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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [10.13.05]
Manufactured by: ECS


Audio Quality

We let ECS off the hook with poor overclocking ability and gaming performance on this board. They won't get away so easily with poor audio though. I like to use this segment of our motherboard reviews as a way to show our readers what a difference a soundcard upgrade can make to quality and performance.

The ECS PF88 uses the same Realtek ALC850 codec as most non high-definition motherboards (including the NF4 board we're testing here). The Intel board uses a Sigmatel 9220 codec.

To mix things up a bit, I will be including the audio quality results from our upcoming review of the Creative X-Fi. The "Extreme Music" version can be found as low as $115 online. carries it for $126 currently.

We used the X-Fi as the input card in the RMAA tests, looping back when that particular card was tested. RMAA uses a word-based scale to describe performance. We translated these words to a scale of 1-6; 1 being "Very Poor" and 6 being "Excellent".

As you can see, the PF88 audio is no better or worse than other onboard solutions. In other words - it sucks just as much, when compared to Creative's new product. Keep an eye on this site for a full review of the X-Fi Fatal1ty Edition.

Audio Performance

Audio Performance is where you'll see an even bigger difference by upgrading. We'll save that for our X-Fi article though. For now, here are the results from 3D Audio Rightmark.

Interestingly, the PF88 performs worse when powered by an Intel CPU. Both perform very poorly however, compared to both the Intel 945G and NVIDIA NF4 Standard.

Real World Audio Performance

To see how each sound controller affects real world gaming performance, we ran several tests using UT2K4's various audio settings. First a control was run with no sound, then each test was run, using 640x480 and the lowest detail settings. Consider any performance loss to be 'worst case scenario' because nobody would ever play with these settings.

Once again, abysmal performance from this SiS southbridge sound solution. If you care at all about audio quality and performance, you are going to want to upgrade ASAP.

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