EPoX EP-9NPA+ SLI nForce 4 SLI AMD Review
Features & Design (Part 1)
The EPoX EP-9NPA+SLI has some unique features compared to the other three SLI boards we have reviewed previously here on PCPerspective. First, and most obvious, is the exhaust fan and duct just behind the 939 socket. This cooling is similar to the OTES system on the ABIT's Fatal1ty line of boards, but instead EPoX uses a single fan instead of two. Using a single fan may disappoint some of you, but this also allows EPoX to put more features on the rear I/O that would have been otherwise taken up by an extra fan.
The socket area is largely clear of obstructions with the exception of the orange duct. Ironically the duct is a feature on this board and just by looking at it I can tell that a Zalman CNPS7700-Cu will not fit with the chute in place. Lucky, EPoX has designed the duct to be removable by undoing two screws on the backside of the board. The fan can then be secured the the back I/O shield using the screws (not pictured). This is something to keep in mind if you have or plan to get a larger aftermarket heatsink.
The CPU fan duct is removable making the EP-9NPA+SLI compatible
with larger heatsinks.
When the duct is in place, the 12V power is in an awkward spot because there is less clearance. This is just a minor annoyance. The nearby ATX power cable is in a tough spot as well as it is flanked by the 1x PCIe slot and a low-profile capacitor. When the Zalman CNPS-7700Cu heatsink was installed, I took the following picture:
Those cables are crammed and bent to accomodate the massive heatsink. Swapping cables or power supplies is not something done too often, but when you do you can appreciate easy access. Unfortunately if you have a large heatsink installed on the EP-9NPA+SLI, getting at these cables is a challenge, more so in a cramped case.
There are four DIMMs each supporting dual-channel configurations. The slots themselves are color-coded for easy installation and tightly packed together. If you're using some modules with hefty heatspreaders, you may have to live with some slight bending in the slots.
4GB dual-channel, and two parallel ATA channels.
Like all other nForce 4 SLI motherboards, there are two parallel ATA IDE channels for a total of four legacy devices. There is also a floppy connection near the top-front edge of the board in case you're still using old 3.5" disks.
The EPoX EP-9NPA+SLI sports two PCI-Express 16x slots for SLI operation and a single 1x PCIe slot. The 1x PCIe slot is trapped between the first 16x PCIe slot and the ATX power connector (see first image at top) . This makes this slot hard to use, especially if you have a vidcard with a hefty heatspreader on the back.
Two GeForce 6600GT cards for SLI goodness.
To enable SLI mode, you flip a small chip (see this image of the board) to enable or disable SLI mode and connect the two cards with a bridge. This is similar to the way Asus does it for their SLI board which I think is the better way compared to DFI's banks of jumpers.