Epox EP-7KXA Motherboard Review
Good and Bad
This content was originally featured on Amdmb.com and has been converted to PC Perspective's website. Some color changes and flaws may appear.Now, we'll analyze all this. The most obvious difference between this and
all previous Athlon motherboards, is the VIA 371 North Bridge. It is this component
that enables the new 133 MHz memory bus. The BIOS options offer both
the 100 Mhz or the 100 + 33MHz bus, allowing those with PC100 memory to use it
on this motherboard, yet keeping it simple to enable the extra speed
for those with PC133 memory. Also note that the EP-7KXA supports Virtual
Channel memory, which is very new on the market.
Another key feature of the North Bridge is the 4x AGP mode. This is the first
Athlon motherboard to have this feature that has been common for a while on
the latest Slot-1 motherboards. Using the latest version of the AGP core, those
who had experienced some problems actually enabling the 4x mode on their
video cards should see them resolved. Of course, the slot is backwards compatible
with 1x and 2x AGP modes.
The south bridge of the KX133 chipset, the VIA 686A, is also a highly innovative
product from VIA. Integrating an I/O controller, ISA Bridge and hardware monitoring
in single chip reduces cost to manufacturers, hence lowering costs to consumers
and OEMs. Epox used this south bridge chip to leave in a single ISA slot on the
motherboard for those who still have Legacy device sitting around. From what I can
tell, most of the first generation of KX133 boards will follow suit with a single
ISA slot, as well. Other expansion slots on this motherboard are in the 5/1/1/1
One of the best modifications on this board is the movement of the ATX power connector.
Unlike the K7M, which was plagued by users who wanted to add high quality cooling
fans and heatsinks to their Athlon processors who were unable to do so,
the EP-7KXA's connector is turned 90° and moved up. This keeps the area between
the processor and memory slots open and rooms for the Alpha fans or whatever you
fancy. The layout of the bottom of the motherboard is not so uplifting, as the location
of the floppy cable connector and the case connectors keeps a couple of the PCI slots
from being full sized. This is minor concern, however, since their are very few
full sized PCI cards that are in use in today's market.
Epox has placed a slew of capacitors, caps and voltage regulator, with mounted
heatsinks on them. Like all the Athlon motherboards, all these features back here
are need to supply the processor with all the power it needs, which is a lot.
This keeps the motherboard stable, though not as strong as the Asus K7M.
Epox has listened to what the public has been saying, and they have been screaming
about overclocking! Epox responded by adding similar options to their EP-7KXA
as Asus added to the K7M. Giving the users option of 110MHz and 115MHz front
side buses, users can overclock their Athlon without entering the machine
or modifying the processor. It would have been nice to see Epox show as much
flexiblity as Asus with some more FSB settings, but a couple are better than
Some more overclocking options are given with the dip switches that allow
the user to modify the core voltage to the CPU. Options from 1.50v to 1.80v are
available in increments of 0.05v.
Extras will be included with the official retail version of the EP-7KXA, including
some Norton software, notably Ghost and Anti-Virus. Nothing that is exceptionally
outstanding, but you're not paying anything for it, so why complain, right? :) The Epox's
manual is decent, though beginners may find the lack of detailed instructions
a pain, anyone with a general knowlegdge of computers should be able to handle the
installation. If not, you can always head over to our forums to ask for some
With so much good to talk about on this board, where and how far does it fall short?
First, the Epox board is a bit less stable than some of the previous Slot-A boards
using the AMD 750 chipset, such as the Gigabyte GA-7IX and the Asus K7M. Running
some hard tests on the board, including games and business applications and graphics
programs such as Photoshop and 3D Studio, the 7KXA came to halt once or twice more than
the comparable motherboards. Most of the issues seemed to be fixable, so we can expect
higher reliability as more BIOS updates are available.