Epox 8RDA+ nForce2 Motherboard Review
Today we're going to be checking out
Epox's take on the nForce2 SPP; the 8RDA+ motherboard. Based on the same nForce2 SPP (System
Platform Processor) you can already guess that that the Epox 8RDA+ is going to be
fast, but will it be heads and shoulders above other nForce2 motherboards out
there? Read on and we shall see...
For starters, what exactly does the Epox 8RDA+ have
to offer? Is it chocked full of USB and firewire ports, or is it just a plain
and simple mainboard solution? Well thanks to the nForce2-128 SPP Northbridge
chipset, the Epox 8RDA+ supports any 200/266/333 MHz based Athlon processor, even the
upcoming Barton based Athlon's so upgrade paths are clean and simple.
There are three DIMM slots for a maximum of 3 GB of
PC1600/2100/2700/3200* (* there is no JEDEC PC3200 standard) memory, but since
the NF2 is able to take advantage of dual channel DDR, you'll really just want
to populate the first two slots with identical memory types/sizes.
The Epox 8RDA+ also includes other goodies like on
board IEEE 1394, 10/100 LAN and 5.1 audio. In terms of expansion room, there are
six PCI slots and a 4x/8x AGP port with a maximum AGP interface
bandwidth of 2.1GB/second.
Ships with the following:
- IDE ATA66/100 Cable
- FDD Cable
- Driver CD
- Utilities CD
- User Manual
- Quick Install Guide
- Rear I/O Back Panel
Game Port Bracket
IEEE 1394 Bracket
USB 2.0 Bracket
Epox haven't adopted any flashy colours for
their PCB, preferring to keep it simple and stick with green.
most of the features we now come to expect based on chipset level support, it has become
very inexpensive for manufacturers to include them - no extra hardware is required
for USB, LAN or Firewire support as is the case with the Epox
I personal like that more and
more manufacturers are including on board 10/100LAN as standard equipment,
with broadband becoming more popular, saving $20 on a NIC card is like a nice little
"rebate." If you use high bandwidth external devices, the 8RDA+ supports two ports
for Firewire and a total of six for USB 2.0.
The layout of the components and sockets on the Epox 8RDA+ is pretty good; there's nothing that
really gets in the way of long expansion cards, or other parts in a
small mid-tower case. Sure, the power connector isn't in the greatest location in terms
of CPU airflow, but being close to the MOSFETs means a more stable voltage supply
to the processor.
With a total of six PCI slots, you shouldn't have
any problems in terms of future expansion on the 8RDA+. If you can't fit
everything you want into this motherboard, you won't be able to with any other
board on the market.The Port80 diagnostics card
on the lower right hand corner is an invaluable tool for anyone
who likes to tinker with their system. If you think you're have a hardware
problem, just look at the Port80 card and it'll tell you whether something is broken
with a quick reference to the manual.
nForce2 chip is cooled with a rather large passive heatsink, it would have
been more useful if thermal paste had been used instead of the rather thick
pink thermal pad. Incidently, from what we have seen thus far in nForce2 boards,
it doesn't seem like IDE RAID is being supported on very many models at all
which is a shame.