Epox 9NDA3+: A New Socket 939

by Wesley Fink on 10/25/2004 12:01 AM EST
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  • morkys - Monday, December 20, 2004 - link

    Wednesday, 24 November 2004
    ECN 30824
    EP-9NDA3+
    9ND34B10.BIN
    6800h
    ** Solve USB device resume fail from S4 mode.
    ** Patch system cole booting fail (hang up at POST FF h)when FSB over clock on SATA PHY M/B.
    ** Support DDR400 for double banks DIMM.

    Has this improved anything for anyone?

    I was stoked to get this or the MSI Neo2 Plat but there's always problems with new stuff. There's always problems with most stuff, but I may just go socket 462 for now if Epox or MSI nForce3 isn't trouble free. I was thinking of the Gigabyte but the NXP is too expensive and the non- NXP is still troublesome for some people.

    ?
    Reply
  • staypuffmarshallowman - Thursday, December 09, 2004 - link

    I purcased this mobo a week ago and it is defective....sent back as RMA yesterday. I could not achieve any higher than 20Kbps internet connection over my dsl! Furthermore, i had several (10-20) different post codes and i haven't done any overclocking at all. While this is EXTREMELY frustrating, I am hoping my replacement board will be fine. I am really concerned about your findings with the 4 dimms running only at 333!!! Please let me know if they are able to fix this.

    I don't want to give up on epox yet. My last board or thiers rocked. But this experience has sent me close to the end of our relationship.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, October 28, 2004 - link

    Ned -
    I suspect you are working at 200 with 4 dimms because your 256MB are single-sided dimms. Those are usually no issue for any of the boards. Our standard 4-dimm memory test is with 4 512MB DS dimms or a total of 8 sides. That still is not working on the Epox which overrides the DDR400 and resets the speed to DDR320 with 4 DS dimms.

    Just to be sure I have just retested the same CPU and the same 4 dimms on 3 other 939 boards. All 3 handled DDR400 with 4 dimms just fine, as confirmed with CPU-Z and SiSoft Sandra.
    Reply
  • NedFlanders - Thursday, October 28, 2004 - link

    Mine board worked out of the box with four DIMMS and with the new BIOS too. I am using 4*256 Kingston HyperX. Even though BIOS says 200 it boots at 202 (RAM 404, FSB at 2020 mhz). I have confirmed the speed with CPUID & SAndra. I OC's it to 220 but just to try it. I'm not really into that. It worked fine.

    in addition to the parts i already mentioned,
    i have 6800GT, 2 WD120 (IDE0, IDE1) and a 450watt PSU, athlon 64 3200.

    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, October 28, 2004 - link

    I have tested with the new 10/26 and 10/28 BIOS and the issues still are not fixed. Results remain the same as reported in this review.

    Below is the email I sent to Epox:

    "I have retested the Epox 9NDA3+ with the new BIOS and the 4 dimm issue is NOT fixed. No matter what I set in BIOS with 4 dimms the system boots at DDR320 at 2T (The BIOS states on boot DDR400@166, but CPU-Z reports actual CPU speed as 160x2). I have tested with:

    4x512MB Corsair 3200XL v1.1
    4X512MB OCZ PC3200 Platinum Rev.2
    4X512MB G. Skill TCCD
    4X512MB Corsair CMX512-4400C25PT (DDR550)

    I also tested each of the 4 memories at SPD timings at DDR400 and at a forced 3-3-3-10 at DDR400, even though all 4 are rated at DDR400 2-2-2-5. Same results in both sets of tests. In addition the Epox still hangs on reboot more than 50% of the time. The PS is a OCZ PowerStream 520W. Memory Timings were checked with CPU-Z version 1.24 which is a free download at www.cpuid.com. Memory Speed was confirmed in SiSoft Sandra 2004.

    Do you have any further suggestions?"
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, October 27, 2004 - link

    Epox has just sent a revised BIOS dated 10/26 and called 9ND34A26 to correct the 4-dimm issue and reboot issues with the Epox. As I soon as I complete tests with the new BIOS I will post an update to the review. Reply
  • NedFlanders - Tuesday, October 26, 2004 - link

    my ep-9nda3+ is in. it overclocks well, cpu is cool and no problems with 4DIMMS at 200 Reply
  • ThePlagiarmaster - Tuesday, October 26, 2004 - link

    Wesley,

    If divx 5.1.1 is so optimized for Intel, why does hardocp show Intel losing by 20%?? You need to run tests with two different frontends. DVD2AVI for AMD and Xmpeg for Intel. Unless someone has a better suggestion for Intel (Xmpeg always caused them to win no matter what encoder was used). It's a small change and would give a MUCH more accurate picture of what we'd see in the realworld. Nobody comes home with a shiny new PC and runs they crappiest frontend they can find for their given cpu. Especially when they are both free for the taking.

