This review of the EQS A72K9-CF Crossfire Edition mainboard was carried out using a pre-retail board and a pre-retail BIOS. Whilst HEXUS is confident our analysis represents what'll be shown in a full production board available at retail, please do bear it in mind.EQS might not be a name in the PC component industry that you will readily recognise. They've not had much of a presence in the eyes of the usual HEXUS readership, but a review this year of their A58XK9-ALF Radeon Xpress 200P mainboard and the knowledge that they've got the significant support of PC Partner - one of, if not the biggest manufacturer of ATI graphics and mainboard products - should pique your interest.
An increased retail presence, at least in the UK, in 2005 has led to them showing up on the HEXUS radar. With EQS being the first vendor to seed us with a Crossfire Edition mainboard that supports ATI's multi-GPU technology, it's clear that they're serious about getting a foot in the door not only in a visibility and retail presence sense, but with strong manufacturing and development support to do so from a timely point of view too. Being first or thereabouts to market has definite advantages to a mainboard vendor in terms of building up a brand.
However that means they must make sure their timely entrance with new technology makes the grade and early issues, bugs and problems are ironed out as much as possible. The HEXUS.note at the top of this page is proof that they're at least willing to try and get that done.
Moving on to the product in hand, ATI's Crossfire platform has had muted or negative reception from most corners of influence and opinion, ours included. The current generation of Crossfire graphics boards don't make a case for purchasing the rest of the platform very well. However the market for well done mainboards that do their job well across the board is huge. There's still room for Crossfire Edition mainboards to have appeal regardless of whether they're ever used for Crossfire or not.
ATI's Radeon Xpress 200 core logic for Socket 939 AMD processors is generally very good, mainboards like Sapphire's PURE Innovation based on RX480 standing out in recent memory as an attractive (if not in the colour scheme for this reviewer) ATI 480-series mainboard that's worth consideration for any enthusiast mainboard shortlist. So while Crossfire Edition mainboards have Crossfire itself as a primary consideration, they're still basic mainboards at their heart and worth analysing in that sense.
EQS enabled HEXUS with their A72K9-CF Crossfire Edition mainboard literally weeks before I got my grubby paws on the Master board hardware needed to complete the platform for our analysis on launch. That timely showing has enabled me to really get to know the board for this HEXUS.core article. Join me as I have a look at the A72K9-CF, starting with the board and its layout.