EPoX 8NPA+ SLI Motherboard Review :: The Board

12-19-2005 · Category: Motherboards

By Benjamin Sun
Epox EP-8NPA SLi Spec Sheet
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Motherboard Photo
Part NumberEP-8NPA SLi
Price CheckFind Best Price
ChipsetNvidia nForce4 SLI
North BridgeNvidia nForce4 SLI MCP
SocketSocket 754
Processor TypesAthlon 64, Athlon 64 FX, Sempron
Number of CPUs
Front Side Bus800MHz HyperTransport Bus Link
Memory TypeDDR
Memory ChannelsSingle
Maximum Memory2GB
External GraphicsPCI Express x16
IGP None
South BridgeNvidia nForce4 SLI MCP
SATA3.0 GB/s
RAID0, 1
Expansion Slots
Form FactorATX
Motherboard Photo

One of the unique things about the 8NPA-SLI is the use of the Socket 754 interface with the SLI MCP chip. What this means is if you have an older AMD Athlon 64 CPU like a 3400+ or one of the newer value AMD CPUs like the Sempron 3100, you can use this motherboard to upgrade your video card to the new PCI Express x16 standard without a new CPU. I tested the board with a 3100+ Sempron to give an idea of the target market for the board.

EPoX 8NPA+ SLI Motherboard Review CPU Socket 754

CPU Socket 754

EPoX 8NPA+ SLI Motherboard Review DIMM Slots

DIMM Slots

Memory support on the board is provided by 2 DIMM (Dual In-line Memory Modules) slots. Socket 754 supports single channel memory, providing up to 3.2GB of memory bandwidth. The board supports up to 2GB of unbuffered non-registered DDR memory. Most systems today come with at least 4 DIMM slots and support up to 4GB of unbuffered memory. With the Sempron class of CPU, however, the system is likely to be for the mainstream user, not for the high-end user.

EPoX 8NPA+ SLI Motherboard Review PCI Express x16 slots

PCI Express x16 slots

EPoX 8NPA+ SLI Motherboard Review PCI and PCI Express x1 slots

PCI and PCI Express x1 slots

Expansion support on the board is dominated by two PCI Express x16 slots. This allows the board to operate two video cards in SLI mode. One thing about EPoX's arrangement is the lack of a "paddle" in where you would need to switch a card to enable SLI mode, as found in most SLI motherboards. Other expansion on the board includes two PCI Express x1 slots and two regular PCI slots. One of the PCI Express x1 slots is above the top PCI Express x16 slot, the other below the top slot. This means if you have two PCI Express x1 devices installed, SLI might get in the way.

EPoX 8NPA+ SLI Motherboard Review SATA Ports

SATA Ports

EPoX 8NPA+ SLI Motherboard Review IDE Port

IDE Port

Drive expansion on the board is typical of motherboards today. 4 SATA ports are present. They are labeled 1,2,3,4. The nForce4 SLI chipset natively supports 4 SATA 2.0 ports. The nForce4 MCP chip supports RAID 0, 1, 0+1, and JBOD modes natively. Stripping, Mirror and Stripping with Mirroring are the modes supported by the RAID controller.

EPoX 8NPA+ SLI Motherboard Review I/O Back Panel

I/O Back Panel

The input and output back panel is similar in concept to many of the other motherboards out there today. One thing I have to take EPoX a little to task for is the inclusion of a back plate with extra audio inputs on their back plate. Hopefully this is not typical of the retail board, as the back plate should match the back panel. Other ports on the back of the board include 4 USB 2.0 ports, 3 ports for the onboard audio (6 ports on the back plate).

Onboard audio is handled by a Realtek ALC655 CODEC. Most motherboards today come with at least a 7.1 surround capable sound solution, but the Realtek 655 is only capable of 5.1 surround sound. For a budget user, this is sufficient. For the hard-core enthusiast, you would do well to purchase a standalone sound card. The ALC655 supports DirectSound, EAX 2.0 and A3D 1.0.