    Did a bit more reading, it appears AutoGK is the only difference between your article and hardocp's usage. You should NOT be using this for AMD if it throws away a 20% victory and hands the lead to Intel. Nobody would do that at home. That big of a margin is akin to throwing away 3-4 cpu speed grades these days! I'd further say you shouldn't be using it for Intel either. It appears to slow them down compared to Xmpeg (who even link to Intel on their website).

    With all of these being free, why wouldn't the user want to pick the fastest for their chosen cpu? I see no reason why you couldn't run the same chapter with the same settings on each frontend for the different cpus. It's not like your adding a test, you're just changing a frontend for ONE of the tests. Right now, you're showing us a situation none of us would come home and run. We'd all take the faster route with different front ends for BOTH cpus.

    Divx 5.1.1 is NOT heavily optimized for Intel or they would win no matter the frontend. Using this codec and DVD2AVI as a frontend Intel loses by 20% (as shown at hardocp's article). Clearly it's more about the frontend in this case than the codec.
    Reply
  • thebluesgnr - Tuesday, October 26, 2004 - link

    I think this review is very well written. Only disagree with one thing:

    "The locations of the SATA connectors are a huge improvement over the locations on the nF3-250 Reference Board."

    I think this location is the opposite of that. On the reference board it's probably harder to install SATA drives, but this is something you do once or twice; the location used by EPoX makes it impossible to use the SATA ports with some graphics cards.
    Reply
  • Term - Tuesday, October 26, 2004 - link

    #26, are you 100% positive that Doom3 requires DX?

    If i remember correct I don't have DX installed and it runs just fine.
    Reply
  • TrogdorJW - Monday, October 25, 2004 - link

    Wes (#23) - I'm not 100% positive, but I'm almost sure that UT2K3/UT2K4 are DX8.1 in terms of the 3D code, but they require DX9 in order to run. Sort of like how Doom 3 is an OGL game but requires DX9 for input/output functions. AFAIK, no Unreal engine game has shipped with DX9 features, but that will probably change soon.

    You could even make the argument that most of the UT engine is still DX7, with only a few DX8 additions. What does that mean? That pixel and vertex shaders are not absolutely necessary to get great graphics. Useful? Yes. Required? Nope. :)
    Reply
  • AtaStrumf - Monday, October 25, 2004 - link

    I had 2 Epox nForce 2 Ultra 400 boards (got a new one after I RMA-ed the first one) and not one worked perfectly. That was reason enough for me to stay clear of Epox boards from that moment on. After reading tihs review, it seems that they still send out unfinished/not properly tested products, so I sugest to all to pick some other brand, because something is systematicly wrong at Epox. They are just not a good choice for the enthusiast anymore.

    ABIT seems to have improved a bit though, but I don't garantee anything.
    Reply
  • NedFlanders - Monday, October 25, 2004 - link

    any new info on the FSB for the ep-9nda3+ when using 4 sticks? Epox's website has no owner's manual for this board on ANY of their worldwide websites. No BIOSs either. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, October 25, 2004 - link

    #22 -
    My UT2004 package says "DirectX version 9.0b or higher required." The website says DirectX 8.1. If someone can provide a definitive answer and a link I will change the category.
    Reply
  • CrystalBay - Monday, October 25, 2004 - link

    Hi Wes, I'm just curious why UT2k4 is considered a DX9 benchmark ? Reply
  • Bonesdad - Monday, October 25, 2004 - link

    I think the review was quite good. I did not get the sense that this is a "positive" review or even a wholly "negative" review. I think you did an admirable job of giving readers your observations and letting them make the final purchase decision. Which is the goal of a good review.

    Based on current information about this board, I will skip it too. I'll stick with my 8RDA+ until the field is more populated with 939s.
    Reply
  • NedFlanders - Monday, October 25, 2004 - link

    my Epox 9kda3+ is en route. The whole reason why i waited for 939 was to use all of my RAM sticks (4). Should I just return this thing un-opened to newegg or is there the potential that i can run 4 256 hyperX's at 400?

