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EPoX 4PEA800 Motherboard - 800MHz FSB on the cheap

By: Cameron Johnson | Editorials in Motherboards | Posted: Apr 28, 2003 4:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 8.5%Manufacturer: Epox

Features of the 4PEA800 Motherboard

 

Package and Contents

 

 

Like most of the boards from EPoX, this board is packaged in a rather eye catching box. The size of this box is extremely small, meaning for a very small form factor on the board and the package. With the proposed high prices of the 800MHz FSB processors, EPoX has tried to keep the cost of the board at an extremely low price, to make the new solutions more attractive for the budget conscious user. The package contains a Motherboard, User Manual, Driver CD and Interface cables for the IDE and FDD systems.

 

The Board - Layout and Impressions

 

 

The EPoX 4PEA800 motherboard is one of the smallest Pentium 4 motherboards we have seen, in fact is hasn't been since the early Socket 370 days have we seen a board of this size. On the expansion front, 1 AGP 4x only slot is provided. This means that you can't use older AGP 2x video cards. 5 PCI slots allow for adding sound systems, LAN controllers, SATA cards and many other modern day peripherals. On the layout front, things aren't so good.

 

Placement of the power connectors are that of a horror show for the extreme user. Placed below the CPU socket, the 20 pin ATX connector cables drape over the heatsink and fan. To further reduce costs there are only two DDR DIMM slots onboard. Since the I845 series does officially only support two double sided DIMM modules this isn't a surprise, however it does limit memory expansion possibilities.

 

The placement of the IDE and FDD connectors are designed rather well for a small form factor ATX motherboard. Below the Southbridge, two Blue IDE connectors are located for up to four ATA IDE devices; this is standard for all boards these days. The FDD connector is located at the bottom of the PCI slots. This creates a problem if you have a large case with the Floppy Disk located high up in the expansion bays.

 

I845PE Chipset - 800MHz FSB from an older chipset

 

 

800MHz FSB is the newest jump for Intel. Most people, including us at TweakTown were expecting a move from 533FSB to 667FSB. Intel surprised us all with the move from 533 straight to 800FSB.

 

Intel has already released the Canterwood chipset that officially supports 800MHz FSB CPU; however this chipset is aimed at high end, and costs quite a lot more than Intel's current I845 line. While Springdale is set to keep the 800MHz FSB CPU down in price on the platform section, it is still some time off as we talked about earlier. EPoX had to make a move to value for the 800MHz FSB CPU. Using the proven I845PE chipset with some voltage increases, EPoX is able to move to 800MHz FSB out of the I845PE, remembering that this chipset was only designed to run 533MHz FSB. Moving to the 800MHz FSB allows for over 400MHz on the DRAM, making this a more attractive possibility. This action isn't sanctioned by Intel, however, Intel isn't asking that the board be removed from the market place, even Intel can see the need for value chipset, and otherwise you can bet we would see the whole Coppermine/I820 issue all over again.

 

Southbridge wise, the ICH4 is used for the board. This includes six USB 2.0 ports, ATA-100 IDE, AC'97 2.2 Audio and Intel Pro100 LAN controller built into the Southbridge. EPoX doesn't make use of the LAN controller to further reduce the costs. Realtek AC'97 six channel audio is provided for great quality AC'97 audio.

 

BIOS and Overclocking

 

While being a board for the budget, EPoX hasn't forgotten overclocking. This board being already overclocked still has some headroom left in it. Using an Award BIOS, you will find the overclocking setup under the Frequency/Voltage sub menu within the BIOS.

 

On this list you can adjust your FSB from 100MHz up to 250MHz (400MHz to 1GHz) in 1MHz increments.

 

EPoX are known for allowing good voltage ranges on most of their boards. This is no exception. The CPU core voltage can be adjusted from 1.3v up to 1.85v allowing for the most out of your overclocking experience.

 

DRAM Voltage allows from 2.5v up to 2.9v in 0.1v increments. Up to 3.2v would have been nice since over 400MHz on the DRAM is being pushed. AGP voltage can be changed from 1.5v up to 1.8v in 0.1v increments.

 

Like most Intel I845 boards, the EPoX 4PEA800 motherboard has lockable PCI/AGP dividers. This allows you to keep the PCI at 33MHz and the AGP at 66MHz, no matter what FSB you set the board to. This is a great aid if you have PCI devices that won't tolerate overclocking.

 

Our tests allowed us to run the full 250MHz out of the system without any problems.

 

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