EPoX began operations in 1995 with the goal of offering performance oriented motherboards at a value price point. EPoX has a long history of providing a wide range of motherboards based upon core logic chipsets from varying manufacturers. EPoX has prided them selves on their research and development capability, and the have generally succeeded in offering high quality products at very competitive prices. More information about the entire line of EPoX products can be found here.


While the 945P has been around for over a year the performance and compatibility of the chipset is still very good and provides a solid platform for those interested in full featured boards that are usually priced in the $65 ~ $95 range. The 945P will eventually be replaced by the recently released P965 chipset which is turning out to be an excellent chipset for the performance oriented crowd. We have to be honest and state that from an enthusiast viewpoint the 945P chipset is not that exciting, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Here we have a chipset that was a solid follow up to the Intel 915, still offers some of the latest technology, provides very good performance for the dollar, and is available in a myriad of configurations. The most important aspect of the Intel 945P is that is simply works without issue. Our article today is a review of how well the EPoX EP-5P945 PRO performs against other budget Core 2 motherboards that we have recently reviewed.


The EPoX EP-5P945 PRO motherboard uses the Intel 945P chipset paired with the Intel ICH7. Our first impression of the motherboard is that it has a very good layout and contains excellent components for the price. The chart above lists the standard feature set available when utilizing the Intel 945P (82945P) and ICH7R (82801GR) chipsets.

However, the EPoX board uses the ICH7 which drops RAID support. The 945P/ICH7 combination enables full support for a single X16 PCI-E graphics slot, up to six X1 PCI-E devices, 4GB memory addressability, and native DDR-2 533/667MHz memory support. This combination also enables support for eight USB 2.0 ports, HD Audio, Gigabit Ethernet support, six PCI slots, four SATA 3.0Gb/s ports, and two IDE devices. The 945P chipset does not support the Pentium EE or XE series of processors.

One of the main design features EPoX engineered into their board is an additional physical PCI Express X16 slot that runs in PCI Express X4 mode. This enables Intel's Graphic Link Interface (GLI) which allows two PCI Express video cards to be installed allowing quad display capability. This additional PCI Express X4 slot runs off the 82081GB (ICH7) chipset so the primary graphics slot still operates at full X16 capability. If the user chooses X4 mode for the secondary graphics slot then the two single PCI Express X1 slots must be disabled via jumpers.

Let's see what this board is capable of and if the 945P is still worth considering.

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  • blckgrffn - Monday, September 11, 2006 - link

    You don't know much about what you are talking about.

    How many PC's do you support? Do you really think people want to wait hours to days while you attempt to retrieve their data? Do you regularly back up 750 GB sata drives somewhere? 500GB drives? Even 400GB drives? I doubt it.

    Do you really think raid 1 shortens drive life? Really?

    I won't try to reason with you further.

    The fact remains that several of my nearly 4 year old Intel based mobo's have native SATA raid capabilities. It's a staple of midrange computing equipment now, and I am very disapointed that intel decided to drive people towards more expensive solutions to get it.

    Nat
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Monday, September 11, 2006 - link

    The simple fact that RAID 1 is not a backup solution period. If you do use RAID 1 as a backup, you're in for a shocking experience when that file you accidently deleted, or that system that suddenly got corupted, and turning to your mirror *gasp* is exactly the same as the original (oh my !). Try explaining to the person why RAID 1 didnt save them then. RAID 1 does not really reduce a disks life no, but if that same drive where in a USB, or eSATA enclosure, it would live much longer, if properly cared for.

    We do enough service work here to know that REAL backup systems involve RAID 5,6, or 10, with a secondary backup of that data elsewhere (not even nessisarily a RAID array). Having worked in the industry since 92, I'd have to agree with you, I havent a clue what I'm talking about *rolls eyes*.

    Now, since we're on a finger pointing expedition, I'd like to point out that generaly, when someone sees a budget product, they dont complain, in open public, about how it sucks because its missing this, or that. Generaly, *someone* just wouldnt buy it, and to be honest, RAID cards cost what now days ? 20 dollars ? Does this mean this RAID controller sucks because its so cheap ? I dont know, but what do you think you're getting when you pay $65usd for a motherboard with built in RAID ? think you're getting something good ? Now, if you're so cheap you wont spend $65-$90usd for a motherboard, why in the hell must you spend another $60+ for a HDD to operate RAID 1?

    Your 4 year old system does NOT even come close to comparring with modern systems, if you still think it does, you're only fooling your self.

