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Five i845E mainboards in the test: who will win?

Five i845E mainboards in the test: who will win?

Equipment

When it comes to equipment, Epox is a little quieter. If you want to own a wealth of features on your board, you are probably wrong here. So you have to use both OnBoard LAN and Firewireand do without Bluetooth. Epox is limited to the USB2.0 ports integrated in the ICH4 and otherwise does not provide any new connections. As on the IT7, the AC97 codec of the Realtek ALC650 provides 6-channel sound. However, you will look in vain for a S/PDIF input or output. The EP-4BEAR does have a corresponding S/PDIF In/Out connection, but Epox does not include a slot cover.

Epox EP-4BEAR - connections - front
Epox EP-4BEAR - Connections - back

A special feature that owners of older power supplies in particular will be pleased about is the fact that Epox is not based on Intel -Specifications and thus dispenses with the 2x2-pin 12V connector, which should ensure a constant power supply to the CPU. But you don't have to do without extras entirely. Epox uses the HighPoint HPT372 raid controller. Even if it is just a simple raid controller and not the high-end version as offered by the IT7, this HighPoint controller also offers the advantage that IDE hard drives can be operated without a built-up raid array .

Epox EP-4BEAR - HighPoint Raid
Epox EP-4BEAR - ICH4 - Raid
Epox EP-4BEAR - Board2

The layout of the EP-4BEAR is well thought out and all important connections are on the edge of the board. The only exception is the power connector, which has a somewhat atypical position. We can only guess whether this is due to the omission of the 12V plug.

Epox EP-4BEAR - Raid and Debug LED
Epox EP-4BEAR - Slots
Epox EP-4BEAR - Socket

We still have to chalk two criticisms of the EP-4BEAR. At least in our test model, the passive Northbridge cooler was loose and connected to it without a thermal pad. However, the cooling was completely sufficient during our tests.

Epox EP-4BEAR - Game module
Epox EP-4BEAR - Socket and RAM slots
Epox EP-4BEAR - USB module

Important !: One point of criticism relates to the BIOS from June 28th. 02. If you let the BIOS choose the RAM speed itself, or if you set it manually to 266MHz, the DDR-RAM is only addressed with 200MHz in both cases, which of course causes considerable performance losses. The actually newly touted feature of this BIOS provides help. So it should support a DDR RAM clock of 354MHz. One choosesmanually select this option in the BIOS, the RAM is suddenly addressed with the normal 266MHz. Thus, the new function is invalid for the time being, but you can at least eliminate the bug in the BIOS yourself. After consulting Epox, we were assured that this problem would be addressed. In the meantime, the BIOS from June 28, 2002 is no longer available for download. Shortly after our request, we received a beta bios from Epox that no longer contained this error. The DDR RAM was operated correctly at 266MHz and achieved the performance characteristic for it. Perhaps this version actually offers 354MHz for the DDR-RAM in the final version, which of course could release a lot of power if you have a suitable DDR-RAM. A release of a new BIOS version can therefore be expected every day, as Epox recognized the problem and also fixed it in the beta BIOS available to us.

On the next page: Stability