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Review of the EpoX 8KHA+ DDR Athlon Motherboard
Last updated: 1/14/2002

LAYOUT.  The 8khA+ is large as most ATX motherboards go, measuring 9 3/4 inches (24.8 cm) from front to back and 12 inches (30.5 cm) wide.  It is a pleasure to work with.  The IDE disk drive connectors are conveniently located at the front of the board and where they are not under drives.  The floppy drive connector is also at the front of the board to the right of the IDE connectors where it is a little more difficult to plug-in the cable because of the proximity to the drives, but that is not a significant inconvenience.  It is better placement than putting it to the left of the IDE connectors as it is rather easy to fold-up and zip-tie all three cables, which then present a good appearance and do not interfere with the CPU fan.  The front panel header is right where it should be: at the very front of the board and to the left of the IDE drive connectors, where it is easy to see and pug-in cables.  The ATX power connector sits behind the VIA Northbridge and to the left of the CPU socket, making it easy to plug-in power and to tie down the cables--I like it there; although, it may appear to interfere with the CPU fan, which it doesn't.  The CPU socket is is nearly half way back on the board where it is out of the way of properly tied cables and right where hot air above it will be sucked into the power supply and out the case, and in a very good location for additional cooling by a case fan mounted in the rear of a case such as an Antec KS282 mid-tower.  There is plenty of clearance all the way around the socket.  There is sufficient room to easily install the rather large Thermaltake Volcano 5 CPU cooler, which I used for all three computers built with this motherboard to date.  The memory sockets are well to the front of the CPU socket and 1 1/2 inches from the front of the board and are fairly easy to get at.  However, I would suggest installing the memory (and the CPU and cooler) before putting the board in a case.  There are only two jumpers on the board: one to clear CMOS and one to set the CPU FSB to 100 or 133 MHz.  Both are rather easy to find and access; however, the FSB jumper, which is just to the rear and right of the AGP socket, would be a little easier to change (the factory setting on the three boards I installed was 100 MHz) before installing and AGP display adapter, and even easier when the board is out of the case.  The three fan connectors are well located and easy to access.  I would plug-in the CPU fan and zip-tie the cable going to it, before plugging-in power connector, and preferably before putting the motherboard in a case.  One USB header, the WOL (Wake-up On LAN), and WOM The other USB, and the AUX, MODEM, and CD-Audio headers are at the rear of the board and are easily accessed, except the CD audio, which is difficult to get at once the AGP display adapter is installed.  Some CD audio cables are not long enough to reach the header unless they are routed under the rear of the AGP display adapter, which must be removed to install the cable if the cable is not installed before the adapter.  With this one minor exception, I rate the layout as excellent--one of the best I've seen.

SLOTS.  This is the first motherboard I have used that does not have an ISA expansion board slot.  I guess the ISA bus is now dead, but I would still prefer at least one ISA slot for a legacy board and fewer PCI slots as a trade-off instead of the six on this motherboard.  Show me a computer with five PCI cards, let alone six, and one USB hub enabled, let alone all three of them, and I'll show you a computer that is probably locking-up with IRQ problems.  The 8KHA+ has a 4X AGP slot and no MODEM riser slot (good).

CPU SUPPORT.  The motherboard supports Thunderbird and Palomino (XP) core processors with 200 and 266 MHz FSBs.  AMD recommends this motherboard for the Athlon and Duron processors through the Athlon XP 2000+ (1.6 GHz), the fastest XP currently in production.*  EpoX's CPU Support list is available here in .pdf format.  We have extensively tested it with Athlon XP 1600+ (1.4 GHz) processors.

*When Engineering Change Notices (ECNs) 01088,  01131, and 01184 are installed.  Hopefully, they are.

MEMORY.  The three DDR-SDRAM slots will take up to a total of 1.5 GBytes of non-ECC PC2100 (2X133 MHz = 266 MHz) memory.

I/O  There are PS/2 keyboard, PS/2 mouse, 1 printer, two serial, two USB, one game/MIDI,  and three audio ports (Speaker, Line-in, and Mic) along the back of the motherboard (the A.3.a, Intel "Universal, "configuration matches all of the ATX cases I have reviewed).  All connectors are of very good quality and color-coded.  The 8KHA+ supports six USB ports.  Two of them are taken to the exterior of the case by the I/O back panel.  The other four are available from two headers on the motherboard.  A USB cable and bracket set is supplied with the motherboard to accommodate one of the headers.  You will need to obtain an optional USB cable and bracket set to bring remaining two USB ports to the outside of the case.  The board has headers for IrDa infrared for remote devices, wake-up on LAN (WOL), and wake-up on MODEM (WOM).

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