Impressions and Conclusions
If there’s anything you’re going to take away from today’s review of the EPoX EP-8NPA SLI is that you don’t need a super high-end system to get great gaming performance. The combination of a cheaper motherboard and support for cheaper CPUs means EPoX has empowered the general and budget-conscious consumer with access to the same blazing-fast game performance that gamers have been enjoying for the past year.
Our testing the EP-8NPA showed that it was a little slower in games compared to the Socket 939 SLI counterpart by about 10-15% which is small when it translates to about 5 – 8 FPS in reality. In general applications and testing, the EP-8NPA was similar to other Socket 754 motherboards we have tested here in the past.
The EP-8NPA as a Socket 754 Upgrade
I know many of you own Socket 754 systems and wondering if you can put it to good use beyond just a simple desktop machine, now you can with the EP-8NPA SLI. Just by buying a new PCI-Express video card, you can allow yourself new experiences in gaming, though your regular desktop performance will remain roughly the same. I think products like the EP-8NPA will become increasingly popular as technology matures and users find themselves with a Socket 754 system that they wish to do more with.
The Decline of Socket 754?
While the EP-8NPA SLI is an excellent product, it may not be for everyone. The biggest concern would be the Socket 754 form factor. If you’re really concerned about upgrade flexibility, then Socket 754 will not offer much since you’re limited to Sempron CPUs (unless you pay much more for Socket 754 Athlon 64).
Also, some of you may be wondering how long the Socket 754 will remain on the market. According to Ryan’s last road map the Socket 754 is slated to dwindle some time in 2006, so it won’t surprise me to see Socket 939 Semprons this time next year.
But if you don’t care much about Socket formats and their longevity, then there are many good reasons for buying the EP-8NPA.
The EPoX EP-8NPA SLI is a very interesting motherboard with a great set of features even with its economical treatment. It has all the basics you would expect for a great gaming motherboard with detailed system health monitoring and controls, superb overclocking features, and of course a cheaper price tag compared to Socket 939 SLI boards.
It’s worth keeping VIA K8T900 motherboards in mind. The price of K8T900 boards will compete in the same range as the EP-8NPA SLI. If VIA can get NVIDIA’s SLI certification, it will mean tougher competition for this mighty, little nForce 4 SLI motherboard.
There are some issues to consider with respect to the socket and memory support on the EP-8NPA SLI, but you also have to remember that the money saved on a cheaper Socket 754 CPU can be used on getting a much better video card (or two if you want SLI).
Are you looking to game on a budget? EPoX has given you the keys to a cheaper high-end gaming system, why not take the EP-8NPA SLI for a spin.