EPoX 4PEA800 Motherboard - 800MHz FSB on the cheap

The launch of Intel Canterwood chipset which gives support to the new batch of Pentium 4 processors with 800MHz FSB has been meet mostly with open arms by the industry. However, for those users who cannot afford the high price for Canterwood, EPoX has developed a solution for you all. They've been clever enough to use the cheaper Intel 845PE chipset and unofficially support 800MHz FSB. Can it compete with the Canterwood? Read on as Cameron "Sov" Johnson gives us the answer!
| Apr 27, 2003 at 11:00 pm CDT
Rating: 85%Manufacturer: Epox

EPoX 4PEA800 - Introduction

IntroductionThe Intel Pentium 4 recently took another step in its evolutionary process. Intel has moved on from the 533MHz FSB that we have grown accustomed to and taken a giant leap forward in bus speeds. 800MHz FSB is the new milestone for the Pentium 4 and with this came a need for a new chipset, right? In part, yes and in part, no...Intel introduced the I875P chipset to officially support the 800MHz Pentium 4 CPU. This new chipset brings many great features, but at a rather high price. While it is still some time till Springdale makes it way onto the market, there has to be a medium that can handle the current CPU without costing an arm and a leg - well there is.A few brave companies such as EPoX, Abit and Albatron are three who have taken up the challenge of supporting this new CPU without changing too much. These three companies have taken Intel's last I845 chipset to be made, the I845PE, and ramped up the speed to 800MHz FSB.EPoX has come to the party with the most cost affective Intel Pentium 4 motherboard with support for 800 MHz FSB for the latest Intel Pentium 4 processors. So come with us as we take our first look at an 800MHz FSB Pentium 4 motherboard from EPoX with the 4PEA800.

EPoX 4PEA800 - Specifications

Specifications of the EPoX 4PEA800CPUSupports Intel Pentium 4 1.4GHz ~ 2GHz mPGA 478 CPU WillametteSupports Intel Pentium 4 2.0GHz ~ 2.4GHz mPGA 478 Northwood (400FSB)Supports Intel Pentium 4 2.2GHz ~ 2.66GHz+ mPGA 478 Northwood (533FSB)Supports Intel Pentium 2 3.0Ghz + mPGA 478 Northwood (800FSB)Supports Intel Celeron 1.7GHz ~ 2.2Ghz mPGA 478 (400FSB)ChipsetIntel i845PE with HT i82845PE Northbridgei82801DB SouthbridgeIntel Hub Architecture @ 266MB/sBus Frequency100/133/200MHz Internal400/533/800MHz ExternalNetburst Micro ArchitectureExpansion Slots1 AGP 4x5 PCIExpansion Ports1 PS2 Keyboard Port1 PS2 Mouse Port6 USB 2.0 Ports (2 rear accessible, 4 via expansion bracket)2 Serial Ports 1 Parallel Port3 Stereo Audio Ports 1 Game Port (via expansion bracket)Special FeaturesBIOS overclocking control of FSB, CPU/DRAM/AGP Voltages

EPoX 4PEA800 - Features

Features of the 4PEA800 MotherboardPackage 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 OverclockingWhile 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.

EPoX 4PEA800 - Benchmarks - Test System and Sandra 2003-04-23

Test SystemProcessor: Intel Pentium 4 3.0GHz (800MHz FSB) (Supplied by Spectrum Communications)Memory: 2x 256MB DDR-400 Kingmax (Supplied by Kingmax Australia)Hard Disk: Western Digital WD80 7200RPM (Supplied by Techbuy)Graphics Card: ATI Radeon 9700 Pro (Supplied by ATI)Software Used: SiSoft Sandra 2003, Sysmark 2002, 3DMark03, PCMark2002, Vulpine GLMark 1.1p, Quake 3 Arena, Star Trek Voyager, Jedi Knight II, Comanche 4 Demo, Aquanox and UT 2003SiSoft Sandra 2003SiSoft Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) 2001 is a synthetic windows benchmark that features different tests used to evaluate different PC subsystems.
Compared to Canterwood, the I845PE can't keep up on memory performance. However, running 800MHz FSB compared to the 533MHz FSB shows that I845PE still has some life left in it.

EPoX 4PEA800 - Benchmarks - Real World System Productivity

Real World System ProductivitySysmark 2002Sysmark2002 incorporates the following Internet Content Creation and Office Productivity applications:Office Productivity: Microsoft Word 2002, Microsoft Excel 2002, Microsoft PowerPoint 2002, Microsoft Outlook 2002, Microsoft Access 2002, Netscape Communicator 6.0, Dragon Naturally Speaking Preferred v.5, WinZip 8.0, and McAfee Virus Scan 5.13.Internet Content Creation: Adobe Photoshop 6.01, Adobe Premiere 6.0, Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 7.1, Macromedia Dreamweaver 4, and Macromedia Flash 5.
Sysmark shows improvement over 533MHz FSB even on the I845PE.

