Features of the 4PCA3+
- Board and Contents
First off we'll have a look at the box. EPoX has been known for a rather plain box in the past. While being in a plain white color, the designs on the front do make it stick out on a store shelf. While the package is important to catch the buyer's eye, it's most important to back this up with a good product and good contents.
EPoX includes within the box your motherboard within a static bag placed on a foam pack to protect the board and its IC circuits in transit. A user manual for the motherboard, a user manual for the RAID controller, two rounded IDE and a rounded FDD cable, four standard flat IDE cables, USB header bracket and game port header bracket.
- Layout: Praises and Gripes
EPoX built the 4PCA3+ large, and for a good reason. Conforming to normal ATX standards, the width of the board jumps out to 24.5cm. EPoX are known for pretty good placement of the connectors; and the main ATX power and primary IDE connectors are located in a good spot to the right of the DIMM slots.
While I'm not a fan of placing IDE channels on the lower half of the motherboard, at least EPoX places them low enough so they will not interfere with longer video cards.
The famous Port 80 diagnostics card shows its face once more, and what a relief it is that EPoX has not succumbed to the temptation of removing this invaluable tool to save a few dollars. EPoX has also followed a few others on the markets in color-coding their DIMM sockets. EPoX provides two green sockets for Channel A and two black for Channel B. This let you know what DIMM slots to install your memory modules into for Dual Channel operations.
The 4PCA3+ is fitted with a passive aluminum heatsink to cool the MCH Northbridge. Intel 82875P MCH has 1005 solder balls in Flip Chip Ball Grid Array (FCBGA) package. The 82875P Memory Controller Hub supports an 800 MHz system bus, 4GB of DDR400 SDRAM with ECC support providing memory bandwidth up to 3.2GB/s and linked to the Southbridge on Intel Hub Architecture with 266MB/s of bandwidth. It also supports Performance Acceleration Technology (PAT) that enhances chipset latencies to improve performance and provides a Communications Streaming Architecture (CSA) Interface that connects the MCH to a Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) controller.
The Southbridge is Intel 82801ER (ICH5R) with 460 solder balls in Micro Ball Grid Array (MBGA) package. ICH5R integrates an Ultra ATA 100 controller that supports 2x ATA-100 ports, 2x Serial ATA host controllers for 2x 150MB/s SATA ports, one EHCI host controller, and four UHCI host controllers supporting eight external USB 2.0 ports, AC '97 digital controller that can be paired up with a 3rd CODEC like C-Media 9739A to provide 6 Channel Audio, integrated LAN controller, an ASF controller and a hub interface for communication with the MCH.
- Highpoint HPT374 Quad Channel RAID Controller
Since the Southbridge incorporates two Serial ATA ports supporting RAID functions, this allows EPoX to focus more on the IDE RAID users out there as well. After all, most of us out there have IDE RAID systems, from simple 2x 20GB up to 8x 100GB HDD's. EPoX is one company that accommodates these users. The Highpoint HPT374 Quad Channel RAID controller is included. Four IDE ports are provided for up to eight IDE HDD devices. This is a fantastic IDE controller, by far the best of them all in IDE terms.
- Gigabit Ethernet
While the i875P supports the new CSA Gigabit Ethernet interface, EPoX hasn't availed themselves of it. EPoX has elected to used a PCI based Boradcom Gigabit Ethernet controller. This controller has proven to be slower in Gigabit operations but identical in 100mbit tests.
The EPoX 4PCA3+, like its predecessors, includes all the overclocking options that EPoX are known for, but with some limitations. First off under the Frequency/Voltage control menu you will find all the overclocking options. FSB adjustments are possible from 133MHz up to 455MHz in 1MHz increments. Vcore adjustments are somewhat diminished from what we come to expect from EPoX. VCore can be adjusted from 1.1v up to 1.6v in 0.025v increments. This does limit overclocking to the extreme like Gigabyte, Asus and ABIT boards. DRAM voltage on the other hand is in abundance allowing up to 3.3v.