iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail

Platform

Video

Multimedia

Mobile

Other

EPoX 5NVA SLI — a Motherboard Based on NVIDIA nForce4 SLI (Intel Edition)

August 29, 2005



Motherboards from EPoX haven't been reviewed on our web site for a long time already. And finally it has happened! The EPoX 5NVA SLI motherboard is based on the top nForce4 SLI (IE) chipset and possesses a standard, but sufficient set of functions to qualify for a top motherboard. It's the second motherboard on nForce4 (IE) that we are going to test (the first one was MSI P4N Diamond).

So, what do we have here? Quite a nice box, a rich (without excesses, though) bundle, and a set of LEDs, which are not harsh to your eyes, but still provide necessary information whether the motherboard operates correctly — these are all exterior peculiarities of the product under review.

The EPoX 5NVA SLI cannot boast of rich functionality, but it still possesses the set of functions, which will be used by nearly all users to the full extent. Here lies one positive point: the new model from EPoX is not oversaturated with useless bells and whistles, which functions can be only guessed about in everyday life. Good quality (for an AC’97 codec) of the integrated audio solution, 1 GB/s network PHY, and a FireWire controller with two IEEE 1394a ports — these are all the 5NVA SLI can boast of. The only disappointment is the lack of "non-chipset" HDD controllers. But in fact, the main advantage of this motherboard, obtained together with the chipset, is SLI - note two PCIE x16 ports (one of them operates in x16/x8 modes, the other - x8/x1). A special board is used to switch between the regular mode and the SLI mode, which is not very convenient (for example, the MSI P4N Diamond allows to do it on the software level, i.e. in BIOS).  



Expert PCB layout produces a nice impression. The only gripe we have is a bad layout of connectors for brackets with additional USB and WiFi ports — they are right behind the last PCI slot, which may cause inconveniences, if a large expansion card is installed into it. The motherboard is equipped with the following elements: POST code display in the form of two seven-segment LEDs and a set of LEDs that indicate chipset, memory, and processor operations (they are blue, if everything is OK; if not, they are not lit at all =)). A fan on the northbridge heatsink is installed vertically. EPoX probably starts implementing some of its BTX ideas to manage air flows inside a PC case.

The 4-phase switching voltage regulator of the processor incorporates ten 560 uF capacitors and four 330 uF capacitors. The board also contains a memory voltage regulator (two 3300 uF capacitors and four 1000 uF ones.) The motherboard has no empty seats for unsoldered elements. Motherboard dimensions 305x245 mm ("wide" ATX, ten-screw mount, all motherboard edges are firmly fixed).

System monitoring (Fintek F71872F LPC):

  • CPU, chipset, memory, and battery voltage, +3.3 V, +5 V and +12 V
  • RPM of 3 fans
  • CPU and board temperatures (by the corresponding embedded sensors)

Onboard ports, sockets, and connectors

  • Processor socket (Socket 775, it's claimed compatible with all existing top processors from Intel at the time of the announcement: Celeron D (345), Pentium 4 (570 and 670), Pentium 4 Extreme Edition (3.73 GHz) (except for the latest dual core Pentium EE and Pentium D processors))
  • 4 x DDR 2 SDRAM DIMM (up to 8 GB DDR 2-400/533/667 Supports dual channel mode, the total memory capacity in both channels must be the same — for example, 256/256 or 256+256/512)
  • PCIE x16 slot (it can operate in the x16/x8 mode)
  • PCIE x16 slot (it can operate in x1/x8 mode)
  • 2 x PCIE x1
  • 2 x PCI
  • Power connectors: standard ATX 2.2 (24 pins, you can connect a regular 20-pin connector, but in this case it's not recommended to use powerful up-to-date componentry like top PCIE video cards as well as to run the motherboard in SLI mode) and 4-pin ATX12V for a processor
  • 1 x FDD
  • 2 x IDE (Parallel ATA) for 4 ATA133 devices — they are based on the chipset, connected drives can form RAID 0, 1, 0+1, or 5 with "chipset" SATA disks
  • 4 x SATA-II (Serial ATA II) — all of them are in the chipset, connected drives can form RAID 0, 1, 0+1, or 5 with "chipset" PATA drives
  • Three connectors for brackets with additional USB ports
  • Two connectors for brackets with 2 additional FireWire ports
  • Connectors for analog audio ins and outs on the front panel
  • 1 x CD/DVD audio connector
  • Connector for a SLI switch
  • 3 x fan headers (all with RPM control)

