Epox 8K7A+ AMD 761 / VIA 686B Hybrid

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The Epox 8K7A+ AMD 761 / VIA 686B Hybrid
Is there a new Sheriff in Town?

By, Marco "BigWop" Chiappetta
August 9, 2001

If you are a hardware enthusiast and have been following the battle between AMD and Intel, you are no doubt familiar with the Athlon and DDR (Double Data Rate) memory.  When the Pentium 4 was first introduced, even the most die-hard AMD fanatics marveled at the impressive memory bandwidth scores Intel's flagship processor, coupled with RDRAM, was capable of.  Not to be outdone, AMD set out to find an alternative to standard SDRAM that could provide increased memory bandwidth to their platform.  AMD, among a few other major players, decided to embrace DDR memory.

To take advantage of the increased bandwidth associated with DDR memory though, a new motherboard chipset had to be designed.  Hence the introduction of the AMD 760 chipset.  The product we will be taking a look at today, the Epox 8K7A+, is a hybrid motherboard equipped with an AMD 761 Northbridge and a VIA 686B Southbridge.  Having no prior experience with an Epox product, I was eager to test the 8K7A+.  Soon after it arrived in our lab, we installed it and ran it through the wringer.  Did the engineers at Epox produce a quality product that does the AMD / VIA / DDR combination justice? Read on and find out...

Specifications / Features of the Epox 8K7A+
Not missing much...


Click any Image for an Enlarged view...
  

Supports Socket A Processors
  • AMD Athlon & Duron
  • AMD-761 + VIA 686B AGPset

I/O Controller

  • 1 Floppy drive controller
  • 120MB ATAPI floppy drive and ZIP support
  • 1 Parallel port (EPP, ECP)
  • 2 Serial ports
  • USB (2 supported onboard. 2 additional as option)
  • PS/2 connectors
  • 1 PS/2 mouse
  • 1 PS/2 keyboard
  • 6 (32-bit) PCI
  • 1 AGP
  • AGP supports 1x, 2x and 4x modes

Award PnP BIOS

  • Flash upgradeable

UltraDMA-100 EIDE Controllers

  • Up to 4 IDE devices
  • Backwards compatible with PIO mode 3/4 & UltraDMA-33/66
  • Extra IDE Port by HPT370/Ultra DMA 66/100 & IDE RAID x 2 (Up to 4 Devices)
200/266MHz Front Side Bus
  • 2x DDR-SDRAM Slots for PC1600/PC2100
  • 1GB max. supported
  • Memory not included

Standard ATX form factor

  • 305mm x 245mm ATX

Built-in AC97 Digital Audio (by VT82C686B)

  • Dual full-duplex Direct Sound channels
  • H/W Sound Blaster Pro for DOS legacy compatibility
  • FM synthesis for legacy compatibility
  • Supports game and MIDI port

Extended Functions

  • Keyboard Power On (KBPO)
  • Supports exclusive USDM (Unified System Diagnostic Manager) under Win9x/NT4 - monitor in Windows system temperatures, voltages, etc.
  • Hardware monitoring functions provided by VIA VT82C686B chipset
  • Supports CPU Vcore & Vio setting by jumpers
  • Supports CPU multiplier by switches
  • Supports CPU clock by BIOS options
  • Hardware sleep/resume
  • P80P Debug (POST) Card onboard design with LED display

THE BUNDLE:

The Epox 8K7A+ comes with a "standard" bundle, including an 80-Wire UDMA/100 IDE cable, a 40-Wire IDE cable, a floppy cable and a secondary USB connector. 

Also included in the box are two excellent user's manuals, one for the board itself, the other explaining how to use the on-board RAID controller.  The bundled CD-ROM contains all of the drivers necessary to get the board up and running along with a copy of Norton Ghost, which is an excellent drive imaging program.

INSTALLATION:

The Epox 8K7A+ installed as easily as any other standard ATX motherboard.  A few standoffs and screws and we were up and running.

                   

Unlike many other motherboards currently available, the 8K7A+ does require the user to set a bank of DIP switches for the CPU multiplier and set jumpers for proper Vcore and Vio voltages (more on this a bit later in the overclocking section).  One great feature that may help some users having installation troubles is the inclusion of an on-board P80P debug (POST) card with an LED readout (visible in all three photos).  Should there be a problem, the LEDs will display a code identifying the cause of the error.  Fortunately for us, we didn't have to reference the error codes.  Our board worked perfectly from the start...

 

The BIOS, Layout and Quality 

 
 

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