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Epox 4SDA5+ SiS648 Motherboard Review

Epox 4SDA5+ SiS648 Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: In addition to the old standard IDE RAID we find 5.1 audio (software codec), 10/100 NIC, IEEE 1394, USB 2.0, three DIMM slots and AGP 8X.
 82% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Epox Nov 12 2002   Colin Sun  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > Epox 4SDA5+

Attention to Details - on board Features

Epox's attention to detail is something that we're really impressed with. When installing the motherboard, you won't have to refer to the motherboard manual when connecting the front panel LED's or switches. Epox also positions all the USB and IEEE 1394 at the bottom of the motherboard. This way the cables all stay at the bottom of the case and should l not get in the way of the other devices.

There's not much to complain about with the 4SDA5+, but we would have liked to have seen hardware based on board audio rather then the CPU sapping AC'97 codec. Gamers and audiophiles will definitely have to buy a PCI based sound card for a system based on this board. Most motherboards in the 4SDA5+'s class also have on board Serial ATA, so it would have been nice if that were supported as well. Sadly, it is not.

My biggest complaint about the 4SDA5+ revolves around a setting in the BIOS which makes it currently impossible to set the AGP/PCI speeds. I know when I'm aiming for a high new 3DMark score, I always set my AGP speed to the highest possible value.

A bit on IDE RAID:

IDE RAID 0 is not really considered a true RAID since there isn't any data redundancy. RAID 0 takes two drives of the same size/configuration and stripes them, meaning it makes one big drive out of two equal ones. This improves performance by cutting hard drive latency in half. Since the data is divided equally and written on two hard drives it also increases the data bandwidth by two. The reason it's not considered true RAID is because if one drive fails, all data is lost.

IDE RAID 1 on the other hand mirrors two drives of the same size, so in theory if one drive fails, the other will take over as the primary hard drive and the system can continue to operate normally. This is what is supposed to happen with a SCSI hard drive setup and it actually works pretty well there.

The IDE subsystem doesn't allow hard drives to be disconnected while the computer is still powered up and in use like SCSI can unless you have a special HDD tray. Generally, when one IDE drive fails the system usually locks up anyway. The data is safe since it's mirrored on the other drive which is the real benefit.

With IDE RAID 0+1, you need four hard drives of the same configuration/size. What RAID 0+1 does is stripes two sets of two hard drives, one set for a RAID 0 configuration and the other for RAID 1. What this does is offer the best of both worlds, the high performance of RAID 0, with 100% data redundancy of RAID 1. Hence the name RAID 0+1. The only downside would be the need for four identical hard drives.

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Contents of Article: Epox 4SDA5+
 Pg 1.  Epox 4SDA5+ SiS648 Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  — Attention to Details - on board Features
 Pg 3.  SiS 648 Northbridge and 963 Southbridge
 Pg 4.  The BIOS on the 4SDA5+
 Pg 5.  Benchmarks: sysmark 2002, Winstone 2002
 Pg 6.  Benchmarks: Winbench 99, Sandra 2002
 Pg 7.  Benchmarks: PCmark 2002, 3DMark 2001
 Pg 8.  Benchmarks: QIII Arena & Conclusions

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