Back panel (left to right, blockwise)





Click the image to open the rear view of this motherboard
  • PS/2 mouse and keyboard
  • 1 x LPT, 2 x S/PDIF-Out (Coaxial and Toslink), 1 x COM
  • 2 x USB
  • 2 x USB and 1 x RJ-45 (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • 6 x analog audio jacks (Line-In, Front, Mic-In, Rear, Center/Sub, Side)

Package Contents




  • Package: a square box of a nice design
  • Documentation: user's manual in English
  • Cables: 2 x SATA (with power converters), 2 x "round" white ATA66 and 1 x FDD
  • SLI switch
  • Rear panel bracket with 2 x USB
  • Rear panel bracket with 2 x FireWire
  • A "pen" with a cross-head screwdriver at one end and a flat-bladed screwdriver at the other. Both ends are covered with tips
  • Rear I/O shield
  • CD with drivers and utilities.

Integrated Controllers

  • Audio, based on the AC'97 codec Realtek (Avance Logic) ALC850, supporting 7.1 surround sound audio with front line-in/out and S/PDIF-In/Out jacks
  • Fire Wire, based on the VIA VT6307 chip, supports 2 x Fire Wire (FireWire-400, IEEE 1394a)
  • Network PHY controller, based on the VITESSE VSC8201RX (PHY) chip, for chipset-integrated MAC controller Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000 Mbit/s Gigabit Ethernet).

The integrated audio quality was tested in 16bit, 44 kHz using the RightMark Audio Analyzer 5.5 test application and the Terratec DMX 6fire sound card:

Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB:
+0.08, -0.62
Good
Noise level, dB (A):
-81.3
Good
Dynamic range, dB (A):
81.2
Good
THD, %:
0.041
Good
Intermodulation distortion + Noise, %:
0.154
Average
Channel crosstalk, dB:
-81.0
Very good
IMD at 10 kHz, %:
0.182
Average

General performance: Good (Details).

Settings

Jumpers and switches Clear CMOS jumper
Jumpers to enable system wake up on USB devices
PS/2 keyboard power jumper
The motherboard contains Power and Reset buttons
In Award BIOS v6.00PG Memory timings
+
CAS Latency Time, DRAM RAS# to CAS# Delay, DRAM RAS# Precharge, Precharge Delay (tRAS)
Memory frequency selection
+
Auto, 400—900 MHz at 1 MHz steps
PCIE bus frequency control
+
100.0000 — 148.4375 MHz at 1.5625 MHz steps
PCI bus frequency control
-
 
PCI IRQ manual assignment
-
 
FSB frequency setup
+
1056-1300 MHz at 1 MHz steps
CPU multiplier
+
x12, x13
CPU voltage control
+
+0.025 V, +0.0125 V, +0.0000 V, -0.0125 V, -0.025 V, -0.0375 V, -0.050 V, -0.0625 V, -0.075 V, -0.0875 V, -0.100 V
Memory voltage control
+
+0.00 V — +0.35 V at 0.05 V steps
Chipset voltage control
+
+0.00 V, +0.10 V, +0.20 V, +0.30 V
FSB voltage control
-
 
PCIE bus voltage control
-
 

We used BIOS dated 05.22.2005, the latest available BIOS version at the time of our tests. The mentioned BIOS parameters are available in this version, but the viability of non-standard settings hasn't been tested.

