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          Epox 8RDA3G

Product :

Motherboard

Manufacturer :

Epox

Reviewed by :

Wayne Brooker

Price :

£63.06 + VAT

Date :

September 16th, 2003.

 

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Introduction

VIA's 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.

Today 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.

Let's get the specs covered before we move on.

 

Specifications
ProcessorAMD Athlon, Athlon XP, Duron
Core LogicNvidia Nforce2 SPP Chipset + Nvidia Nforce2 MCP
BIOSAward/Phoenix BIOS v6.0
Max. FSB400MHz
Memory3 x DDR SDRAM PC3200, 3GB max.
Form FactorATX, 305mm x 245mm x 40mm
Expansion Slots
AGP1, 8x (1.5v only)
PCI5, 32-bit
Ports
PS/21 mouse, 1 keyboard.
Serial2
Parallel1
USB4 onboard, 2 optional. USB 2.0
Network2 x Realtek RTL8201 PHY
Floppy2 drives max.
IDE2 x E/IDE Ultra DMA/133, 4 drives max.
Controllers
SoundC-Media CMI9739 6-channel full duplex integrated sound
OptionIEEE1394 Firewire interface
 
Special Features
AGP-Master for protection against improper AGP card insertion
Asynchronous transfer between the PCI and FSB
CPU clock settings are adjustable by BIOS
CPU multiplier settings are adjustable by BIOS
CPU V-core settings are adjustable by BIOS
EZ Boot
Hardware Monitoring Function provided by Winbond
Includes I/O Shield
Keyboard Power On (KBPO)
Magic Health
Magic Screen
P80P Diagnostic LED
PowerBIOS for excellent overclocking features
Suspend To RAM (STR)
Unified System Diagnostic Manager (USDM)
USB Resume
Wake 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.

 


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