Epox 9NPA+ Ultra Motherboard Review :: The Board

04-06-2005 · Category: Motherboards

By Benjamin Sun
Epox EP-9NPA+ Ultra Spec Sheet
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Motherboard Photo
Part NumberEP-9NPA+ Ultra
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ChipsetNvidia nForce4 Ultra
North BridgeNvidia nForce4 Ultra MCP
SocketSocket 939
Processor TypesAthlon 64, Athlon 64 FX
Number of CPUs
Front Side Bus1GHz HyperTransport Bus Link
Memory TypeDDR
Memory ChannelsDual
Maximum Memory4GB
External GraphicsPCI Express x16
IGP None
South BridgeNvidia nForce4 Ultra MCP
SATA3.0 GB/s
RAID0, 1, 0+1
Expansion Slots
  • 3 x PCI
  • 3 x PCI Express x1
  • 1 x PCI Express x16
Form FactorATX
Motherboard Photo

The 9NPA+ Ultra is based upon NVIDIA's nForce4 Ultra chipset. This chipset supports all current AMD Socket 939 CPUs including the FX-55 and 4000+ that are the fastest available 939 CPUs. AMD has moved the memory controller to the CPU, alleviating the need for a two-chip solution for normal North and South Bridge functions. NVIDIA uses their MCP (Media Communications Processor) to handle both functions. Memory support on the 9NPA consists of 4 184-pin DIMM (Dual In-Line Memory Modules), allowing up to 4 GB of unbuffered non-ECC DDR memory. AMD does not yet support DDR2 memory and it'll likely be the end of this year before DDR2 support is added.

Epox 9NPA+ Ultra Motherboard Review CPU Socket

CPU Socket

Epox 9NPA+ Ultra Motherboard Review DIMMs


Expansion options on the board are varied and worthy of note. EPoX includes 3 PCI Express X1 slots, a PCI Express X16 slot for the video card and 3 regular PCI slots for backwards compatibility. Few PCI Express devices exist at the moment, aside from video cards. The positioning of the PCI Express X16 slot is not the greatest. The PCI Express X16 slot is directly above the IDE controller ports. This makes airflow a concern of the board. In fact a long video card, like a GEFORCE 6800 Ultra may cause the first IDE port to be covered. Using our standard GEFORCE 6800GT reference board caused the end of the video card to rest against the first IDE cable. The positioning of the PCI Express X1 slots and PCI slots allows for 2 PCI devices and 3 PCI Express devices to be installed, even when a 2-slot video card is installed.

Epox 9NPA+ Ultra Motherboard Review PCI Express X16

PCI Express X16

Epox 9NPA+ Ultra Motherboard Review PCI express X1

PCI express X1

Epox 9NPA+ Ultra Motherboard Review PCI


Drive support is varied, as one would expect from a nForce4 Ultra board. 4 SATA II ports are present, a number that is ok but not exceptional. Many other nForce4 boards have 8 SATA ports. Truthfully, I do not see the need for more than 4 ports for the average user, as 4 drives is sufficient. PATA support is provided by 2 PATA connectors providing support for up to 4 IDE devices. As we move further into 2005, I expect to see more SATA devices besides hard disk drives including DVD-ROM drives, alleviating the need for PATA connectors.

Epox 9NPA+ Ultra Motherboard Review SATA


Epox 9NPA+ Ultra Motherboard Review PATA


Epox 9NPA+ Ultra Motherboard Review Floppy


Back panel support on the 9NPA+ consists of the standard PS/2 Mouse and keyboard, parallel and serial ports; S/PDIF and RCA optical output jacks; 4 USB 2.0 ports, 1 NVIDIA Gigabit LAN Ethernet port, and 6 audio ports for the speakers. EPoX includes a VIA VT6307 chip to support Firewire IEEE-1394a and a VITESSE SimpliPHY VSC8201RX PHY chip for Gigabit Ethernet support. I'm glad to see EPoX go the extra mile and include S/PDIF support on this board. A Realtek ALC850 CODEC provides onboard audio on the 9NPA. This provides 7.1-surround sound support and is easily the equal of most audio solutions on the market today. The 850 CODEC supports EAX 1/2 DirectSound and other popular sound APIs.