Intel's 865/875 Superior Performance Song Remains the Same

Epox 4PCA3+

BIOS Version: 319

Epox went all out on the features for the 4PCA3+. The manufacturer exploits all of the major potential of the 875P chipset from Intel - only in the case of the network chip does it go with a PCI model from Broadcom. Its truly unique feature is the HPT374 from HighPoint, which offers four channel UltraATA/133 and even support for RAID 5. Thus you can run up to 14 hard drives on the 4PCA3+, if you count the two SATA ports on the ICH5R. But that would be close to impossible to cable together in any reasonable way using mechanical means.

The controller is nonetheless interesting for power users and those who want to set up an economical server with a RAID-5 array at home or the office. Yet the controller also becomes tricky to use if you want to use several long PCI cards that would then get in the way of the ATA cables.

Four-phase voltage regulators are de rigueur in this performance class - and Epox doesn't skimp here either. Yet three fan connectors may soon prove too few for such an ambitious board: the CPU heat sink requires one and the other two are generally occupied with case fans.

A Flash tool is built into the BIOS: all you have to do is insert a disk with a BIOS file and the rest practically takes care of itself. The BIOS is up to date and offers the usual overclocking options up to a speed of 250 MHz FSB, taking into consideration the impact of all three essential supply voltages for CPU, main memory and graphics card.

Too bad the Epox board has a hard time correctly judging the 13 different memory types used. In most cases the timings selected were consistently too slow - they had to be manually adjusted to avoid an unnecessary loss in performance.