nForce 2 and KT400 in a duel: Asus A7N8X Deluxe against EPoX 8RDA + and EP-8K9A2 +
- 1 Foreword
- 2 The chipsets
- 3 Asus A7N8X Deluxe
- 6 EPoX 8RDA +
- 9 EPoX 8K9A2 +
- 12 Test system
- 17 FSB400
- 19 Conclusion
As the reference design provides, EPoX has also soldered the SPP to the board rotated by 45 ° and sits on it like Asus a silent, passive cooling. When looking at the heat sink, however, we initially had doubts as to whether the massive aluminum core with its relatively small cooling fins would effectively cool the chipset. Especially since the base of the cooler doesn't even completely cover the metal heatspreader of the nForce 2. However, our results in the later course of the review will not confirm these concerns and certify that the selected cooling combination performs very well.
The KeepOut Area has EPoX not completely adhered to and so six capacitors protrude into the outer area of the zone. However, currently available fans should fit on the board without any problems. The only thing we are not sure about is the Thermalright SLK-700 and SLK-800, which taper to the side. Unfortunately, we lack the cooler to measure ourselves. EPoX commendably continues to rely on the so-called mouting holes, which AMD has officially removed from its specifications, but which many users still want for the use of large coolers (Alpha Pal, Swiftech). The connections for the processor fan are easily accessible and not far from socket A.
EPoX employs three phases to supply power to the CPU and wants to be on the safe side here. Unfortunately, we cannot prove the opposite, as the mainboard ran through all disciplines without any problems. EPoX has placed the ATX power connector right next to the coils. The cable should be carefully maneuvered around the CPU cooler during installation so as not to interrupt the air flow.
The purple AGP slot adapts perfectly to the color scheme of the 8RDA +. In contrast to Asus, EPoX is limited to a normal version,which means no restrictions for home users and also holds heavy cards in the slot thanks to the locking mechanism. Unfortunately, there is no protection against old 3.3V cards.
The good old tradition at EPoX includes the sixth PCI slot, which you can call your own on the 8RDA +. Fortunately, the mostly useless expansion slots (CNR, AMR) have been dispensed with here. When assembling, however, you should definitely take a look at the distribution of the interrupts in order to avoid complications. The sixth PCI slot can cause problems when changing RAM with long graphics cards. With a little caution, however, the module can be replaced even if the AGP port is in use. And if you do - you just can't have everything :-)
Unfortunately you are looking in vain for a raid controller on the 8RDA + and a variant with such a feature is not planned for the time being. So anyone who has been fooled by the neat '+' at the end of the type designation will get away with nothing. Here EPoX should finally take a uniform path and not mark the addition Raid and sometimes another feature with this appendix from generation to generation. While the two EIDE ports are easily accessible on the edge of the board and close to the hard drives, the (fortunately almost superfluous) floppy port was placed on the lower edge of the mainboard and could lead to a surprise in large cases with cables that are too short. In view of the insignificance of the floppy disk drive, nothing more than a blemish.
Rather incomprehensible to us is the fact that a Serial ATA controller was not used. The range of corresponding hard drives is still manageable and will only reach the masses in the coming months. For a mainboard that is one of the non-plus-ultra in terms of performance and will therefore continue to do its job in the PC for even longer, the future-proof feature of the board would have been appropriate.
Even if the 8RDA + is the deluxe Variant MCP-T which houses nVidia 'Southbridge', EPoX has only implemented one LAN channel with the Realtek 8201BL. The FireWire feature (Realtek 8801B) is also used, however, and we like the placement of the connections behind the PCI slots much better than that of the A7N8X. A socketed bios chip was also used here.
Even if the MCP-T supports the APU (Audio Processing Unit) and can therefore encode Dolby Digital 5.1, EPoX has not activated this feature in the basic version for license reasons (SoundStorm) due to the lack of digital output. If you want to use this function, you have to purchase the optional S/PDIF output separately. The Realtek ALC650 takes on the interface task here as well.
The P80P debug display is also part of the game, which can show errors in the boot process much more clearly than beep codes were previously able to.
The smaller equipment can also be found on the board connections. Here you will find the usual fare.
On the next page: Bios