EP-7KXA Features and Setup
EPoX new Slot-A mainboard supports all of the currently available AMD Athlon processors (500MHz -800MHz).
VIA's 371 North Bridge enables both AGP X4 and 133MHz memory bus frequency support on the EP-EP-7KXA. The memory bus can run at either the CPU's external clock frequency (FSB), which by default is 100MHz, or at FSB + 33MHz asynchronously. The 133MHz memory bus can increase performance as much as 20% in applications which are coded to make efficient use of a high speed memory bus. Unfortunately these applications seem to be few and far between for now but we all know it won't be long. The asynchronous memory bus is reminiscent of the early days of the super7 platform in that it allows end users to retain their current memory (as long as it's PC100) easing the cost of upgrading. The EP-7KXA features three 168-pin DIMM slots which can support up to 768MB of PC100/PC133 SDRAM and is also capable of supporting Virtual Channel SDRAM although getting a hold of this seems to be an impossibility at present, and will support ECC error checking and correction when parity SDRAMs are used.
AGP X4 support in the KX133 is the upgraded stepping VIA introduced in the newest version of its Apollo Pro 133A which fixes most of the bugs apparent in the earlier stepping with AGP X4 compliant graphics cards on AGP X2/X4 universal expansion slots. I was however unable to make ATi's Rage Fury MAXX AGP graphics card work on the system and was informed by EPoX tech support that the only solution was to RMA the system board and graphics card back to the factory were they would resolve and return it. Something to consider before upgrading if you currently use this graphics card.
EPoX EP-7KXA gives users the ability to adjust the CPU core voltage if they so desire through the use of a small 5 station dipswitch block though by default from the factory the mainboard auto detect the core voltage. Settings range from 1.6v to 1.8v in 0.05v increments although the number of switches leads one to expect that there are significantly more undocumented settings. There is also a jumper which can set the external CPU frequency to 133MHz, something that may have advantages in the future but is currently useless. We found the voltage regulation to be significantly higher than the recommended default 1.6v, showing a core voltage of 1.69v in the BIOS even when forced to 1.6v using the dipswitches but this seemed to have little effect on the performance of the Athlons and the system ran on the cool side even with a somewhat standard single fan Global-Win FJK50 cooler (approx 33șC).
For expansion, the KX133's concurrent PCI controller hosts 5 x 32-bit PCI master slots on the EP-7KXA and the 686A South bridge integrates an ISA bridge for the single ISA expansion slot EPoX included to provide legacy support. The 686A also incorporates support for the onboard AMR (audio modem riser) slot, an I/O controller and hardware monitoring circuitry to go along with its dual channel UDMA33/66 IDE controller, four USB port support and BIOS interface. Standard nowadays are the typical pair of 16550 fast UARTs serial ports, and ECP/EPP parallel port, PS/2 keyboard and mouse connectors and floppy port connector.
Other features include wake on LAN and wake on Modem functions, AC '97 onboard PCI sound, power loss recovery and suspend to RAM functions.
Setting up the EP-7KXA is simplicity itself. The User's Manual walks you through step-by-step and even the first time do-it-yourselfer need not be intimidated as there are no confusing jumpers to mess with. The EP-7KXA is a bit wider than most current ATX mainboards and so is quite roomy and easy to get your hands in to connect up all of your devices. There is plenty of real estate between the CPU slot and DIMM slots so you can feel free to use an oversized high performance heatsink/fan combo and once your connections are made you're ready to boot up to configure CMOS Setup. BIOS configuration is well covered in the manual and each screen is thoroughly covered so you'll be ready to install an operating system in hardly any time at all.