EPoX 4PEA800 - Benchmarks - Synthetic 3D and PC Benchmarks

Synthetic 3D and PC3DMark033DMark03 is the latest instalment in the popular 3DMark series. By combining DirectX 9 support with completely new graphics (including the GeForce FX and ATI Radeon 9800), it continues to provide benchmark results that empower you to make informed hardware assessments.
The improved FSB and memory speed of the 4PEA800 gives it advantages over the 533MHz FSB I845PE; however, as expected, Canterwood still is the more dominant force for 800MHz FSB.PCMark2002 ProPCMark2002 is a completely new, multipurpose benchmark, suited for benchmarking all kinds of PCs, from laptops to workstations, as well as across multiple Windows operating systems. This easy-to-use benchmark makes professional strength benchmarking software available even to novice users. PCMark2002 consists of a series of tests that represent common tasks in home and office programs. PCMark2002 also covers many additional areas outside the scope of other MadOnion.com benchmarks.
PCMark gives a good indication of the 800MHz FSB jump with the memory performance.Vulpine GLMark 1.1Vulpine GL mark is a Windows based OpenGL API designed to stress the OpenGL systems of a 3D Accelerator. Patch 1.1p adds in support for ATI Radeon 9800's fast 256bit memory interface optimisations and early support for the nVidia Geforce FX.
The performance gap between the 533 I845PE and 800 I845PE isn't as great in Vulpine.

EPoX 4PEA800 - Benchmarks - OpenGL

Real World OpenGL BenchmarksQuake 3 ArenaQuake 3 Arena is a real-world OpenGL benchmark that we have been using here at TweakTown for quite a while now because it has proven itself to be one of the best gaming benchmarks around to compare a range of different products.
Quake 3 Arena shows a gap between 533MHz and 800MHz FSB versions of the I845PE.Star Trek VoyagerStar Trek Voyager is a real-world OpenGL benchmark. Based on the Quake 3 Arena engine, this game is a OpenGL master utilising DirectX 8. We also apply the new Opt3D patch to allow for the use of Hardware T&L's use as well as new optimisations for AMD Athlon XP and Pentium 4 SSE2
Being based on the Q3A engine, we see similar results.Jedi Knight IIJedi Knight II, Jedi Outcast is a newly released OpenGL game that many have been waiting for. It has much improved graphics over its predecessor. It fully supports advanced shaders, as well as very high texture resolutions and effects. There is one demo included in the multi-player section that is good for benchmarking use. In order to enable the benchmarking mode, you have to make a shortcut to the jk2mp.exe program located in the GameData folder of Jedi Knight 2. You have to put the switch "+set sv_cheats1" (no quotes) at the end of the line in the Target Area so that it looks like this: "C:\Star Wars JK II Jedi Outcast\GameData\jk2mp.exe" +set sv_cheats 1. The demo file used is jk2ffa.
In the last of the OpenGL test EPoX takes the win.

EPoX 4PEA800 - Benchmarks - Direct3D

Real World Direct3DComanche 4 DemoComanche 4 is a helicopter flying game using the DirectX 8.1 graphics interface. It is used to test the memory and 3D sub systems of a motherboard and video processor. Any weaknesses will show up on this baby.
Very slight increase in the 800MHz FSB over the 533MHz FSB in the I845PE is recorded by Comanche 4.AquanoxAquanox is the latest instalment of our benchmark software. This game is based heavily on DirectX 8 and 8.1 advancements and is designed to stress video cards to their ultimate limit, in all the best D3D benchmark to date.
Aquanox shows a great improvement due to the 800MHz FSB on the I845PE.UT 2003Unreal Tournament 2003 continues the success that Unreal Tournament generated as an online game and benchmark. UT2003 pulls all of its weight on to the 3D and Memory subsystems, pushing graphics reality to the maximum is its game, and you need some serious power to pull this one off
In the final test of the day, EPoX pulls another win off due to its increased support for 800MHz FSB.

EPoX 4PEA800 - Conclusion

ConclusionIt is certain that Intel needs to move towards a faster bus and CPU to keep up with the upcoming Athlon64 processor due by late 2003. 800MHz FSB is defiantly the way to go but can you justify the price for the boards? Most of us can't for I875P based boards costing over $350 AU (roughly $200 US) for a simple board. Something else is needed in the meantimeEPoX has come up with a board that is not only cheap but supports the latest in Pentium 4 motherboards. While being stripped of features, this board does come under $250 AU for a well rounded board.Stability and overclocking is that of an extreme motherboard with it maxing out at 250MHz FSB, which being the max speed available in the BIOS. In all EPoX has a board that will satisfy the 800MHz FSB market until the Springdale arrives sometime this year.- ProsFastStableSupport for 800Mhz FSBGreat OverclockingCost Effective- ConsNo extras onboardRating:8.5 out of 10

Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:25 pm CDT

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