    Thanksdidilyanks
    Reply
  • Gholam - Monday, October 25, 2004 - link

    Does Cool'n'Quiet work on this board with four DIMMs? Because 8KDA3+ has this annoying problem with Cool'n'Quiet not working with two or three DIMMs present... Reply
  • ksherman - Monday, October 25, 2004 - link

    Thanks for changing the article title Wesley! Now its more representative of the review ;) Reply
  • LocutusX - Monday, October 25, 2004 - link

    This board seems like "too little, too late". Still, I think AT has done a good job on this review as it has indicated where most of the problem areas lie so people can decide for themselves if its an important issue or not. As for me, I`d skip this one.
    Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Monday, October 25, 2004 - link

    I agree with #7 (The Plagiarmaster) that something needs to be done to improve the video encoding tests. Results with a given codec can vary considerably for a processor-family (Athlon 64, Prescott etc) depending on the front-end app used (VirtualDub, AutoGK, DVD2AVI etc).

    Its not too important for mobo articles like this where you should only really be comparing the results with the same CPU on other mobos, but its critical to the CPU articles like the recent 4000+ and FX-55 review.

    It would be better for those to take some time to find the best performing popular front-end app for a particular codec and processor family, and then use that in all tests for that processor type and codec. So for the DivX tests you might use a different front-end for the Prescott to what is used for the A64 depending on which was found to be fastest. Same for XviD depending on what was fastest for that. The codec should obviouslly be the same for all CPUs else the test would be invalid, only the front-end app could differ. At the end of the day both will produce the same results regardless of the front-end so it makes sense to use whichever is best suited to a given CPU, as the current results with only one app in isolation may be quite misleading. If you don't like the idea of using different apps depending on the CPU, then the only alternative for presenting useful video encoding results is to repeat the test several times with different apps in all CPU articles.

    And further to earlier comments, I could not recommend a mobo with the issues the Epox has on the hope that things will improve in a future BIOS revision. I might recommend it *when things have improved*, but I would never do so before. As it stands I'd steer well clear of this board.
    Reply
  • rickcfer - Monday, October 25, 2004 - link

    I tried to manually set the speed, but the board would not even post until I removed the second set of dimms. Corsair xlls 3200 pro 512 dimms. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, October 25, 2004 - link

    #13 - On the K8N Neo2 you need to set the BIOS memory timings to DDR400 when you use 4 dimms. If you leave it on auto it sets 333 with 4 dimms. Reply
  • rickcfer - Monday, October 25, 2004 - link

    "However no one should need to live with a board that forces DDR333 with 4 dimms when no other 939 board does it."

    The MSI Neo2 Platinum does it too. It's documented in their manual. How did you guys get around this? I filled all dimms and it defaulted to DDR333. Bios was 1.2
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, October 25, 2004 - link

    #7 - dvd2avi shows better results with AMD than AutoGK, even though Auto GK is based on the dvd2avi engine. AMD also performs better with XVid than Divx, since Divx has many optimizations for Intel. Another huge difference is the video clip used for encoding. Certain video clips generate much higher or lower frame rates than our standard video clip. The Star Wars clip we used in the past is about 20% faster on AutoGK than the longer Sum of All Fears we now use.

    For all of these reasons we use a standard procedure with a standard file for encoding tests.

    #8 - The poor location of the ATX/12V contrasts with the best layout I've seen for the slots and SATA. I prefer the ATX upper right edge but other A64 boards also use this layout and at least there is plenty of room around the connectors. I think Epox would disagree with you that this is a positive review.

    #11 - There are some other great OC boards that have issues with reboot freezes. I had to balance the fact the Epox was one of the best 939 overclockers we've tested with the annoying reboot issue. Some can live with that, but I couldn't. However no one should need to live with a board that forces DDR333 with 4 dimms when no other 939 board does it. If you don't use 4 dimms the board may be acceptable to some.

    I'm surprised that I point out two glaring faults on this board, qualify all my comments in light of those faults, and you still don't think I've been negative enough. I tried to keep in mind this board could become a great 939 board with a decent BIOS update and then the review would be totally misleading. It could be a great board, but it isn't there yet.

    I believe readers need the full perspective to make informed buying decisions, although we all know great put-down lines are more entertaining.
    Reply
  • tagej - Monday, October 25, 2004 - link

    One of the last lines in the review: "The Epox is a great 939 choice now if you will only run 2 DIMMs and you can deal with the annoying reboot problems."

    Does this stike anyone else as crazy? How in the world is freezing and other reboot issues acceptable to anyone? Sounds to me like right now this board belongs on the junk heap, not in my PC -- at least until the issues get fixed, presumably with a bios update or two.
    Reply
  • tagej - Monday, October 25, 2004 - link

    With the nforce 4 chipset boards just around the corner, it's probably wise to simply wait for those. Unless you have a significant investment in a video card you want to protect (which a lot of people do), you can just go straight to nv4 instead of getting one of these nv3 boards. If you have a great vid card you want to keep using, then nv3 939 is a relatively good path. Reply
  • jAMBAZZ - Monday, October 25, 2004 - link

    Hi Anand, please regard the fact that many people wont/dont buy the expensive RAM you are testing with. As A64 will do just as fine using HTT/Ram dividers and 200 mhz PC3200 ram at very tight timings (2-2-2-5) and is not like the previous Athlon (XP) model.

