If you were to go out and purchase a BX motherboard, you have a number of choices that are truly excellent productions from companies like ABIT, ASUS, and AOpen among others. The bottom line is that in the BX mainboard market, there can truly be a select few that can don the title "Best Overall Motherboard." Although the final decision is completely based upon the type of user you are, we generally have a similar set of five or so final candidates for the position.
Unfortunately things are much different in the Super7 market. The release of the AMD K6-2 in 1998 brought along much hope for the Socket-7 market, however very few mainboard manufacturers ever took AMD's promises seriously. This resulted in a canceled ABIT Super7 motherboard, and relatively meager production from the other big guns in the motherboard industry, leaving the rest of the world to sit silently in awe while AMD's flagship was run on low-quality Super7 motherboards.
Not until recently have motherboard manufacturers begun to take the Super7 industry soberly, which is why in the past 6 months alone the market has seen more Super7 motherboard releases than once thought possible. Among the manufacturers that saw the golden opportunity to release a rare, high-quality Super7 motherboard was Epox with their MVP3C-M and MVP3E-M AT and ATX solutions for the market. In anticipation of AMD's upcoming K6-3 release next month to go head to head with Intel's Pentium III motherboard manufacturers are jumping the gun on their 3rd generation Super7 boards to meet the release with style, quality, reliability, and the performance that will keep the fiery competition between Super7 and Slot-1 based systems without the aid of motherboard issues to fuel itself. What is Epox's 3rd generation Super7 board? Let's meet the MVP3G-M, possibly Epox's ticket to true stardom among Super7 users.
New Anand Tech Report Card Rating 84/B-
Do not compare newer ratings to older ones, the newer ratings are much more aggressive
|VIA MVP3 Revision CE
|66 / 68 /
75 / 83 / 95
100 / 112 / 124 / 133
|1.5x - 5.5x (Auto Detect)
|2.1v / 2.2v / 2.4v / 2.8v / 2.9v / 3.2v
|3 168pin DIMM Slots
5 PCI Slots (4 Full Length)
2 ISA Slots (1 Shared / 1 Full Length)
|Is a 5/2/1 expansion slot configuration too much to ask for? Absolutely not, although it is a rarity in the Super7 motherboard market, the Epox MVP3G-M starts out with the highly demanded 5/2/1 (PCI/ISA/AGP) layout that many Super7 users have been denied for quite some time.
|The 5 PCI slots, as with most 5/2/1 motherboards are made possible through the use of VIA's PCI-to-PCI bridge, which essentially allows for concurrent occupation of all 5 PCI slots so long as the peripherals installed are willing to work in such a configuration. Much like the ATX design of the first MVP3E-M Super7 board from Epox, the 3 DIMM slots present on the board run almost adjacent to the ATX I/O panel at the top of the motherboard, making RAM upgrades quite a simple task on a fully assembled system.
|Moving south from the DIMM slots you'll find the VIA MVP3 chipset North Bridge (Revision CE), surrounded by four equidistant capacitors, and bordered by the two 5ns 512KB EliteMT L2 cache chips. The majority of the real estate on the PCB of the MVP3G-M is left "unsold" to any jumper blocks as the board, like all Epox motherboards, features Epox's Easy Set Jumper Setup, in this case ESDJ: Easy Set Dual Jumper setup.
Through the use of two individual jumpers, one controlling the clock multiplier and the second controlling the FSB frequency, you can completely setup and configure your K6-2 or any other processor on the MVP3G-M within a matter of seconds. Voltage configuration on-board isn't too big of an ordeal either, a single jumper controls the core voltage setup of your CPU as well. To top things off, another single jumper, located near the memory banks controls the memory bus frequency, locking it either to the FSB or AGP bus frequency (usually 100MHz or 66MHz respectively). The total configuration time on the MVP3G-M? Less than 30 seconds.
The board comes laid out in a very spacious manner as previously mentioned, two 3-pin fan power connectors found their place in the vicinity of the CPU Socket-7 interface to make virtually any cooling configuration an easy install, without having to worry about power supply cable extenders, or other messy case inhabitants. The CPU socket is fairly isolated, making the installation of the CPU's heatsink/fan combo unrestricted by any components around it.
The overclocking possibilities on the MVP3G-M are better than most Super7 motherboards, the 112MHz FSB setting on the board seems to be the sweet spot as the stability achieved with an AGP system running at 124MHz was simply too low to be considered strong enough for normal usage. In any case, 112MHz yields a significant improvement for Super7 users as the speed of the L2 cache is directly proportional to the speed of the system's FSB frequency, and an improvement in the L2 cache speed is a direct improvement in overall system performance as has already been proven. The 112MHz FSB setting is selectable from the motherboard itself, however in order to access the other settings (124MHz/133MHz) a quick trip to the Chipset Features Setup of the on-board Award BIOS is necessary .
The performance of the motherboard, when outfitted with 1MB of L2 cache (allowing for a full 254MB cacheable memory area), is identical to that of the FIC PA-2013 featuring 2MB of L2 cache, and to top that, the Epox board has no problems running at 112MHz. If you take the beauty of the FIC PA-2013, and add a much more simplified setup process, a more elegant layout and definitely more stable operation in both overclocked and normally clocked situations, you have Epox's new born motherboard, the MVP3G-M.