counter-attack on the socket A market is well under way with their KT600 chipset
but unfortunately it seems it doesn't quite have the grit to knock the nForce2
off its pedestal. NVIDIA's dual channel memoryarchtecture may not offer the kind
of performance advantages we'd have liked to see but even so it does elevate performance
to a level that VIA's single channel approach is always going to struggle to reach.
There's been much talk about NVIDIA being caught out with
the nForce2 chipset in that the original variant didn't offer official support
for a 200MHz processor front side bus. Of course at the time of its release AMD
didn't have a processor requiring a such a fast FSB but shortly after the launch
of nForce 2 we were treated to AMD's Barton processor, complete with increased
L2 cache and 200MHz FSB. Now if you want to believe that NVIDIA didn't have pleanty
of warning that this move was planned and had to scramble and create a new chipset
revision to cope with it then fine, personally I'm far more cynical than that.
Either way, the nForce2 Ultra 400 was born and the motherboard I'm looking at
today is built around it.
If the name Epox means nothing to
you then your either new to the PC scene or you've been living a very solitary
existance, perhaps staring out through steel bars across an exercise yard or,
if you were lucky, stranded on some tropical island living on fish and coconuts.
To the rest of us, the name Epox tends to represent exciting performance at a
great price usually, if I'm honest, coupled with very uninspiring looks.
we're looking at a new board from Epox, the 8RDA3G. In a market filled with manufacturers
intent on cramming as many features as they can onto their boards this one's a
real departure from the norm. It's also an unusually "pretty" board
by Epox's standards with a snazzy gold coloured SPP heat sink and fan and a matching
gold sink on the MCP too. The 8RDA3G is, I suppose, technically the replacement
for the popular 8RDA+ which is no longer available.
get the specs covered before we move on.
Athlon, Athlon XP, Duron|
Nforce2 SPP Chipset + Nvidia Nforce2 MCP|
x DDR SDRAM PC3200, 3GB max.|
305mm x 245mm x 40mm|
8x (1.5v only)|
mouse, 1 keyboard.|
onboard, 2 optional. USB 2.0|
x Realtek RTL8201 PHY|
drives max. |
x E/IDE Ultra DMA/133, 4 drives max. |
CMI9739 6-channel full duplex integrated sound|
for protection against improper AGP card insertion |
transfer between the PCI and FSB|
clock settings are adjustable by BIOS|
multiplier settings are adjustable by BIOS|
V-core settings are adjustable by BIOS|
Monitoring Function provided by Winbond|
Power On (KBPO)|
for excellent overclocking features|
To RAM (STR)|
System Diagnostic Manager (USDM)|
On Lan (WOL)|
As you may have noticed,
the MCP-T that was used for the 8RDA+ has been replaced with the less featured
MCP, a shame as it means the onboard audio suffers as a results relying now on
the omnipotent C-Media
CMI9739 rather than the superior NVIDIA option.