iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






EPoX 4BEAV (i845E) Mainboard 

This is a weird board as it combines gorgeousness and poverty. It uses the aging ICH2 south bridge covered up with the USB 2.0 external controller and a wireless connection set of two Bluetooth modules... The board has a wealth of settings and space for several additional controllers and other interesting options but these controllers are mostly not unsoldered... 


  • Package of a new design; 
  • Documentation: user manual, guide for Bluetooth module - in English; 
  • Cables: 1 ATA66/100/133 and FDD; 
  • Bluetooth module installed onto the mainboard; 
  • Bluetooth module connected to the USB port; 

  • USB cable; 
  • Bracket with an antenna for the Bluetooth module; 
  • Bracket with 2 USB ports; 
  • 2 CDs containing: 
    • drivers; 
    • DirectX 7.0a; 
    • Adobe Acrobat Reader; 
    • System monitoring programs; 
    • Boostek; 
    • Norton Ghost 7.0; 
    • PC-Cillin 2000. 

The layout is not very good: the IDE connectors are behind the PCI slots while the audio-ins are in front of them; the FDD connector located on the left edge and the power supply's connector will hinder cooling of the computer, and an inserted video card creates difficulties in handling memory modules. It's not difficult to reach the only jumper when the board is already installed. Its function is shown on the textolite.

The 3-channel switching voltage regulator incorporates 6 capacitors of 3300 uF and 4 of 2200 uF. 

The following controllers are integrated: 

  • audio controller based on the chipset's capabilities and ALC210A AC'97 codec supporting 4.1 audio systems; 
  • USB 2.0 bus controller based on the VIA VT6202 chip. 
Non-unsoldered connectors: IEEE1394 bus controller and its connectors, network controller and RJ45 connector, SD and MS flash card controllers and connectors, 2 7-segment POST controller diodes, SPDIF connector. 

The system monitoring is supported by the Winbond WT83627HF-AW chip. What is controlled:

  • processor voltage, +3.3, +-5 and +-12 V, VBAT, +5 V Standby; 
  • speed of 3 fans; 
  • temperatures of the processor (a built-in sensor), and the board (a built-in sensor). 
There are 3 connectors for adjustable connection of fans.

Brief characteristics of the board: memory slots - 3 DDR SDRAM; expansion slots - AGP/ 5 PCI; I/O ports - 2 COM/ LPT/ 2 PS/2/ 6 USB 2.0; dimensions - 305x245 mm.

Adjustment can be carried out with: 

jumpers and switchesJumper to clear up the CMOS 
BIOS based on AwardBIOS 6.00PG from PhoenixSetup of memory timings+CAS Latency, Active to Precharge Delay, RAS to CAS Delay, RAS Precharge
Setup of memory frequency+CPU:DRAM = Auto, 1:1, 3:4
Setup of AGP bus- 
Setup of PCI bus- 
Changeable scaler of AGP and PCI buses+AGP (PCIx2) = Auto, 66 MHz, 2/3 FSB
Manual assignment of interrupts+ 
Changeable FSB frequency+90 - 200 MHz in 1 MHz steps
Changeable CPU multiplier- 
Changeable core voltage+from -0.1 to +0.35 V in 0.025V steps
Changeable memory voltage++0.13, +0.26, +0.4 V
Changeable chipset voltage- 
Changeable AGP bus voltage++0.1, +0.2, +0.3, +0.4 V

We used the latest available version of the BIOS of 30/07/2002. 

The only idea that I have in my mind regarding such a strange model is that the original solution was too dear, and the company decided to stripe off all unnecessary stuff to maintain prices on a traditionally low level. However, nothing important for home users is removed, and taking into account a high speed, adjustability and the Bluetooth set, we can recommend it, especially, if you are building a second computer system. 

Test results: 

Dmitry Mayorov (destrax@ixbt.com

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