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EPoX 8K3A+ KT333 Motherboard Review

By: Cameron Johnson | Editorials in Motherboards | Posted: Mar 18, 2002 5:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 9.5%Manufacturer: EPoX

Features

 

Layout

 

 

Designed with the 1/6/0 (AGP/PCI/Riser) layout that has made EPoX boards so popular, they have decided not to break up a winning combo. The removal of any sort of riser slot tends to show that EPoX is not aiming this board at the value market or OEM, but rather at the big overclockers and hardcore PC lovers.

 

EPoX has placed 3 DDR DIMM slots onboard for better than average memory expansion. While KT333 is designed with 8 bank memory controller, using the 4th slot stably is virtually impossible. Even three with some memory modules is impossible.

 

Chipset

 

 

 

 

VIA's latest Athlon beast, the KT333 is running the show on the 8K3A+. This chipset is virtually identical to the KT266A in its major features such as AGP, CPU and V-link support; however, the biggest difference is in the memory controller. Not only has VIA tweaked the memory controller to run better at 266MHz, 333MHz memory operations have also been added. SiS was the first to release DDR-333 P4 and Athlon chipsets, nice to see VIA catch up.

 

EPoX have also elected to change the Southbridge to the VT8233A chip. Supporting all of the same features as the 8233, the 8233A is not going to make you lose anything but rather gain ATA-133 IDE support. That's right, the new Southbridge allows you to use ATA-133 IDE HDD's at their full potential on the VIA Southbridge.

 

RAID anyone

 

 

 

While the new VIA Southbridge is capable of ATA-133 transfer rates, there is one thing it lacks; RAID. EPoX in true fashion have added for your enjoyment the ever popular HPT372 ATA-133 RAID controller. This chip is my personal favorite out of the promise and AMI RAID controller chips. While Promise and AMI do offer the same features as the Highpoint controller, I tend to find that the Highpoint controllers support plain IDE mode better than the Promise ones. Promise RAID controllers need to be loaded with the Ultra 133 BIOS to run in plain IDE mode, where as the Highpoint naturally runs plain IDE mode. You then have the option of RAID or no RAID.

 

Debug made smaller

 

 

For some time now, EPoX has been incorporating a debug LED display in the form of an 88 port LED panel. This display is hooked into the BIOS POST system, so if any of your hardware devices has a major defect that prevents the board from passing POST, it will inform you with a code on the port 88 debug card. You can then look up the code in the supplied motherboard manual and bingo, you have the answer. The past port 88 LED's on EPoX's boards were quite large, but thanks to better technology and some extra time and care, EPoX has reduced the size to almost half the original size. This is a much better design.

 

AC'97 that doesn't completely suck

 

 

Most of us out there know AC'97 audio is one of those inventions like RDRAM. You know, things that should have been scrapped. While the hardcore gamers will shun AC'97, it is a good idea for the value end. Realtek, better known for making network cards, have introduced their new ALC650 6 channel AC'97 Codec chip. While still being AC'97, the chip itself requires much less CPU power to operate and the sound produced from the chip is fair to middling. While it is no SB Audigy, it is an excellent replacement for SB PCI128 cards and those old ESS Audiodrive sound cards that I know a lot of people are still using.

 

Again EPoX with that power situation

 

 

EPoX first introduced its back side 3-phase power solution on the 8KHA motherboard and has been one of the biggest gains for EPoX. The idea of placing some of the voltage regulators on the back of the motherboard is to reduce the space needed on the topside of the motherboard as well as reduce the heat by 50% near the CPU and vital components. The heat generated by the backside regulators is dispersed through the chassis.

 

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