Physical Features and Layout

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The layout of the new Epox 8KHA+ is exactly the same as that of the original 8KHA. The ATX power connector is located below the majority of the capacitors for power regulation. In a regular mid-tower or above case, I don’t see this as causing any real problems. The CPU socket itself is well placed, but the capacitors that line the west side of the socket A seem too close for easy installation and removal of large, ill-designed heatsinks. The Tai Sol Copper Bottom HSF that I used in my tests didn’t have any problems, however.

Epox 8KHA+ KT266A Motherboard Review - Motherboards 26 The three DIMM slots for DDR DRAM memory are just to the right. Unlike some AMD-760 or 760 MP based motherboards that were having problems using all the memory slots, the Epox 8KHA+ has no trouble when filling all the slots with non-ECC memory. This is good news for those that purchased their DDR DRAM earlier and still have some 128 MB or 256 MB DIMMs lying around. The limit on memory size is 1.5 GB now, which should be more than enough for the life of any computer system. That allows you to have up to 512 MB in each memory slot.

The new KT266A north bridge that give the new 8KHA+ its performance boost is coupled with a new and improved heatsink + fan combination. Replacing the Aavid brand fan is a more reliable and quieter Cooler Master fan. This addition is no doubt there with the overclocker in mind. After all, my KT266A reference board didn’t have active or passive cooling on it (no heatsink and no fan) and it ran default front-side bus without a hiccup. With the power of the HSF that is on the 8KHA+ I can guess that some pretty high FSBs will be reached.

The AGP port is of course a 4x compatible slot and now has the standard Epox retention clip for AGP cards. When comparing this clip to others, I find Epox’s implement to be the best. Those available on Gigabyte boards, for example, have been known to break, and once they do that, you lose all their benefit. This clip is small, isn’t prone to breaking, and doesn’t get in the way of memory slots or fan headers.

The on-board audio that Epox includes isn’t anything special or different from the basic AC’97 audio that the VIA south bridge provides. Most hardware enthusiasts will already have a sound card they use so Epox decided to not spend the extra money on upgrading this option. There are two ATA100 IDE channels and a single Floppy channel. I have been questioned whether Epox will be offering an IDE RAID version of this board, but I doubt it. Without a complete redesign of the layout, there is simply no room for extra IDE connectors or to integrate an IDE/RAID controller. If you absolutely have to have IDE RAID, you will either have to wait for more KT266A options or purchase an add-on PCI card.

The expansion configuration is set in a 6/0/1/0 setting (PCI/ISA/AGP/AMR). Epox has been consistently sticking with this configuration option, and I for one, couldn’t be happier. The lack of an ISA slot may turn a few users off, but most PC enthusiasts have either moved on out of the ISA generation or are prepared to move on their next upgrade. The addition of the PCI slot instead of an AMR slot is also very good for the end-user, as very few people (in fact, I’ve never met one!) use AMR components at all.

One of the best features of this motherboard is simply its use of the KT266A chipset. If you want more information on the technical differences and how VIA could get this much more power out of DDR, read my review of the KT266A chipset.

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