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
The conclusion was, at least as far as the chipset is concerned, it was fixed for us even before the test. After all, the pre-production model of the nForce 2 already spoke a clear language and left the KT333 out in the rain. And so its only slightly faster successor, the KT400, doesn't stand a chance when operated with an FSB of 166MHz. In addition to the dual-channel operation, which can provide a few extra MB/s in streaming performance, the 25% better memory latencies in particular help the nForce 2 to win. Dual LAN, FireWire, USB2.0 and Dolby Digital 5.1 also make the nVidia chip in the version with the MCP-T aunbeatable equipment king. Manufacturers of OEM complete systems should long for the day when the nForce 2 with IGP, i.e. with integrated GeForce 4 MX, will finally come onto the market. Because even if it was a good six months ago, there is still no trace of this chipset. Our decision in the fight between the nForce 2 (SPP) and the KT400 is clearly in favor of the nForce 2.
But let's now turn to the individual mainboards and take a look at the current prices right at the beginning ( 3.1.2002/Alternate.de):
EPoX EP-8RDA + : From the first assessment to the last benchmark, the 8RDA + reminded us of the almost legendary 8KHA + (KT266A) with which EPoX made a big name in Germany some time ago: First-class speed, stability and overclocking properties at a 'relatively' low price. The mainboard offers the features that are currently needed, but leaves luxury outside - an inconspicuous workhorse. The board is ideal for anyone who doesn't want to miss the speed of the nForce 2, but who can do without extras such as Serial ATA, Dual LAN and Raid or who would like to upgrade later with additional cards thanks to the six PCI slots. The layout is well thought out and clearly structured. During the entire test phase, the model did not cause us any problems and was particularly impressive in operation with the FSB400/DDR400. The BIOS offers the usual variety of settings for EPoX and, thanks to Magic Flash, is finally updateable under Windows. In particular, the settings for overclocking the CPU and RAM can be changed across the boardconvince. In a nutshell: A mainboard that will give the frugal buyer a lot of pleasure and for this reason will receive our performance award. The standard version of the A7N8X costs € 10 more and has neither FireWire nor a possibly useful sixth PCI slot and has to draw the short straw in a direct comparison.
Asus A7N8X Deluxe : If promising features don't matter, EPoX offers more for your money. And what about when Serial ATA, Dual LAN and OnBoard Dolby Digital Sound should be part of the game from the start? Then the Asus A7N8X is in a league of its own. While the 8RDA + cannot refer to a bigger brother, the A7N8X Deluxe hits the breach across the board: No circuit board currently offers more features in the AMD sector (apart from the Gigabit Ethernet of the A7V8X). While the board was consistently slightly behind the 8RDA + in the gaming tests, it made up ground in 'office use'. However, the differences are negligible in everyday life, so that in the end only the wallet and the desired equipment should play a role. Even if the OC properties in the BIOS do not quite come close to the brute methods of the EPoX boards, they should enable the best possible result within a reasonable framework. Features like Asus Q-FAN and Asus C.O.P. complete the offer. We are still a little undecided about the performance shown during overclocking. Ultimately, only the availability of FSB400 processors will show whether the nForce 2 or the boards in the series can cope with it. Whether the A7N8X performed particularly badly or the 8RDA + performed exceptionally well, we cannot yet make a final assessment. Nevertheless, the A7N8X in the deluxe version can be our hardware hammer with a clear consciencelend.
EPoX EP-8K9A2 + :
And our last candidate, the 8K9A2 +? It is difficult to make a judgment with such overpowering competition and also in the countless hardware forums a view has been established for several weeks: (Almost) no way around the nForce 2. But who needs this 5% performance and in which situations will you even notice them? Without question, the 8K9A2 + is a very good board, which has proven, not least when operating the FSB400/DDR400 with two RAM modules, how much care has gone into the development of this board. Although we do not want to interpret this result as a law for the series, VIA would have officially validated DDR400 long ago. Nevertheless, it amazed us. In addition, the board with Raid and Serial ATA offers features that the 8RDA + did not allow, and together with OnBoard LAN and six-channel sound, an EPoX board with this kind of equipment has seldom come before. Add-ons such as the AirFlow cable and the neon fan could make the board an interesting alternative for technically clumsy and price-conscious buyers, and the biossettings should be sufficient for every bold attempt at overclocking and should please owners of a 'TBred'. In our opinion, the standard version 8K9A2 is less worthwhile. Without the mass of on-board components, it falls behind the 8RDA + not only in terms of performance but also in terms of equipment (LAN, FireWire), which offers the better alternative with just 10 € surcharge. However, if you can do without a few percent performance and do not attach great importance to dual LAN and Dolby 5.1 sound, you might even have found an alternative to the A7N8X Deluxe in the 8K9A2 +. At least when it comes to ATA133 and Serial ATA Raid (0 + 1) as well as OnBoard LAN.
Ultimately, everyone has to decide individually which product best meets their requirements and whywe want to forego an evaluation that is only partially meaningful. Anyone who has read the article carefully will have found their chipset and maybe also their mainboard.
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