to see for a premium motherboard. The organization in the menus is a bit scattered, and voltage tweaks aren’t as finely tuned as they should be at this level. Some of the labeling misnomers need work as well. ECS has made great strides in the BIOS, but it still needs work to really earn its keep in the premium enthusiast market. And the overclocking prowess of the P55H-AK is very good but not stellar, which is a pre-requisite for premium (expensive) motherboards. Further development of the BIOS would presumably help in this regard, as the two are inexplicably intertwined when it comes to pushing things. The hardware design here is excellent, but the BIOS and details are still playing catch-up.
The P55H-AK is a huge step forward and a very strong move in the right direction for ECS, in what could be a new trend for the company in the upper segment of the market. With this board priced around $300 USD, however, it’s a bit too expensive to fit its billing and what you get in return though. ECS is typically known for providing excellent value but that’s not really the case here. And while premium motherboards rarely provide the best bang for the buck, the tradeoff is they provide outstanding performance and features instead. The P55H-AK is definitely impressive but it’s not quite there yet, though we certainly hope it’s a sign of great things to come from ECS.