Performance

Testbed configurations:

  • CPU: Intel Pentium 4 3.46 (Extreme Edition) (Socket LGA775)
  • Memory: Corsair CM2X512A-4300C3PRO x2 (DDR2 533, 3-3-3-8)
  • HDD: Samsung SP1213C (SATA, 7200 rpm, 8 MB Cache)
  • Video card: ATI Radeon X800 XT, 256 MB DDR
  • Power supply unit: FSP AX500-A
  • OS: Windows XP SP2

As we have tested only two motherboards on nForce4 SLI (IE) so far, it's hard to draw an objective conclusion about the performance of motherboards on this core logic. The table below contains results of the Epox 5NVA SLI and the MSI P4N Diamond, mentioned in the beginning of the article. The motherboard under review is a tad faster than the MSI model on the same chipset, you can see it with the naked eye.

Test
EPoX 5NVA SLI (DDR2 533)
MSI P4N Diamond (DDR2 533)
Archiving with 7-Zip, min:sec
6:57
7:06
MPEG4 (XviD) encoding, min:sec
5:09
5:12
MPEG4 (DivX) encoding, min:sec
3:48
3:47
Processing images in Photoshop, min:sec
30:35
31:56
Unreal Tournament 2004 (Low@640x480x32), fps
74.6
74.4
Unreal Tournament 2004 (Medium@800x600x32), fps
69.6
69.1

That's all we can tell you about motherboards on the new core logic from nVidia so far. Well, our lab will be looking forward to new representatives of this chipset in order to determine the fastest, the most reliable, the most functional, and the best bundled model. Look forward to a large roundup!

 

This model on the manufacturer's web site

The motherboard is kindly provided by the manufacturer





Vladimir Senchihin (sench@ixbt.com)
August 29, 2005.


Write a comment below. No registration needed!


Article navigation:



blog comments powered by Disqus

  Most Popular Reviews More    RSS  

AMD Phenom II X4 955, Phenom II X4 960T, Phenom II X6 1075T, and Intel Pentium G2120, Core i3-3220, Core i5-3330 Processors

Comparing old, cheap solutions from AMD with new, budget offerings from Intel.
February 1, 2013 · Processor Roundups

Inno3D GeForce GTX 670 iChill, Inno3D GeForce GTX 660 Ti Graphics Cards

A couple of mid-range adapters with original cooling systems.
January 30, 2013 · Video cards: NVIDIA GPUs

Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1

An external X-Fi solution in tests.
September 9, 2008 · Sound Cards

AMD FX-8350 Processor

The first worthwhile Piledriver CPU.
September 11, 2012 · Processors: AMD

Consumed Power, Energy Consumption: Ivy Bridge vs. Sandy Bridge

Trying out the new method.
September 18, 2012 · Processors: Intel
  Latest Reviews More    RSS  

i3DSpeed, September 2013

Retested all graphics cards with the new drivers.
Oct 18, 2013 · 3Digests

i3DSpeed, August 2013

Added new benchmarks: BioShock Infinite and Metro: Last Light.
Sep 06, 2013 · 3Digests

i3DSpeed, July 2013

Added the test results of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 and AMD Radeon HD 7730.
Aug 05, 2013 · 3Digests

Gainward GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST 2GB Golden Sample Graphics Card

An excellent hybrid of GeForce GTX 650 Ti and GeForce GTX 660.
Jun 24, 2013 · Video cards: NVIDIA GPUs

i3DSpeed, May 2013

Added the test results of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770/780.
Jun 03, 2013 · 3Digests
  Latest News More    RSS  

Platform  ·  Video  ·  Multimedia  ·  Mobile  ·  Other  ||  About us & Privacy policy  ·  Twitter  ·  Facebook


26

Copyright © Byrds Research & Publishing, Ltd., 1997–2011. All rights reserved.