Epox 4PDA2+ v2.0 - HotHardware

Epox 4PDA2+ v2.0

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Epox 4PDA2+ V2 Motherboard Review
One Step Closer to Near-Perfection

"Burned" in by Robert Maloney
September 3, 2003

         

Today on HotHardware we have another Springdale-based motherboard to add to the mix. Intel has made some recent comments about "shutting down" the PAT enhancements being done by various OEMs on the i865PE.  However, today's entry, the Epox 4PDA2+ Version 2, has slipped under the wire, with their "Accelerated Memory Mode" (AMM) still a major part of the package. While we did not have a chance to sample the earlier version of this board, for the most part we have heard positive comments about its features and performance. For the second revision, Epox has tweaked the AMM a bit, added a few new features like RAID 1.5 support and a SATA hot-plug bracket, and then gave the board a new color scheme to boot. Let's take our first look at the second version of this fully capable motherboard and see what we can find.

     
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Specifications & Features of the Epox 4PDA2+ v2
Epox takes a second look at the 4PDA2+

CPU SUPPORT

  • Intel® Pentium® 4 Processor with Hyper-Threading Technology

  • Socket 478 Pentium 4 Processors from 1.7GHz up to 3.2+GHz

  • Supports 800MHz, 533MHz or 400MHz Front Side Bus

CHIPSET

  • Intel® 82865PE Memory Controller Hub (MCH)

  • Intel® 82801ER I/O Controller Hub (ICH5/R)

SYSTEM MEMORY

  • Four 184-pin DDR DIMM sockets

  • DDR266/333/400 support (DDR400 only with 800MHz FSB CPU)

  • Supports 128-bit dual channel memory architecture

  • 4GB maximum system RAM (unbuffered)

BIOS

  • Flash EEPROM with Award BIOS

  • PowerBIOS with Aggressive Memory Mode

  • ACPI 2.0 compliant

  • S3 (Suspend to DRAM) sleep-state support

  • SMBIOS (System Management BIOS) v2.2 compliant

  • Supports Power failure recovery

HARDWARE MONITOR

  • Monitors CPU temperature and overheat warning/auto shutdown

  • Monitors CPU/1.5V/5VSB/VBAT/3.3V/5V/±12V voltages

  • Read back capability that displays temperature, voltage and fan speed

  • Option to display PC Health during POST

AUDIO FEATURES

  • Six channel audio with analog and digital output using CMI9739A AC'97 CODEC

  • AC'97 v2.2 complaint

  • Supports 2 channel and 6 channel output from rear panel jacks

ONBOARD LAN

  • Broadcom BCM5705/5788 LAN Chipset

  • Integrated 1Gbps Fast Ethernet controller

ONBOARD FIREWIRE (1394a)

  • Agere FW323 Firewire controller supporting 3 ports

  • IEEE-1394a compliant with up to 400Mbps bandwidth

ACCELERATED GRAPHICS PORT (AGP)

  • AGP 3.0 compliant slot

  • Supports AGP 8x/4x cards with Fast Write Transactions

  • Only 1.5V AGP cards are supported

  • Supports 3.3V AGP card protection

LEGACY I/O CONTROLLER

  • Winbond W83627HF LPC I/O Controller with floppy, printer, game, serial, and SIR interface

SERIAL ATA/RAID INTERFACES

  • ICH5/R supports two Serial ATA (SATA) devices with up to 150MB/s transfer rate

  • ICH5/R supporting RAID 0,1 configurations

  • Silicon Image SIL3122A chip supports an additional two SATA devices

  • SIL3122A also supporting RAID 0.1 configurations

  • SIL3122A chip supports external storage connection using bracket

ATA RAID INTERFACE

  • HighPoint Technologies HPT372 RAID Controller

  • Two IDE ports supporting up to 4 Ultra-DMA133 devices

  • Supports RAID 0,1,0+1, and 1.5 configurations

  • RAID 1.5 delivers RAID 0 performance and RAID 1 data security

PCI IDE INTERFACE

  • 2 IDE bus master (UDMA33/ATA66/ATA100) IDE ports

  • Supports up to four ATAPI devices

  • Supports PIO Mode 3,4 Enhanced IDE and ATAPI CD-ROM

  • Bus mastering reduces CPU utilization during disk transfer

REAR PANEL I/O PORTS

  • 4 USB 2.0/1.1 ports

  • 1 DB-9 serial ports

  • 1 DB-25 parallel port

  • 1 mini-DIN-6 PS/2 mouse port

  • 1 mini-DIN-6 PS/2 keyboard port

  • 3 audio jacks: line-in, line-out,  and Mic-in

  • 1 RJ-45 LAN Port

I/O CONNECTORS

  • 2 connectors for 4 additional external USB 2.0/1.1 ports

  • 3 1394a (FireWire) connectors

  • 1 front audio connector for external line-out and Mic-in jacks

  • 2 internal audio connectors (CD-in and AUX-in)

  • 1 S/PDIF output connector

  • 4 IDE connectors

  • 4 SATA connectors

  • 1 floppy connector

  • 1 Game/MIDI connector

  • 1 Serial Port (COM2) connector

  • 2 ATX power supply connectors

  • 3 fan connectors for CPU fan, NB fan, and chassis fan

  • 1 80 port debug connector

EXPANSION SLOTS

  • 1 AGP 3.0 slot supports 8X/4X modes (1.5V support only)

  • 5 32-bit PCI 2.3 slots with Bus Master support

SPECIAL FEATURES

  • 80 Port Debug LED

  • Provides two-digit POST code during boot to help identify problems

FORM FACTOR

  • 4 layers, ATX form factor

  • 30.5cm x 24.5cm


Manuals, Software, and included components
Fully stocked and ready for anything

     

The effort required to simply remove the inner box from the shell, was our first hint that there was plenty of good stuff included with the Epox 4PDA2+.  Our first stop was with the literature and software.  There were no less than four separate manuals, one each to cover the motherboard setup, IDE RAID configurations, SATA RAID, and the included Magic Flash and USDM monitoring software.  The RAID and SATA drivers came on two labeled floppy disks, making installation of a new system that much easier.  The CD came with all of the expected drivers, as well as Norton Ghost 7 and PC-Cillin 2002.  It's not common practice for us to mention the manual beyond the fact that it is indeed there, but we wanted to take a moment and point it out this one time, at least.  The User's Manual that came with the 4PDA2+ was easily one of the best written and most informative manuals we have laid our eyes upon.  Each motherboard component and BIOS screen was covered in such detail that even we learned a few things.

The good news didn't stop there.  Matching the burgundy IDE RAID ports were two burgundy rounded IDE cables.  However, there were no other IDE cables, matching or not, for use with the standard IDE ports.   Also included was a floppy cable (strangely, not rounded) and two sets of Serial ATA data transfer and power cables.  To complete the package, we found a bracket with 2 FireWire ports, the I/O shield, and another bracket that had a game port as well as another familiar looking but initially unrecognizable port on it.   Further investigation led us to discover that this was the SATA connection for use with external devices.  We haven't seen too many external SATA devices on the market yet ourselves but it can't hurt to be prepared.

Layout of the 4PDA2+ and BIOS screens

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