Market Survey, Part 1: A Comparison Of The Latest Pentium 4 Motherboards

Epox EP-5EGA+ (Intel 915G)

The classic green tone of Epox' motherboard designated EP-5EGA+.

Epox decided to equip the 5EGA+ for the exclusive use of DDR400 memory. That makes sense, as the product is not geared primarily towards enthusiasts anyway, with its 915G chipset and integrated graphics.

No driver diskettes were included for the RAID controller (ITE or ICH6R). Epox instead refers you to the CD, and advises to make them yourself. That's fine if you have an existing machine, of course, but it usually wouldn't be possible when putting together a new computer. The program Magic Flash allows you to update the motherboard's BIOS in Windows XP, eliminating the hassle of booting from a DOS diskette.

Epox includes something they call the "Powerpack," a name we consider a slight exaggeration. It is really only a small, versatile screwdriver, eight miniature stick-on cooling units, and a thermal diode for measuring system temperature. We do not recommend using the included adhesive pads here, as in our experience this approach has not always been reliable over the long term. The worst-case scenario would be if the cooler came loose, causing other components to short-circuit. (We have to wonder why the question why the manufacturer didn't just attach the cooler during production using thermally conductive adhesive.)

Epox is one of the few manufacturers to furnish its boards with four PCI slots; the latest Intel boards usually only have two or three slots, which is not enough for users having many expansion cards. Also found here are the UltraATA RAID controller from ITE mentioned earlier, a Marvell PCIe network chip, and Epox' veteran port 80 debug system. Other plus points: both chipset components are passively cooled. The main sockets, plugs, and ports are also color-coded.

The EP-5EGA+ exhibited no negative characteristics at any time during our testing.

Epox EP-5EGA+ (Rev. 0.5)
Platform Socket LGA775
Northbridge Intel 915G (onBoard VGA)
Southbridge Intel ICH6R
BIOS (12/22/2004)
Memory DDR400
Connectors onboard/panel
USB 2.0 4 / 4 (optional)
IEEE1394/Firewire none / none
Serial COM Port none / 1
Parallel LPT Port 1 / none
Game none / 1
LAN 1 / none
WLAN none / none
SATA 4 / none
Audio analog 8 / none
Audio digital 2 / none
Connectors onboard only
PCIe 16x 1
PCIe 1x 2
IDE (PATA) 3 (6 channels)
Fan 4 pins (CPU) 1
Fan 3 pins (System) 2
Mass Storage Controller
ICH6R 2x IDE (ATA100)
4x SATA (RAID 0,1,0+1)
ITE 8212F IDE RAID 2x IDE (ATA133 RAID 1,0,0+1)
Marevell 88E8001-LKJ PCIe 1x 1 Gbit/s LAN
Realtek ALC850 AC97
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