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EPoX 9NDA3+ Socket 939 (nForce3 Ultra) Motherboard Review

By: Mike Wright | NVIDIA Chipset in Motherboards | Posted: Feb 3, 2005 5:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 9.0%Manufacturer: EPoX

The Motherboard Continued



The IDE and FDD ports are situated along the upper edge of the far end of the motherboard. The IDE ports are ideally located for most standard sized enclosures but the FDD port could prove troublesome for those with very tall cases. The included cable is pretty reasonably sized and problems should be minimal but it was a small point that needed to be mentioned.


For those (like myself) who have migrated to SATA drives, the ports are also located in a very user-friendly location. Pictured above you can see two of them just above the chipset. The other two are not pictured but are just to the left of the chipset. Being close to the lower portion of the board allows you to easily handle the cable management aspect of custom system building.


If you have sharp eyes you probably made note of the 2-digit LED display by the floppy drive port. This is something that EPoX has used for years and it is still a welcome addition to any motherboard. This display shows error codes if you have problems with stability or system lockdowns. Just bounce the displayed error code with the manual and you will have a good starting place for your troubleshooting steps. This is one of those times when dated features are still a good idea.



In case you ever wondered why motherboard manufacturers make add-on PCI panels, just take a look right here. With the amount of connections located on the backplate, it is no wonder we have run out of room. A large block of that space is occupied by the built in audio ports that support upwards of eight channels of sound. Add to this the standard parallel port and four USB ports and we're about to run out of room. Of course, all those ports just mean more functionality for the user.



And speaking of functionality, this is a quick peek at the extra USB and Firewire ports available. Like many other manufactures, EPoX is going with a color-coded layout that makes it a snap to get set up right the first time.



For those wanting to try their hand at Gigabit Ethernet, the EPoX 9NDA3+ uses the Vitesse SimpliPHY Ethernet controller. It automatically detects the network connection and sets itself to 10/100/1000 Kb networking speeds. While I did not perform any overall networking speed tests, I noted Internet speeds comparable to other boards I've used in the past with no degradation of performance or speed.



This is still something that amuses me; a VIA chip mounted on an nVidia motherboard. Since the nForce3 chipset has no native support for Firewire, motherboard makers had to do something to add this feature.


Enter the little VIA VT6307 chip that does a very good job handling the IEEE1394 requirements of the power user. This gives you the ability to handle those video editing chores that often have components using this method of connection. Also coming out in the recent past are external hard drives that make very good use if this port.


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