ECS 945G-M3: The Board
The 945G-M3 is a micro-ATX board. Both the northbridge and southbridge are passively cooled, which along with its size should help make this board attractive to HTPC builders. Passive cooling of course means that no fans are used to cool the chipset, and that means no extra noise from the motherboard.
This board features one PCI Express x16 slot, one PCI Express x1 slot and two PCI slots. You can see in the second image below that there is a fair amount of clearance around the CPU socket. We didn't test any big coolers, but we're guessing many or most of the popular enthusiast-level coolers would fit on this board. To the left of the CPU socket, there are two DIMM slots, which support up to two gigabytes of 667MHz DDR2.
For your storage needs, ECS includes four SATA 3Gb/s ports, one IDE connector and one floppy connector. Overall, the layout of the board is decent, especially considering its small size. It is worth noting that the CMOS battery sits perpendicular to the PCB, which means it is sticking up and could pose problems with larger video cards.
Since the 945G-M3 features onboard graphics, it has a VGA port on the rear panel I/O. The other ports include the usual suspects: PS/2 keyboard, PS/2 mouse, 4 USB 2.0, 1 serial, 1 parallel, 1 IEEE 1394a (FireWire), 1 RJ45 and 1 set of audio ports.