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Epox MVP3C2 Super7 Motherboard Review
Last updated: 5/31/2000

JUMPERS.  Other than those needed to configure the CPU, the board has only three more jumpers.  The first one sets the SDRAM at 66 Mhz (which is also the AGP frequency) or the CPU Bus Clock.  If you have a 400 Mhz K6-2 and PC100 memory, simply set this jumper for CPU Bus Clock and the CPU bus frequency for 100 Mhz (and the multiplier to 4X).

The second jumper works in conjunction with an ATX power supply and remote power on/off connector which can be connected to a momentary switch on the front panel of the computer case.  The computer can be turned on or off using the momentary switch.  If the jumper (JP4) is enabled, the system can also be turned-on by pressing a keyboard key for a second or two.  So, with an ATX power supply you turn off the  system power by shutting-down Windows 95/98 and you can turn it back on with the keyboard.

The third is used discharge the CMOS and is located in front of the battery.

MEMORY.  There are three, top-quality, 168-pin DIMM sockets with gold contacts.  The memory is coupled to the CPU by the Northbridge with one  512K, 5 ns high performance Winbond W25P243AF-4A 64X64 SRAM cache' chip.  The three memory slots can accommodate up to 384 Mbytes of PC-100 or 66 Mhz memory; but,  the 512K of cache' with 8 tag bits will only cache' 128 MBytes of it.  128 Mbytes is, therefore, the practical memory  limit. The only other drawback is there are no 72-pin memory slots.  This limits the use of the C2 as a replacement board in the repair of computers with damaged motherboards and existing 72-pin SIMMs, and one reason I don't use it for all such jobs that come into my shop.

SLOTS.  This motherboard has 1 AGP, 4 PCI, and 2 ISA bus expansion board slots.  Neither of the ISA slots are shared with a PCI slot.

HEADERS.  There are header connectors for the following interfaces:

  • USB - two ports.

  • SB Link header for Creative Labs (sound Blaster Link) with SB AWE64D PCI Sound Card.

  • Wake-up on LAN (WOL) enables equipped network interface cards to wake-up the system.

I/O CABLES.  One thing I dislike are short or missing I/O cables.  The printer and serial cables supplied with this board are fine at 10 inches.  The hard disk and floppy cables are "standard," but I would prefer a longer hard disk cable with a longer distance between the master and slave drive connectors; however the cable length is constrained by the ATA specifications (this a problem in most cable sets I've seen).   There is a PS/2 mouse cable and header.  A real negative(!) is the lack of a USB cable and bracket.  This is a serious shortcoming now that USB is common place and cable and bracket sets, compatible with the EpoX USB header, are hard to find.

IN THE BOX.  The C2 comes packaged in an attractive retail box.  This box is good for shipping just the motherboard, but it is not adequate if you add a CPU and CPU fan.  Double box it if you include those items.   In addition to a User Manual for the C and C2 motherboards and a cable set which includes an ATA/66 hard disk cable (80 conductors versus 40),  EpoX has added value to the C2 by including  the following goodies on a CD:

  • A CD with Symantic's Norton Anti-virus and Norton Ghost software.  Ghost is a utility program which you can use to copy images of whole hard disks or indivual partitions.  It can copy and resize Windows 95/98 FAT32 partitions.  Just the ticket for moving everything from you old hard disk to you new computer.

Furthermore, the CD contains Via's 4-in-1 Driver installation program which makes setting-up this board for the various versions of Windows much easier. You do not need the 4-in-i driver for Windows 98 Second Edition.

USER MANUAL.  Overall the manual is to my liking.  EpoX has improved it over the manuals for earlier boards.  It is short, well-organized, and easy to read.  A very good diagram of the motherboard is immediately followed by two pages showing the jumper settings.  CPU multiplier, bus clock, core voltage settings in clear and understandable terms.  The front panel connectors are shown on the motherboard diagram and with larger print a few pages later.  There is no hunting back and forth through the book between the motherboard diagram and the jumper settings.  A more verbose manual might be more appropriate for novices; however, I'm not novice and do not wish to rummage through a lengthy manual.  Two pages on DIMM installation has been added for "dummies."  It should have included anti-static precautions for emphasis where they need to be emphasized, but these are presented at the front of the manual with all of the other mumble jumble one sees and ignores at the front of manuals.

INSTALLATION.   For tips on hardware installation see my article on How to build Your Own Super7 Computer.  VIA's 4-in-1 driver makes software installation even easier.   To be sure you have the most recent versions, you should down-load it from Via's Web site and put it on a floppy before installing the motherboard.  The VIA USB Filter Driver should also be downloaded from VIA and installed (the CD does not have this driver and it is essential if you are going to connect USB devices to your computer).   When Installing Windows 98, I recommend that you omit/remove all expansion boards from the system, except the monitor adapter, install 98, install the above software, and then install any additional boards one-at-time.  After installing and configuring the MODEM and Internet software, the Norton Anti-Virus database should be checked and updated from Norton's AntiVirus Research Center.

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