EPoX 9NPA + SLI Motherboard Review :: The Board

09-16-2005 · Category: Motherboards

By Benjamin Sun
Epox EP-9NPA+ SLi Spec Sheet
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Motherboard Photo
Part NumberEP-9NPA+ SLi
Price CheckFind Best Price
ChipsetNvidia nForce4 SLI
North BridgeNvidia nForce4 SLI MCP
SocketSocket 939
Processor TypesAthlon 64, Athlon 64 FX
Number of CPUs1
Front Side Bus1GHz HyperTransport Bus Link
Memory TypeDDR
Memory ChannelsDual
Maximum Memory4GB
External GraphicsPCI Express x16
IGP None
South BridgeNvidia nForce4 SLI MCP
SATA3.0 GB/s
RAID0, 1
FirewireIEEE 1394a
Expansion Slots
Form FactorATX
Motherboard Photo

The SLI chipset supports all current AMD Athlon 64, FX and X2 CPUs including the 3800+-4800+ Dual core CPUs. One big advantage of using the AMD platform is that you can use CPUs with the same Socket interface with the worse case scenario being a BIOS flash update. Intel recently released their own dual core CPUs, but they require a whole new motherboard chipset (955X or 945G).

EPoX 9NPA + SLI Motherboard Review CPU Socket

CPU Socket

EPoX 9NPA + SLI Motherboard Review DIMM Slots

DIMM Slots

The memory controller on AMD Athlon 64 and FX CPUs is on the CPU die itself. This alleviates the need for a separate North and South Bridge for the motherboard, as Intel motherboards require both. EPoX outfitted the motherboard with 4 184-pin DIMM slots, meaning the 9NPA+ SLI board supports 4GB of unbuffered non-ECC DDR400 memory, the same as every other nForce4 board.

EPoX 9NPA + SLI Motherboard Review PCIe x16 Slots

PCIe x16 Slots

EPoX 9NPA + SLI Motherboard Review PCI Slots

PCI Slots

PCI Express slots are fast becoming the de facto replacement for the PCI slot and the AGP slot. EPoX outfits the 9NPA+ SLI with 2 PCI Express x16 slots for two NVIDIA based cards. With two video cards, the two slots work in x8 mode. NVIDIA recently announced the x16 SLI platform allowing x16 operation when two cards are inserted, but currently this is only available through Dell and their XPS 600 series of gaming machines. Other device expansion on the board consists of a PCI Express x1 slot and 3 PCI 2.3 compliant slots for backwards compatibility.

EPoX 9NPA + SLI Motherboard Review SATA Ports

SATA Ports

EPoX 9NPA + SLI Motherboard Review 2 SATA Ports

2 SATA Ports

EPoX 9NPA + SLI Motherboard Review IDE and FD

IDE and FD

EPoX outfitted this board with plenty of storage options. 6 SATA ports are present on the board. The nForce4 SLI chipset supports 4 SATA 2.0 ports natively. EPoX added a Silicon Image Sil3132 chip to provide RAID 0,1 support for the other two SATA ports. NForce4 SLI supports the SATA 2.0 standard, offering 3.0GB/second bandwidth compared to the 1.5GB/second offered by SATA 1.0. EPoX includes 2 IDE connectors for 4 IDE devices. One floppy drive connector rounds out the drive expansion on the board.

EPoX 9NPA + SLI Motherboard Review
EPoX 9NPA + SLI Motherboard Review
EPoX 9NPA + SLI Motherboard Review
EPoX 9NPA + SLI Motherboard Review
EPoX 9NPA + SLI Motherboard Review
EPoX 9NPA + SLI Motherboard Review
EPoX 9NPA + SLI Motherboard Review

On-board sound on the board is provided by a Realtek ALC850 AC'97 CODEC. The ALC850 is a popular sound CODEC that supports up to 7.1 surround-sounds. On-board sound has improved to the point where the necessity of add-in sound cards is almost non-existent. ALC850 supports DirectSound, EAX 2.0, A3D 1.0 and the various other popular sound APIs. EPoX also provides SPDIF optical and Coax Outputs to support Dolby Digital sound.

EPoX 9NPA + SLI Motherboard Review I/O


Input and output devices on the back panel of the board include: 6 audio jacks for 7.1 surround sound, a SPDIF optical output and Coax output, 4 USB 2.0 ports, a RJ45 jack for the LAN, and PS/2 mouse and keyboard connectors. EPoX includes a fan assembly to cool the CPU area similar in concept to the ABIT OTES cooling system. One fan cools the CPU area. I'll discuss this a little more in the layout section of the review.