Motherboard: Epox 8K3A+ Review :: Installation

09-17-2002 · Category: Motherboards

By Doc Overclock

Setup on the board offered little resistance to the user and was very simple to work with all things considered. The board layout is very well thought out with the exception of some of the capacitors. The CPU, its cooling solution, the memory, and the cables can be installed easily by the person assembling the system. The board is also clearly marked with a very readable silkscreen for hooking up the system wiring.

Being a jumper-free board means no messy jumpers or switches need to be set before starting up the system. Just install your system components, connect your case wiring and drive cables and the 8K3A+ will auto-detect your CPU and memory timings. I was able to get a post the first time I started the system up and was greeted with a familiar beep meaning success.

Be very careful when installing your Ge-Force 4 or RADEON 9700 VGA card as the capacitors are located way too close the AGP port and can break off the end caps of your card if not installed properly. I damaged my Ti4600 in this manner and it was a nightmare trying to get my card fixed. This is just plain bad design and should be corrected ASAP before it haunts them.

There are available options for overclocking the CPU, Memory, and AGP controller within the AWARD BIOS. These features along with voltage increment options for increased stability within the Windows system environment allow for successful overclocking adventures to be achieved. I was very easily able to overclock my 133MHZ FSB 2.0GHz to 143MHz soundly using a combination of these features.

The EPOX 8K3A+ offers the user a very easy to update bios that is extremely user friendly especially when comparing the task of taking on this procedure having to obtain a bootable floppy just to get started. With the 8K3A+ all you need to do is download the appropriate BIOS .bin file from the EPOX website put the file on a floppy disc and restart the computer.

When the system first begins the startup procedure you will see a message at the bottom of the screen offering a command prompt assisted BIOS flash utility that takes you into the BIOS flashing procedure. If you have the right file downloaded and on the inserted floppy disc this procedure will begin as soon as the system sees the floppy files and automatically flash your BIOS to the newer version.

When installing Windows XP if you want to use the RAID channels to control your hard drive the OS setup will ask if you want to install any additional SCSI devices by pressing the F6 key. When prompted insert the included RAID floppy discs that accompanies the board and choose to install the driver off the floppy not the driver that Windows XP offers.

This will allow the Windows OS to recognize the RAID controller in the OS installer and in turn recognize your hard discs whether using a single drive or the drives used in a RAID environment. To run the system in a RAID array you will need to read the manual and pay close attention to detail to get things going right as this a more complicated procedure than the normal just format install and go.

For your hardware monitoring the 8K3A+ incorporates the Winbond chip and offers the user the ability to see how hot the system and CPU are running in addition to the RPM speeds of the system/CPU fans. There is also a post Debug LED that provides a set of numbers/letters to tell how well the system is performing. A code of FF means the board is fully functioning properly. The manual has a complete list of the Debug codes and what they stand for if you encounter system problems.