EPoX EP-9U1697 GLI Motherboard Review - SLI Killer?
EPoX gets back to the basics on the EP-9U1697 GLI, but that doesn't mean EPoX hasn't given the EP-9U1697 some special treatment.
For drive connectivity, the EP-9U1697 GLI has four true SATA-II connections capable of RAID 0, 1, 0+1, and 5. Not to be mistaken with SATA 300 GB/s you would find on Intel and nForce 4 motherboards, the SATA-II on the EP-9U1697 has all the goodies like NCQ, and hot-swap.
Legacy drives have not been abandoned as shown by the two ATA-133 connections for your old HDDs and optical drives. RAID isn't featured on the ATA-133 connections.
Unlike other motherboards with PCI-Express, there is only one x1 slot on the EP-9U1697 GLI; this also means that there are three old PCI slots instead of just two. I honestly prefer more PCI slots over 1x or 4x slots since there are a lot more PCI devices on the market currently than 1x or x4x PCI-Express.
The jumpers allow you to switch from 16-1 mode to 8-8 mode for dual grpahics.
Of course who can forget about the two PEG (PCI Express Graphics) slots which can be configured in 16-1 or 8-8 PCI-Express modes. Thanks to a software patch, the EP-9U1697 GLI can run two NVIDIA PCI-Express cards in SLI. This may be the biggest selling point of the EP-9U1697 aside from the price.
EPoX includes their handy diagnostic LED and reset/power switches.
EPoX has added some extras to their product to sweeten the deal for the potential buyer. First is their GhostBIOS recue utility that allows you to flash your BIOS from a CD or floppy without having to POST. This is very handy if you've corrupted your BIOS (like I did during this review). Second, is their suite of tweaking utilities supported in Windows namely the ThunderProbe system health reporting and the EasyFlash BIOS flasher. Third is the onboard diagnostic LED and power/reset switches. These seem like trivial features, but when you're dealing with a non-booting system and an open case on the floor, these little touches become extremely useful!
For audio, the EP-9U1697 GLI uses a Realtek AC'97 codec chip instead of the Azalia/HD Audio codec the chipset is capable of supporting. This is done primarily to keep costs down and to offer audio that's "good enough" for most users. If you want something better, you can get an X-Fi or Xtreme Sound 7.1 since you have plenty of PCI slots to use.