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Epox EP-9NPA+ Ultra Socket 939 Motherboard Review

Epox EP-9NPA+ Ultra Socket 939 Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: The EP-9NPA+ Ultra offers users a very flexible nForce 4/PCI Express platform, and has some useful integrated peripherals.
 74% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Epox Mar 10 2005   Colin Sun  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > Epox EP-9NPA+ Ultra

Just the Basic Features

Port 80 Diagnostic Cards
The Port 80 diagnostics card that comes as standard feature on most Epox motherboards is a POST diagnostics card. It provides information on errors and general information about the system tests that occur when the PC first turns on.

The Port 80 tests memory, disk, disk controller, keyboard, videocard as well as a whole host of other things. If one of these devices happens to fail the POST test, the Port 80 will display a two digit error code. Users need to reference the manual to find out what the error code relates to.

It's a very handy tool for any overclocker, and a tool used by manufacturers as well.

Round back by the I/O ports, we don't find any Firewire jacks (common to most nForce 4 boards) but the EP-9NPA+ Ultra does have an optical and composite SPSIF out. These digital audio connections allow users to hook up the PC to a much more advanced sound system, without loosing quality by switching modes.

With the DDR memory slots so closely packed together, we thought we might have problems installing Corsair's TwinX3200XL PRO memory - which has relatively thick aluminum heatspreaders attached, but this was not the case.

Thermally, motherboards don't really produce any heat, but the chipsets on them certainly do. The biggest culprit aside from the MOSFETs, is generally the northbridge. The EP-9NPA+ Ultra is based on nVidia's nForce4 Ultra chipset, and it really does generate a lot of heat under operation.

When the entire system is overclocked, this heat can lead to instability, so we we're pleased to see that Epox have placed a large active cooler on the chipset. During testing it got quite warm to the touch, proof that the chipset itself gets rather toasty as well.

As we mentioned, the list of onboard features for the EP-9NPA+ Ultra gets all the necessary bases, but little else is included. There are no extra IDE ports or SATA channels, only one GbE NIC, and the brackets to utilize the integrated USB2.0 and firewire headers are not included in the retail package (the game console bracket is however).

The board retails for about $165 CDN ($135 US), so in that respect you really can't ask for the moon. Still, if you do need to upgrade, there are three 32-bit PCI slots and three PCI Express x1 slots.

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Contents of Article: Epox EP-9NPA+ Ultra
 Pg 1.  Epox EP-9NPA+ Ultra Socket 939 Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  — Just the Basic Features
 Pg 3.  Overclocking and the Epox BIOS
 Pg 4.  Epox EP-9NPA+ Ultra BIOS
 Pg 5.  Benchmarks: SYSmark 2004
 Pg 6.  Benchmarks: Winstone 2004, Winbench 99
 Pg 7.  Benchmarks: SiSoft Sandra 2004, Super Pi
 Pg 8.  Benchmarks: PCMark04, 3DMark2001
 Pg 9.  Benchmarks: 3DMark05, AquaMark3
 Pg 10.  Benchmarks: Comanche 4, X2: The Threat, UT2003
 Pg 11.  Benchmarks: UT2004, Doom 3
 Pg 12.  A good board on a budget

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