The EPoX 4SDA+, like the 4SDA, uses a 1/6/0 (AGP/PCI/Riser) layout setup; supporting 6 independent PCI Busmaster slots. The 4SDA and 4SDA+ are mostly driven towards the hardcore overclocker with no riser slots onboard nor any cheap AC'97 Audio. Supplied with CMI's 8738 Hardware 6 channel chip, this board backs some extra punch.
Placement of the connectors for the IDE and FDD are reasonably placed. A bit of a stretch was required to get the HDD cables to connect in our Macase Fulltower case, but for regular Mid-towers its quite a nice fit. Another feature of this board was the removal or any external 12v 4 pin or AUX connectors. EPoX has set up the 4SDA and 4SDA+ to draw its extra power off the 12v rail supplied in the 20-pin ATX connector. Will this prove to be a God-send or a stability nightmare? We will soon see.
The EPoX 4SDA and 4SDA+ are powered by the SiS 645 DDR Pentium 4 chipset. This new chipset incorperates AGP4x, Pentium 4 Support, and PC2100 (DDR266) and PC2700 (DDR333) memory support. What this means is that when you run your Pentium 4 at 100Mhz FSB you have the choice to set the memory frequency to either 266MHz or 333Mhz; now that's a lot of memory bandwidth! The chipset on the EPoX board itself is covered by a passive silver heatsink. Not that it really needs it; without the heatsink the Northbridge barely broke 21 degres Celcius.
Lately SiS have been hitting the market with single chipset solutions, that is, North and Southbridges integrated into one chip, but not this time. The 645 uses a seperate Southbridge chipset designated the 951, this is most likely due to future upgrades for when SiS releases the new Southbridge with possible firewire support and ATA-133. While it is not a single chip, it still uses the MuLTIO interface between the two bridges for 533MB/s data transfer rates. This is 3x the bandwidth of the Intel Hub or VIA V-Link.
The difference between the 4SDA and the 4SDA+ is the Highpoint HPT372 ATA-133 RAID controller. This is Highpoint's latest creation in the IDE RAID controller race. EPoX have color-coded the IDE controller port for you; Red for SiS IDE, Yellow for RAID.
The Great Debugger
Like many of the new EPoX boards, the 4SDA+ come with the 80-port debugger built onto the motherboard. With the help of the user manual and this little baby, you can find out just what is happening, and if any errors come up, what is causing them.
Once again, EPoX is into the overclockers section. Supplying four sets of dipswitches, you can change most of the important settings outside of the BIOS. the largest bank of switches (in image 1) is for setting the Vcore from 1.3 up to 1.85 volts. While this is the Intel safety limit, its not as far as this board will let you go. the Switches in image 3 are Vcore adjust. Once you set the dipswitches to 1.85volts, these switches let you add up to an extra 1.775v. That's over 2v for the core! Hope we have some super-coolers for Pentium 4 coming out because this board looks to be on the superclockers side.
The switches in image 2 are for adjusting the memory voltage from 2.5v up to 3.2v, and for the AGP from 1.5 upto 2.1v. Now thats a lot of voltage.
On the testing side of things we were amazed by the stability of this board. We pushed the board with an unlocked P4 2G up to 133Mhz FSB (533Mhz QDR). This board means business. Even with the missing 12v connectors, this board showed no signs so crashing in our tests.