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AMD - EPoX 8KRA2+

EPoX is a relatively small motherboard manufacturer compared to several of its competitors, but it has gained a good reputation for highly overclockable motherboards. EPoX has gained its share of followers in the enthusiast sector, but seems to be struggling a bit to get into the mainstream market, as it’s not a brand you’ll find in many PCs from system integrators.

The 8KRA2+ is based on the VIA KT600 chipset and comes with a good range of features as standard. EPoX has taken advantage of several features sported by the VIA southbridge and you get both S-ATA and 10/100Mbit LAN courtesy of VIA.

Furthermore EPoX has fitted a Highpoint IDE Raid controller, Firewire and EPoX trademark Post80 debug LEDs on the board. The Post80 debug LEDs makes it a fair bit easier to diagnose any problems you might encounter with your motherboard and there is a list of the error codes in the back of the manual.
Sound is provided by a 5.1-channel Realtek ALC655 chipset, which is an updated version of the ALC650.

It’s a shame that EPoX doesn’t include more in the box though, as you end up loosing out on some of the functionality of the motherboard due to the lack or rear brackets. The only two brackets supplied are for Firewire bracket and a game port, which means you have to buy the optional brackets for extra USB 2.0 ports (above the four fitted to the I/O panel of the motherboard) as well as the S/PDIF bracket for the onboard sound. Since most of the other motherboard manufacturers seem capable of supplying these bits as standard with their high-end versions we would expect nothing less from EPoX.

EPoX does however include a copy of PC-cillin antivirus and a copy of Norton Ghost in the box, which does add a bit to the overall bundle. Similar to MSI and several other manufacturers, EPoX offers a Windows based BIOS flash utility that will also download the latest BIOS automatically for you. Yet again we find a very techie manual that doesn’t really give a lot of help to the uninitiated PC builder. It does however contain all the technical info a more experienced user would need. There is also a breakdown of the different BIOS settings, although some explanations are a bit lacking.

The performance of the 8KRA2+ was neither outstanding nor terrible and ended up pretty much in the middle of the field in all the benchmarks. It stood its ground compared to most of the other VIA KT600 based boards, but both AOpen and MSI proved faster in our tests. So where does this leave the 8KRA2+, well it’s a well rounded product that comes with most of the things you would expect with from a modern motherboard at a reasonable price.

Verdict

A very reasonable KT600 based board with acceptable performance, a reasonable price and a decent bundle. Unfortunately it’s just a bit too middle of the road and your money could be spent better elsewhere.

{table:epox8kra2}

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