    Now I suppose you have yet another quip suggesting I have no idea what I'm talking about.
    Reply
  • blckgrffn - Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - link

    You don't. You're the one who brought up RAID 1 as a backup solution and can't seem to grasp that it is really something else.

    You also haven't considered that when I say "clients" I mean home/education users that don't have massive tape drives or off site storage available to them for business class redundancy and backup.

    If you really think that the ICH7R is "years ahead" of the ICH6R southbridge, good for you. For what it worth, I bought a shuttle 865 PE motherboard brand new for $38 (regularly closer to the $90-100 mark) and it has two seperate raid controllers, and not the junk chipsets like you find on the cheaper add in cards. If you think that the Silicon 3112 controller and the native intel controller are junk, especially when performing something so taxing as RAID 1, think about it some more.

    MTBF. Do you know what that stands for? It sure doesn't seem like it. In a way that is easy to understand, RAID 1 can completely isolate you from HD failure. Get it?

    And my beef with a $90 board, not a $60 one, is that it is missing a now standard feature. If it didn't have gigabit, I wouldn't buy it either. Personally, I like firewire too. What kind of RAID card would I get for $20?

    For smaller disks, using a RAID 1 + backing up data (like movies in progress, etc) makes perfect sense, I'll agree. But drives don't live longer in external enclosures. Where would you get an idea like that? External enclosures get picked up, carried around, bumped, and unplugged much more frequently than one safely housed in a tower would. "Properly cared for"... right. Not to mention they usually aren't as well cooled as a HD in a case would be. Two of my freinds have had their external enclosures get corrupted after being hauled around for so long, I've been lucky but mine normally just sit attached to a tower for weeks/months on end.

    Again, if you have a 750GB SATA drive, how do you reccomend insulating yourself against catastrophic failure? With HDTV becoming mainstream, and many start using these class of drives to store shows and their personal movie colections, this makes the most sense. This HTPC might be one of two or three total computers they have in their home.

    I don't have to explain to anyone why I can't restore a file because of their raid array. "educating my customers" (and myself) makes sure that everyone involved understands the purpose of RAID.

    And you know, when a system gets corrupted, it's an excellent opportunity to really flex your brain and remember why you use partitions.

    If I can buy any $90 AMD board, or any ATI or Nvidia board for Intel and get raid, but not intel based one, doesn't that say something? Besides that, if I save the money on the motherboard, that makes the overall cost of the system, including the RAID array, the same, doesn't it?

    I can point and laugh at a product, and express my disapointment, "in open public" all I want too. I am sure that I am not the only one who sees Intel's glaring shortage of quality and full featured Conroe capable boards as shame. Their are plenty of users who consider $90-$120 motherboard "enough".

    Sigh, whatever man. Evidently you know it all here. You've worked in the PC business enough to know that hard drives never catastrophically fail. Maybe back when HD's were much more expensive or when removeable media was a viable quick and dirty alternative your arguments would hold weight, but when drives are so cheap and so large, it doesn't.

    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - link

    quote:

    And my beef with a $90 board, not a $60 one, is that it is missing a now standard feature. If it didn't have gigabit, I wouldn't buy it either. Personally, I like firewire too. What kind of RAID card would I get for $20?


    The same kind of RAID you would get on a $60 motherboard.

    quote:

    You don't. You're the one who brought up RAID 1 as a backup solution and can't seem to grasp that it is really something else.

    You also haven't considered that when I say "clients" I mean home/education users that don't have massive tape drives or off site storage available to them for business class redundancy and backup.


    You've still managed to elude my point. My point being, that with USB/eSATA capable drive enclosures, RAID 1 isnt even nessisary, you isolate your data from the OS, use the drive only when needed, and it lasts a long long time. Meanwhile, if your data is TRUELY that important, you learn how to properly maintain your hardware, and pick up programs such as Spinrite, to help maintain / spot potential disk problems. I have 3TB storage currently in USB enclosures, and it stores all my data just fine, and is reasonably easy (whats easier than drag/drop file copying ?), and fast. Now, when your OS fails, reguardless if the HDD failed along with it, who cares . . . your data is stored somewhere else.

    [Q}For smaller disks, using a RAID 1 + backing up data (like movies in progress, etc) makes perfect sense, I'll agree. But drives don't live longer in external enclosures. Where would you get an idea like that? External enclosures get picked up, carried around, bumped, and unplugged much more frequently than one safely housed in a tower would. "Properly cared for"... right. Not to mention they usually aren't as well cooled as a HD in a case would be. Two of my freinds have had their external enclosures get corrupted after being hauled around for so long, I've been lucky but mine normally just sit attached to a tower for weeks/months on end.