    As a note to this Epox review, it would be very nice indeed if you didnt use 1:1 HTT/RAM since you would then be able to show what kind of FSB this mobo truly allows for. You did the same in the A64 value and overclocking article which is a shame imho.

    Best Regards Mikkel Nielsen.
    Reply
  • JonathanYoung - Monday, October 25, 2004 - link

    I've noticed this a lot on this and other hardware review websites... it makes me think that motherboard companies pay these sites to review their products. What I'm talking about are comments such as "The basic layout of the Epox is generally excellent, with some standout elements and a few glaring layout faults." Before reading this line I already noticed the PSU ATX connector in an ugly location, and I'm sure no one would agree that this is "generally excellent". Now, how can something tbe "generally excellent" yet still have "glaring faults"? It doesn't make any sense to me. You see this a lot on hardocp as well. There'll be a major fault or issue with a product, but they always come back with (and I'm paraphrasing here) "but other than that, it's overall excellent". If something is truly "excellent" then it doesn't have any faults, otherwise it's just average or mediocre. Okay, rant over! Reply
  • ThePlagiarmaster - Monday, October 25, 2004 - link

    Since it didn't get answered in the last article comments, I guess it's worth repeating (especially since the same results keep showing up):

    Wesley,

    I'm wondering why the dvd2avi divx 5.1.1 show such close results here. With basically the same machines on hardocp, they show the athlon64 beating Intel's best by HUGE margins (like 20% faster than the 3.6 and almost the same over the 3.4ee)

    http://www.hardocp.com/article.html?art=Njc1LDM=

    You guys showed the same thing no too long ago, but I can't find the article now. The paragraph under the graphs of the A64 winning said Intel lost the last thing they used to win in the benches. The article appears gone? What happened here, why so different from dvd2avi results at hardocp? They used the same divx 5.1.1 so it's not the encoder or the frontend. Heck even the 3500+ dominated the 3.6 and 3.4ee (more than 10%).

    Whatever it is, I think a bit of research needs to be done on what's best for AMD, and what's best for Intel and pit them against each other. Clearly AMD people would run the way hardocp does (though it looks no different than what's used here). While you state you can show whatever you want, perhaps you should be showing the BEST for each platform. Would people really go home and run in a way that makes their cpu look like crap?

    When you're talking about cutting 20% off of encoding, that adds up to a lot of time. I'd argue with the statement about divx 5.1.1 exploiting sse3 and making Intel a usual winner. Hardocp has been using 5.1.1 and A64's kill p4's with it (and have for a long time on their site). Is it AutoGK that throws things out of whack? Does it favor Intel so much that it causes a 20+ percent reversal? If it's truly based on dvd2avi how could it be so far out of whack compared to hardocp's scores? I think your readers would want to know which way to encode the fastest with whichever cpu they choose. Why would people want to know what the middle ground is and lose 20% cpu performance? Maybe Xmpeg for Intel, and pure dvd2avi for AMD?
    Reply
  • ksherman - Monday, October 25, 2004 - link

    I think you should change the title a little bit... kinda misleading to say "Epox 9NDA3+: New Choice for Socket 939" You should write Epox 9NDA3+: A New Choice for Socket 939. I find it to be a little misleading... just my input!

    Shermie
    Reply
  • Gnoad - Monday, October 25, 2004 - link

    Tell me about it. I really don't want an MSI board but its basically the only option right now. DFI and Abit need to get their arse in gear quick. Mmmm, socket 939 LanParty board.....that would be my future board right there. Reply
  • Zebo - Monday, October 25, 2004 - link

    #2, AGP

    Many people sunk $400-$600 in new AGP cards and want to use them. Many cards arnt PCIe. Basically NF4 probably won't support the graphics standard 98% of people have.


    Wes, Where are the real enthusiast boards? Ya know ASUS/ABIT/DFI :( Hard to believe MSI has the best NF3 board still.
    Reply
  • Beenthere - Monday, October 25, 2004 - link

    nF4 is PCIe only not AGP. nF3 and nF4 are virtually identical other than AGP vs. PCIe. Reply
  • FearoftheNight - Monday, October 25, 2004 - link

    Why not straight to nf4????? Reply
  • Budman - Monday, October 25, 2004 - link

    page 3 ... this a DFI or Epox board??


    The basic layout of the DFI is generally excellent, with some standout elements and a few glaring layout faults.
    Reply

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