EPoX EP-MVP4A Review

Super7 Power For The Value PC Arena!

Introduction
When EPox' first news releases, back in November '98, announced the upcoming release of a new mainboard built upon an entirely new super7 chipset, the specs sounded almost too good to be true. Announced by VIA in August '98 but plagued by technical and manufacturing delays, VIA's Apollo MVP4 is the newest System Multimedia Architecture (SMA) PC core logic chipset for Super7 PC systems and the heart and soul of EPoX newest super7 release; the EP-MVP4A. The MVP4 is, at it's simplest, a combination of the VIA's MVP3 Northbridge and an incorporated "high performance" Trident Blade3D 2D/3D graphics controller, paired with VIA's new VT82C686 Super South bridge with audio on board. With the way things change in the PC hardware market, it is somewhat suprising to see that the release of the MVP4 took as long as it did.

mvp4a.jpg (34215 bytes)
It seems more the norm for the product to be released first and debugged later. While EPoX still has a little bit of cleanup to do (mostly on documentation and driver fine-tuning) the EP-MVP4A by all appearances seems to have implemented the new chipset in a truly stable, industry standard ATX system board, designed for the value market. The EP-MVP4A has been manufactured with great care to avoid the multitude problems associated with earlier released system boards based on SiS530/5595. (If I had a dollar for every HelpDesk Request for assistance I have received for PC100, M598 etc. boards, I could retire.) To be sure that this new system board and chipset would truly make the grade, I was considerably more rigorous in the testing process that I put the board through. More about that later. To get a good handle on just what the system board offers, we'll first have to look at the VIA MVP4 chipset.

VT8501 SMA North Bridge

  • Integrated advanced 2D/3D AGP graphics with setup engine and DVD hardware acceleration
  • 100MHz front side / memory bus
  • Advanced ECC memory controller supports up to 768MB PC100 SDRAM, Virtual Channel SDRAM, EDO, Fast Page
  • Compatible with all Socket 7 processors
  • Synchronous/Asynchronous AGP/PCI/memory operation
  • 66/75/83/95/100+MHz FSB capabilities
Northbridge.jpg (4550 bytes)
mvp4south.gif (11857 bytes)

VT82C686 Super South Bridge

  • Integrated AC-97 2.0 (meets PC98 Basic Audio spec.) / SoundBlaster-compatible legacy audio
  • Integrated Super I/O: FDC, parallel port, serial port, IR
    Voltage, temperature, and fan speed hardware monitoring
  • Ultra DMA/33 / ATA-66
  • Advanced mobile PC power management
  • Supports ATAPI compliant devices including DVD devices
  • USB
  • ACPI
  • Compatible with all VIA Socket 7 and Slot 1 north bridges

sysmvp4.gif (19820 bytes)

Of course you have to understand that anytime you force more hardware capabilities into a smaller package, you run the risk of executing those capabilities poorly. This, however does not appear to be the case as regarding the MVP4. While the incorporated 2D/3D graphics in no way reflect the performance you'll find in today's new generation of stand-alone graphics chips, the 3D performance of the MVP4 nearly doubles that of the SiS530 and the business graphics are excellent.

Packaging & Features

 

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