    I get the idea of enclosed drives lasting longer from owning roughly 3TB of HDD configured as such. If you truely care about your data, you will take care of these drives, only turn them on only when needed, run a program like Spinrite on them once in a while to make sure the drive isnt going south any time soon, and buy enclosures with good fans (ball bearing). Just in case its not readily apparent (for you), isolating your data from the OS will also help increase disk life, just because the drive isnt constantly being accessed, because of swapspace, or other reasons. Also, trust me when I say that enclosed HDDs are MUCH more compact, reliable, and in-expensive (in the long run) than backing up to DvD. Finally its far more in-expencive than running RAID 1 3TB . . . Granted, you'll want to buy the HDDs, and enclosures seperately.

    quote:

    MTBF. Do you know what that stands for? It sure doesn't seem like it. In a way that is easy to understand, RAID 1 can completely isolate you from HD failure. Get it?


    You mean 'MEAN TIME BEFORE FAILURE' ? Seagate lists this as 1.2 million hours on thier site, Western Digital doesnt (atleast for thier Caviar / comparable drives). Raptors aren't even in the same class (enterprise drives), but do have a warranty of 5 years, so I would also assume these drives have atleast a 1.2 million hour MTBF. They also cost alot more than a comparable sized Seagate Barracuda.

    quote:

    Again, if you have a 750GB SATA drive, how do you reccomend insulating yourself against catastrophic failure? With HDTV becoming mainstream, and many start using these class of drives to store shows and their personal movie colections, this makes the most sense. This HTPC might be one of two or three total computers they have in their home.


    You mean setting aside legal implications ? What is so important about a TV show that you HAVE_TO store it on disk for long periods of time ? The simple fact of the matter is, you dont need to. I think that you'll find that most people would rather run RAID 0 in such a situation (or even RAID 5), and I'm one of them, albiet, if i want to watch a TV show, I'll turn the TV on, and watch it, not store it on HDD . . .

    quote:

    I can point and laugh at a product, and express my disapointment, "in open public" all I want too. I am sure that I am not the only one who sees Intel's glaring shortage of quality and full featured Conroe capable boards as shame. Their are plenty of users who consider $90-$120 motherboard "enough".


    You're correct, you_can_do_whatever_you_want. . . As for $90-$120 being enough for a motherbaord, are these the same people who will pay $800 for RAID 1 750GB SATA ?! It just seems very silly to me, that someone would spend entirely too much for a 'reliable' storage system, but they wont pay jack when it comes to the parts that need the most care.

    I dont, nor did I ever claim to know it all, however I DO know that RAID 1 is an antiquinted way of doing what most people can do now days for less money, and more storage. This isnt to say that there isnt a place for RAID 1, but in the home there are far better ways to ensure your data will be protected. In a data center, maybe not.

    Reply
  • blckgrffn - Tuesday, September 12, 2006 - link

    I think that we can fully agree to disagree here :-)

    This argument has been one of the special olympic variety :-p

    Take it easy,
    Nat
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Monday, September 11, 2006 - link

    Well, I'm not telling you what you must buy, all I'm saying is that RAID often leads to premature drive failure, and can be avoided by spending a little more money on a drive that has a 5 year warranty (just about all Seagates with exception of white label drives). Do you think Seaate drives go bad as often when used / maintained properly comparred to other brands with a 1 year warranty ? I would beg to differ . . .

    Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Monday, September 11, 2006 - link

    This board would be a no brainer if it included RAID.

    It would also no longer be a "budget board".

    In the same vein, I'm sorry it doesn't have FireWire, but I'm not surprised by it.
    Reply
  • mostlyprudent - Monday, September 11, 2006 - link

    Thanks for the review. I appreciate the wide range of motherboard/chipset/CPU/GPU reviews provided by AT.

    Going back to a discussion of price from the recent review of the Abit AW9D-Max board, it still seems difficult to justify a $180 spread between a budget and a high end Core 2 Duo compatible board. Are the $270 baords really 3x better than this board? I suppose there is even an argument that this board is a little over-priced for an entry level board. I am hoping that we get some good offerings from Nvidia and ATi to bring prices to a more reasonable level. I know nForce 5xx boards are on their way, but anything in the near future from ATI?
    Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Monday, September 11, 2006 - link

    It's already been reported that ATI is backing out of the Intel chipset market, partly due to their acquisition by AMD. Reply
  • mostlyprudent - Monday, September 11, 2006 - link

    I had read numerous reports in which the authors supsected that ATI's acquisition by AMD would lead to their departure from the Intel chipset market, but I had not seen any confirmation of those suspicions. Reply

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