EPoX has made a name for itself in the motherboard market as a company that makes highly overclockable motherboards with a wide range of BIOS tweaks that you donâ€™t find on most other motherboards. The 4PDA2+ is EpoXâ€™s high-end Intel 865PE board and when you look at the wide range of features it lives up to its positioning.
As with most of the boards based on the Intel 865PE chipset the 4PDA2+ features the ICH5R with native support for S-ATA RAID. On top of this EPoX has fitted a second S-ATA controller from Silicon Image that gives you an additional two S-ATA connectors.
Not satisfied with that EPoX has also included a Highpoint IDE RAID controller as well. So, in theory you could connect a total of 12 drives to the 4PDA2+ if you use a combination of IDE and S-ATA.
Youâ€™ll find Firewire with support for three ports on the board, although EPoX has only supplied a bracket for two. The onboard LAN is from Broadcom and is a Gigabit solution. Itâ€™s a shame that EPoX hasnâ€™t taken full advantage of the 865PE chipset and fitted an Intel CSA based Gigabit network chip. The advantage of CSA is that it has its own bus connecting it directly to the chipset and thus doesnâ€™t have to share the slower and more congested PCI bus. A C-Media 5.1-channel audio codec with software Dolby Digital support rounds of a well featured motherboard.
As with most of EPoX high-end motherboards you get a set of Post80 Debug LEDâ€™s that can be very helpful in locating any problems you might experience with your motherboard or any other component fitted to it. It is however a shame that EPoX hasnâ€™t seen it fit to supply all the brackets for all the headers on the board as you end up loosing four USB 2.0 ports, the S/PDIF module is optional and so is the third Firewire port and the second serial port. You at least get a game port on a bracket, but this seems to be the least useful bracket supplied. There are two S-ATA cables included as well as two S-ATA power adapters. You also get a set of round IDE cables in the box.
The manual is up to EpoXâ€™s usual standards, although this might be a bit too technical for some. The only thing missing is a quick setup guide in colour, but EPoX has done better than most. A copy of PC-cillin 2002 and Norton Ghost is supplied on the driver CD, although not the greatest bundle around it is still useful.
The 4PDA2+ managed to keep up in the benchmarks and came out in the top half. This might not be amazing, but when you consider that EPoX is asking for less than Â£100 for this board, it put things in a different light.
This board may have a few issues, but looking at the price of the 4PDA2+ there is very little to complain about. At under Â£100 this board provides a well rounded value orientated package