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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  • 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

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