Epox 8KTA+ KT133 Motherboard Review
Specs and Features
This content was originally featured on Amdmb.com and has been converted to PC Perspective's website. Some color changes and flaws may appear.
First I’ll discuss the contents of the package. Of course you get the motherboard, but we’ll discuss that farther on down the page. You also get the drivers CD that has Norton Ghost and Antivirus on, which has become almost a standard with motherboards these days. But what impressed me the most was the manual that Epox has supplied. From reading it, one gets the impression that Epox truly believes in AMD’s product even calling it “the ultimate performance for cutting-edge applications.” While most Athlonmb.com readers would agree with this, it’s hard to find a motherboard company that says the facts as they see them, as opposed to getting scared by the CPU giant, Intel. Good for you Epox. Also, the diction, syntax and sentence structure are nearly perfect, which is a rare find in foreign motherboard manufacturers. This gives me the indication that Epox is taking the American public seriously as a part of its sales drive. This is good point for users who want to have the best technical support that you can get.
Oh, and I’m trying to forget to tell you that Epox supplies you with the standard ATA/66 IDE cable and floppy cable. Sorry, didn’t want you to think they left them out.
Now on to the motherboard itself. The physical layout of the board is pretty standard as far a KT133 boards go, but there are few more subtle differences. For one, the capacitors that usually line the border of the socket are off to side and instead circle some other minor components. This might only affect users if the heatsink/fan they plan on using has a large connector that might hit the closer of the capacitors.
On the other side of the socket, lie the memory slots. They are a little closer than other motherboards, and again may interfere with larger heatsinks and clips. The ATX power connector is placed much lower than normal in what I think is an attempt by Epox to move it as far away as possible from the socket on the motherboard. This was a good idea to keep fans from getting jammed and making it easier to change the processor/heatsink while the motherboard is in a case.
Around the ATX power connector we have two sets of dipswitches, which are very important, but I’ll get to them later on down in the discussion on overclocking.
The slot configuration is in the form of 6/1/0/1 (PCI, ISA, AMR, AGP). That gives the user of this motherboard many options. First, if they have an ISA sound card or other accessory, the ISA slot at the bottom will allow them to keep and put off upgrading it for at least one more system cycle. All this with the 6 PCI slots adds a lot of room for system additions and upgrades. It’s nice to see a company leave out the mostly-useless AMR slot in favor of an ISA slot. While I see the value of AMR for system builders, most PC enthusiasts don’t want AMR devices in their systems.
The AGP slot has a nice new feature that I haven’t seen in this style before. While Gigabyte had the idea first (check our review of the 7ZM for this), Epox seems to have improved it fairly dramatically. Instead of a bending clip, they have made the retention clip a “snap” much the memory retention clips. This is a nice feature for anyone who has the annoyance of an unseated AGP card cause them problems.
Moving on down the line, we have two IDE ATA/66 channels for supporting up to four devices, and a floppy channel. While having additional IDE channels as some motherboard do may seem like a disadvantage, having the extra IDE channels without some kind of RAID device can sometimes make system management a hassle and can complicate the BIOS.
Also on the 8KTA+ motherboard is the every popular AC’97 on-board sound. As I have mentioned in previous reviews, most readers of Athlonmb.com want higher performance sound than this kind of sound device can produce, and will want to disable it and install there own sound card. It is however very handy to have during testing (for us at Athlonmb.com) and for users who want to make their system as cheap as possible.
Now we can move on to the updates to the 8KTA+ from the 8KTA. Simply put, the + model has all the additions to make the overclocker a happier person. They added the ability to modify the multiplier of the processor anywhere from 5x to 12.5x. Running at 100 MHz front-side bus, this translates in the ability to run processor from 500 MHz to 1.25 GHz. That sounds awfully enticing, doesn’t it? But the new additions don’t stop there. The frequency selections are a good all round range, and there is now the ability to modify the core voltage of the CPU from 1.475v to 1.85v in increments of 0.025v. You can also modify the I/O voltage from 3.4v to 3.75v in increments of 0.05v.
What might keep this board from becoming the number one overclocker’s board then? Well, as a minor set back, the 8KTA+ has the multiplier and core voltage settings only modifiable via the blue dipswitches you can see in the picture. There is not an option to change any of the overclocking settings except for the frequency (FSB) in the bios. This leaves the Abit KT7 the only motherboard with this option on the market. This feature can be handy for the constant ‘guess-and-checking’ of current overclocking techniques. On the flip side of this coin, is the price difference. I have seen the Epox 8KTA+ going for as low as $110, while the Abit KT7 is in the $140-150 range. Quite a price difference, and it may affect many users choice in the motherboards for the loss of the multiplier/voltage bios interface.