Now we start to look at the board and its features. The 8NPA SLI is based for the budget segment but still wanting to supply the advanced features and graphics support that nVidia SLI brings. In terms of placement of connectors, EPoX has gone budget here. The 24 pin ATX power connector and the 4 pin power connector are located in the same spots between the CPU retention module and the rear I/O ports. This causes some serious air flow issues, though AMD CPU's don't heat up anywhere near as much as Intel Pentium 4 CPU's, but still, something we would like to see changed.
The two IDE connectors and the four SATA ports are located on the right hand side of the board, keeping the ribbon IDE cables away from the CPU as much as possible. However the placement of the FDD connector could have been better, though very few PC's today still use FDD's.
The layout around the CPU is extremely clean and allows for larger than average CPU heatsinks if you intent to overclock. The Socket 754 CPU only supports a single channel DDR memory controller and thus this is why we only have two DDR memory slots. These are placed at the top of the CPU, allowing the memory to be cooled by the power supply exhaust fan. EPoX uses a 3 phase voltage regulation system to supply clean power to the AMD CPU.
The rear I/O ports provide you will all the needed external expansion ports. On the back are two PS/2 ports for you keyboard and mouse, one RCA based SPDIF out port for digital audio output, one parallel port for legacy printers, one serial port, four USB 2.0 ports with the remaining six being onboard headers, one Gigabit LAN port and three audio ports.
Now we get to the expansion ports. The 8NPA SLI has two PCI Express x16 ports to support SLI graphics. Along with this are two PCI Express x1 slots and three PCI legacy slots. Beside the expansion ports is the nVidia nForce4 SLI single chip chipset. To keep this veritable heat plant cool a small active cooling unit is put to use.
With the nForce 4 SLI chipset comes the built in nVidia Gigabit LAN controller. VITESSE PHY controller chip is used to interface the RJ-45 port with the onboard controller. Another great feature of the nVidia Gigabit LAN controller is the software firewall that is provided by nVidia to keep your PC much safer while on the Internet.
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