In this article we evaluate the performance of an electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) setup using a microstrip resonator (MR). The design and characterization of the resonator are described and parameters of importance to EPR and spin manipulation are examined, including cavity quality factor, filling factor, and microwave magnetic field in the sample region. Simulated microwave electric and magnetic field distributions in the resonator are also presented and compared with qualitative measurements of the field distribution obtained by a perturbation technique. Based on EPR experiments carried out with a standard marker at room temperature and a MR resonating at 8.17 GHz, the minimum detectable number of spins was found to be 5 x 10(10) spins/GHz(1/2) despite the low MR unloaded quality factor Q0=60. The functionality of the EPR setup was further evaluated at low temperature, where the spin resonance of Cr dopants present in a GaAs wafer was detected at 2.3 K. The design and characterization of a more versatile MR targeting an improved EPR sensitivity and featuring an integrated biasing circuit for the study of samples that require an electrical contact are also discussed.