OCplus Epox8K3A MB review




This review was kindly made possible by:

March 24-2002




First Look:

This is the retail version of the EPOX 8K3A , non raid version , most of the reviews on the web were on the pre release versions . There are a number of features that I like on this MB and a few I dont like . What I liked was , the low cost , the serious performance boost when compared to KT133a chipset , the 2.2v max to the cpu , and dare I say the onboard sound which is more than good enough for game play and listening to MP3's. This MB is fully jumper less , and all overclocking and tweaking is done through the bios , and talking about overclocking , this is what I did with this MB most of the time. Now for the things I didnt like , with the placement of the HDD leads etc it can be hard to get to your ram , and the second thing is the capacitors around the socket , my ARKUA 7528 was a tight squeeze to say the least , and large cooler lovers may find themselves buying a new cooler to run on this MB , I dont have one on me , but the Volcano 7+ might be about the largest cooler  that may go on this MB , it just might pay to check this out before you buy . 

The last thing is the placement of the socket itself , I personally found my power leads from the power supply crossing over the socket , ouch if one should be caught by a fan blade , anyone for fried cpu. 

The best for last , in the bios you have the option to enable auto shut down when the cpu reaches a certain temp , personally I chose 60deg Celsius , so just in case a power lead should be caught in a fan blade , NO fried cpu . You have to like that , right !

Installing the Board :

No problems here , in fact the Epox user manual has to be one of the best Ive seen in a while , so take your time , read through it a few times , and installing the MB should be easy . The only thing that got me was when first powering up the mother board it just beeped at me , so I turned it of . Tried to find something in the user manual that would explain what happened ( no I didnt read the manual ) . Gave up and powered up the MB again , no problems , it fired up and clicking on the delete key I went straight into the bios and set it up  the way I wanted things . So no real dramas or surprises , just keep in mind that the first time you fire up this board it might beep at you , rather than start up .


Supports Socket A Processors.
AMD Athlon & Duron.
VIA Apollo KT333 AGPset.
I/O Controller.
1 Floppy drive controller,
1 Parallel port (EPP, ECP),
2 Serial ports.
2x USB 1.1 connectors (2 more as option).
Award PnP BIOS. Flash upgradeable.
120MB ATAPI floppy drive and ZIP support!
Standard ATX form factor.
305mm x 245mm ATX.
UltraDMA-100+33 EIDE Controllers. (Up to 4 IDE devices).
Backwards compatible with PIO mode 3/4 & UltraDMA-33/66/100.
3x DDR-SDRAM Slots for PC2700.
3GB max. supported.
PS/2 connectors.
1 PS/2 mouse, 1 PS/2 keyboard.
6 (32-bit) PCI, 1 AGP.
AGP supports 1x, 2x and 4x  modes.
Built-in AC97 Digital Audio (by VT8233A/8235) :
Dual full-duplex Direct Sound channels
FM synthesis for legacy compatibility
Supports game and MIDI port

Extended Functions

Supports Hardware Monitoring Function by W83697HF
Supports exclusive KBPO (KeyBoard Power On)
Supports CPU Vcore setting via BIOS
Supports Memory Voltage setting via BIOS
Supports CPU Clock setting via BIOS
Supports STR (Suspend To RAM) power saving Function
Supports CPU Multiplier setting via BIOS
Supports Wake-On-LAN Function


Performance: System specs: Epox 8K3A , 256meg pc2700 DDR ram , XP1700 @ 1.53ghz , Seagate 7200 ATA100 HDD , GF2 titanium .

Well I was a happy KT133a chipset owner , the KT333 is a serious kick in the pants as far as performance gains go , for you KT266a owners , the performance gains from upgrading to KT333 is , subjective at best , the gains are there but hardly worth jumping on a rooftop and crowing about , esp with the KT400 chipset only a few months away . Benchmarking the memory with SisoftSandra 2002 gave :

RAM Int Buffered aEMMX/aSSE Bandwidth 2141 mb/s

RAM Float Buffered aEMMX/aSSE Bandwidth 2023 mb/s

Scores from SISOFTSANDRA 2002 .

The VIA KT266 Pc2100U CL2 DDR = 1925/1767

The VIA KT133 Pc133 CL2 SDram = 989 / 954


Now compared to my KT133 chipset MB the Epox 8K3A just kills it , Looking at 3Dmark2001 scores to see what type of real world gains you get , with my GF2 titanium , on the A7v133c my benchmark scores were around 44003Dmarks , moving up to the 8K3A the scores jumped up to 4990 3Dmarks , this with my cpu at the same 1.53ghz clock speed .


Now this is what this MB is all about , right , Overclocking . With up to 2.2 volts to play with , you better make certain that your cooling is up to the task . I swapped in my Arkua 6228 for some seriously hot work . The first thing I tried was to push the ram Harder , in the BIOS you have 4 settings for the ram , Normal , Fast , Fastest and Turbo . Well I set the ram for fast and benchmarked with 3dmark2001 and Sisoft Sandra 2002 , no gains , ??? . Next I tried Fastest , the system locked up on the 3dmark benchmark test . OH well , so the rams not the best . Setting the ram back to Normal , it was time to see how high I could push the FSB , I got up to 155mhz ( thats 310mhz FSB to you DDR types ) Now if you want you can increase the Dimm voltage to increase stability at higher FSB speeds , I went from 2.5v to 2.6v , keeping in mind that this hardware is on loan to me .

With my XP1700 only giving a maximum multiplier of 11.5 for me to play with , it means that increasing FSB is the only way left for me to go . Stock speed for this cpu is 1466mhz , I normally run it at 1.53ghz , and on the Epox 8K3A I almost got 1.7ghz from the XP1700 cpu . At 1691mhz ( 147mhz bus ) @ 1.95v the puter booted all the way but locked up after entering in the password . At 1680mhz ( 146mhz bus ) @ 1.95v my puter booted and ran but would not do a 3Dmark2001 benchmark , the software simply dropping off ( more voltage needed , I didnt feel like pushing 2v through the cpu , as it was already doing 49deg Celsius , and Im real anal about having my cpu go over 50deg C ) . At 1667mhz  ( 145mhz bus) @ 1.95v everything went smoothly , 3dmark2001 returning a benchmark score of 5148 3Dmarks . Wow ok , my GF2 ti doing over 5000 3Dmarks , didnt think I would see it . So I overclocked the card to 286mhz Core and 458mhz Memory . Surprise , surprise , the 3Dmark2001 score was 5670 3Dmarks . Whoa , now thats a seriously good score for a GF2 titanium .

Conclusion :

Still got the Epox 8K3A in my puter , I installed the TV Excel card in so that I could capture the pics for this article , no problems what so ever , the drivers installed the card and after rebooting , runs like a swiss watch . Ok there are a few things I didnt like , none of them a deal breaker  , the board went in easy , runs well and has not given me any problems , a serious performance boost over the KT133a chipset , and overclocking features a plenty . My main concern is with the lack of space around the socket , fitting a large cooler may require a crowbar, everything else I can live with . If I can find a buyer for my Asus A7v133c + 1ghz unlocked T-bird I just might buy this MB . I give this MB   9 out of 10  , Please Epox , more space around the socket . Otherwise an excellent  overclocking MB that should appeal to hardcore overclockers everywhere , I can honestly recommend the EPOX 8K3A  to anyone looking to upgrade to a KT333 chipset , well done EPOX.

I would like to thank Andrew Shiau from MSY for making this review possible.

Matt Korhonen