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Epox EP-8K9A2+


Epox EP-8K9A2+

Introduction.

Epox over the past two years have consistently produced some of the best high-end Socket A motherboards available to end-users. Boards such as the superb EP-8KHA+ (VIA KT266A) and EP-8K3A+ (VIA KT133A) stand out particularly amongst a group of very strong motherboards. During this period VIA have been constantly refining and releasing new versions of their Socket A chipsets and we have seen chipsets range from the original KT133 through to the superb DDR SDRAM compatible KT266 and latterly KT333 chipsets. These chipsets have established a reputation for speed and stability for VIA which could only have been dreamt about in the days of Super Socket 7 chipsets such the MVP3.

Now in late 2002 VIA have launched their latest DDR SDRAM compatible Socket A chipset in the form of the KT400. Originally to be called the KT333A, the KT400 built upon the existing foundation of the KT333 by adding support for the new (and still unofficial) DDR 400 memory standard. DDR 400 SDRAM is designed to have a bus speed of 200 MHz (400 MHz DDR) as opposed to the current 166 MHz speed of the current DDR 333 memory standard.

The KT400 chipset has now been on the market since October, but early versions were beset by poor performance and in many cases it was comprehensively out-performed by the soon to be superseded KT333. VIA knew that they had a problem and revised the KT400 to address these issues. Now the new boards have the revised KT400 NorthBridge controller and performance is much improved.

As is normal for Epox, their high-end Socket A boards have built up a strong reputation for speed, stability and innovation. The EP-8K9A2+ is no stranger to innovation in that two big new features are present in the form of Serial ATA, and a BIOS setting which can modify the previously locked clock multiplier of the AMD Athlon XP. What remains to be seen is how much of an impact these features make to what promises to be a strong board from Epox.

To see how the EP-8K9A2+ fared, read on...

VIA KT400.

Essentially the VIA KT400 is an enhancement of the KT333 chipset with an improved memory controller that supports PC-3200 DDR SDRAM. Like the KT333, the KT333 features support for 133 MHz Front Side Bus operation (266 DDR) and now the new 166 MHz FSB for the latest "Thoroughbred" based AThlon XP chips, 3 GB of PC-2700 SDRAM and AGP 4X.

The South Bridge controller is the VIA VT235 chip which features support for U/DMA 133 Hard Drive support and also support for up to 4 USB devices to be attached. The 686B also provides support for an AC97 audio codec, a feature which is becoming increasingly popular with many new motherboard designs.


Specifications.



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Review Posted 18th December 2002

© Copyright, Anthony Barrett 2001/2002.