EPoX EP-ZX370Y Review
ZX Flavored microATX
The EP-ZX370Y is another in a seeming plethora of new socket 370 mainboards designed with the microATX form factor. Unlike the Baby AT form the processor is located away from the expansion slots, allowing them all to hold full length add-in cards. microATX defines a double height aperture to the rear of the chassis which can be used to host a wide range of onboard I/O. Only the size and position of this aperture is defined, allowing PC manufacturers to add new I/O features to systems. This will help systems integrators differentiate their products in the marketplace, and better meet your needs.
for systems integrators and the low-price systems market, the EP-ZX370Y offers an
excellent feature set coupled with EPoX support and great stability.
Along with one each IDE and floppy cables the system board ships with an excellent User's Manual and CD supplying all of the necessary drivers and patches that the board requires. EPoX also throws in it's excellent USDM hardware monitoring utility.
Designed with Intel's 82443 ZX AGPset, the EP-ZX370Y is heart of a system based on Intel's Mendocino® core Celeron operating at 300-433MHz (@66MHz) on PPGA 370 socket. The board is configured by a set of dipswitches to match your CPU clock speed. The ZX chipset supports up to 256 MB of DRAM (minimum of 16 MB) on board using 168-pin DIMM x 2. It will automatically detect Extended Data Output (EDO) DRAM or Synchronous DRAM memory (SDRAM) at 66MHz.
The EP-ZX370Y comes equipped with one 16 bit ISA slots, three 32 bit PCI slots, an AGP slot and provides two independent high performance PCI IDE interfaces capable of supporting up to four PIO Mode 3/4 and Ultra DMA 33 devices as well as ATAPI (e.g. CD-ROM) devices on both Primary and Secondary IDE interfaces. The EP-ZX370Y supports three PCI Bus Master slots and a jumperless PCI INT# control scheme which reduces configuration confusion when plugging in PCI expansion cards. Using Winbond's W83977EF Multi I/O, the board supports a single floppy port, one parallel port (EPP, ECP), and two serial ports (16550 Fast UART)and includes a PS/2 mouse connector and use of a PS/2 keyboard. The onboard PIIX4E chi provides the means for connecting PC peripherals such as; joysticks, telephone lines, and modems, and supports the Universal Serial Bus (USB) connector. It features Award Plug & Play BIOS. With Flash Memory you can always upgrade to the current BIOS as they are released. The EP-ZX370Y supports remote power-on through external modem, and resume by alarm which allow your system to turn on at a preselected time.
The EP-ZX370Y gets it's Y from the built-in YAMAHA YMF740 PCI sound chip onboard.
The Yamaha chip provides full duplex playback and capture with different sampling rate, 32-voice XG capital Wave table, Synthesizer including GM compatibility and supports OPL3, Sound Blaster Pro, MPU401 UART mode and joystick function. Other features include CPU Hardware sleep and SMM (System Management Mode), hot key power ON function (KBPO), USDM software for motherboard hardware status on Windows 95/98, and supports the CPU and Chassis fan Auto stop in the sleep mode.
The microATX factor is only slight tougher to set up than a regular ATX system board. Due to it's smaller physical dimensions it is a wise idea to install the CPU and memory before fitting the system board into its case. Unlike it's big brother (EP-ZX370A) the area around the CPU is pretty well clear of impediment so an oversized heatsink/fan combo fits easily in place. The external CPU speed (66-100MHz) is auto detected but can be forced to the 100MHz mark by set a single jumper on the board and the clock multiplier is set through a small bank of 4 dipswitches found about dead center on the board. There are a few other jumpers with which you can enable/disable functions like keyboard power ON and enable/disable the onboard sound if you prefer. For the most part though, set up is simple and goes quickly.
Test Configuration for EPoX EP-ZX370Y
|Chipset||Intel ZX AGP set|
|L2 Cache||128kb on-chip|
|Processor(s)|| Intel PPGA370
Intel PPGA370 Celeron 400MHz
|Memory|| 1x64MB PC100
Corsair CM 654S64-BX2
|Hard Drive|| Quantum
6.4G Ultra ATA/33
|Graphics Adapter||Diamond Viper 550 16MB AGP|
|Operating System||Windows 98|
The EPoX EP-ZX370Y generates only slightly lower benchmark scores than the full sized EPoX ATX ZX board. I am constantly amazed at the level of performance attainable by these Celeron CPUs for their low price and when matched up with a good stable mainboard like the EP-ZX370Y, the price-performance ratio is excellent for the low-end market. The system board was tested using Ziff-Davis' Business Winstone 99 performance benchmark, Futuremark's 3DMARK 99 MAX and Quake II's Demo 1 and Crusher FPS for OpenGL gaming performance and the Unreal fly-by FPS in D3D applications. The marks recorded after three runs of each benchmark are then averaged to reflect the scores here
Because this system is designed for the low-end integrated system there are fewer options for overclocking than on the full ATX board but easily pushed the PGA370 300MHz Celeron up to 450MHz and ran as if it was made for it. With 100MHz Celerons just over the horizon this is the kind of stability one should look for in an upgrade board...
I found the EPoX EP-ZX370Y to be an excellent ZX-based board for PPGA Celeron support and approve it as a upgrade integrated system board for stability, manageability and performance. While the Yamaha Sound on board is wholly adequate it just seems to lack the snap of many of the new sound chips but as a low cost upgrade, the board still gets high marks.
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