Basic Features: Epox 9NDA3+


 Epox 9NDA3+ Motherboard Specifications
CPU Interface Socket 939 Athlon 64
Chipset nVidia nForce3 Ultra
Bus Speeds 200MHz to 400MHz (in 1MHz increments)
PCI/AGP Speeds 66MHz to 100MHz (in 1MHz increments)
Core Voltage +.05V, +.10V, +.15V, +.20V
DRAM Voltage 2.5V to 2.8V in 0.1V increments
AGP Voltage 1.5V-1.8V in 0.1V increments
Chipset Voltage 1.6V-1.75V in 0.05V increments
Hyper Transport Ratios 1X to 5X in 1X increments
CPU Ratios Auto, 8X to 25X in 1X increments
DRAM Speeds Auto, 100, 133, 166, 200
Memory Slots Four 184-pin DDR Dual-Channel Slots
Unbuffered Non-ECC Memory to 4GB Total
Expansion Slots 1 AGP 8X Slot
5 PCI Slots
Onboard SATA 4-Drive SATA by nF3-250Gb
Onboard IDE Two Standard nVidia ATA133/100/66
(4 drives)
SATA/IDE RAID 4-Drive SATA Plus 4-Drive IDE can be combined in nVidia RAID 0, 1, 0+1, JBOD
Onboard USB 2.0/IEEE-1394 8 USB 2.0 ports supported by nF3-250Gb
2 1394A FireWire ports by VIA VT6307
Onboard LAN 1 Gigabit Ethernet on-chip
by nF3-250GB and Vitesse VSA8201 PHY
Onboard Audio Realtek ALC850 8-Channel with UAJ
SPDIF coaxial in and out
BIOS Award 10/07/2004


The single chip nVidia nForce3 Ultra is used for the 9NDA3+. For more information on this chipset, you can refer to our launch articles for the chipset:

nForce3-250 - Part 1: Taking Athlon 64 to the Next Level
nForce3-250 - Part 2: Taking Athlon 64 to the Next Level

The nF3 Ultra is targeted at Socket 939, with the nF3-250Gb and basic nF3-250 aimed more at Socket 754. This distinction will likely blur due to the recent introduction of the nForce4 chipset, but there is no real performance difference in the nF3-250 and nF4 chipset families. The major difference is that nForce3-250 chipsets are for AGP video and nForce4 is for PCI Express video.

The current Epox catalog shows the 9NDA3+ that we are testing, and an upcoming 9NPA+ that is based on the nForce 4 chipset.

Our 9NDA3+ test board was a full retail package and included:
  • A "Power Pack" that includes a user's manual, quick installation guide, installation screwdriver, 8 mini heatsinks for Mosfets and VGA DIMMs, Epox logo badge, and a driver CD
  • Two round red IDE cables
  • One flat floppy cable
  • Two Serial ATA data cables
  • Two Serial ATA power cable
  • One USB bracket with 2 ports
  • One Firewire bracket with 2 standard ports
  • One Accessory Bracket with Serial Port 2 and a Game port
  • One "nVRAID Driver" diskette
  • One I/O shield


Epox uses a large heatsink on the single chip nF3 Ultra with active fan cooling. The active cooling solution did a decent job of keeping the nF3 Ultra chip cool during both normal operation and overclocking.



Many of the manufacturers of nF3-250 family chipsets have chosen the Realtek ALC850 7.1 audio chip. The ALC850 is also the choice of Epox, which includes both Optical and Coaxial SPDIF connectors on the rear IO panel. This 8-channel audio codec is fully AC '97 2.3 compliant and features 16-bit 8-channel audio and auto-jack sensing with support for a full range of analog and digital IO. A wide range of sound standards are supported including:
  • EAXTM 1.0 & 2.0 compatible
  • Direct Sound 3DTM compatible
  • A3DTM compatible
  • I3DL2 compatible
  • HRTF 3D positional audio
  • SensauraTM 3D Enhancement
The ALC850 Codec provides four pairs of stereo outputs, with 5-Bit volume controls and multiple stereo and mono inputs, along with flexible mixing, and gain and mute functions. Two 50mW/20ohm headset audio amplifiers are integrated at Front-Out and Surround-Out, and both amplifiers are selectable for Front-Out, Line-In and Mic-In as a Universal Audio Jack.

You can find more information on the recently released ALC850 at Realtek.



Epox provides a full selection of rear I/O ports. These include 6 audio mini jacks plus both coaxial and optical SPDIF out connectors to support the Realtek ALC850 on the back IO panel. IO also includes PS2 mouse and keyboard, parallel, 1 serial, 1 standard Firewire (IEEE1394), 4 USB, and a Gigabit Ethernet.



nVidia "Any Drive" RAID is supported on the 9NDA3+. Any of the standard 4 IDE drives or an additional 4 SATA drives can be combined in a Raid 0 (striping), Raid 1 (Mirroring), or Raid 0+1 array.



On-chip Gigabit LAN is built-in with the nForce3 Ultra and runs completely independent of the PCI bus. Epox uses the Vitesse PHY (Physical Layer) chip to provide the interface for direct communication of the LAN to the chipset.



Four DIMM slots support up to 4GB of up to DDR400 memory in a Dual-Channel memory configuration. It is worth mentioning that Dual-Channel 1 is DIMMs 1 and 2, and Dual-Channel 2 is DIMMs 3 and 4.

Index Board Layout: Epox 9NDA3+
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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

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