VIA KT400 Motherboard Roundup
This content was originally featured on Amdmb.com and has been converted to PC Perspective's website. Some color changes and flaws may appear.The 7VAXP is Gigabyte’s attempt to enter the KT400 chipset market. They have several versions of this motherboard, and all that differentiates them is the amount of features that each board includes. There is an upgraded version of the board I am reviewing here that includes Serial ATA as the only difference.
The layout of the 7VAXP board is decent, as you’ll notice from the image below. We looked at revision 1.0 of the board, and it has a generally good component layout. Though the north bridge of the KT400 chipset seems to be close to the processor socket, I didn’t run into any problems during heatsink installation. There is enough room to the left and right of the socket to allow for nearly any heatsink to be installed, provided you don’t need the 4 mounting holes that were removed from Gigabyte’s KT400 board this time.
Click to Enlarge
The north bridge uses a nice quality heatsink and fan that is both quiet and effective in its job of cooling the KT400 chipset. It doesn’t look half-bad either! The three DDR DIMM slots are located close to the chipset and AGP port, but it didn’t cause any problems like you will see in a couple other KT400 motherboards we looked at in this article. The ATX power connector is located beyond the DIMM slots and might become a nuisance if your power cord isn’t long enough. Users of tower cases need not worry, however.
We can also see that the 4 IDE ports (two for IDE RAID), the floppy, additional USB header and memory card connectors are all located and bunched together to the right most edge of the board. While this makes installation of all the cable a bit annoying, it can also be a problem if you have a case that puts these locations behind the IDE drive bays. If so, you will definitely have extra work to do for your system build.
The AGP port has a nice clip design that is easy for installation yet still holds the AGP card stable. There are five PCI slots below them for all the add-in goodness you could want. Below them, we come upon a row of connectors that Gigabyte has included to add value to the 7VAXP. There are two additional USB 2.0 headers and three IEEE 1394 headers for you to upgrade your system with.
As for interface connectors built on, Gigabyte has included standard PS2, USB, serial, parallel and sound interfaces, as well as a 10/100 network adaptor. Though the features set of most KT400 motherboards still will fall short of their nForce2 counterparts, VIA has gone a long way to bridge the gap in features/price ratio in the market.
At first I thought that Gigabyte had completely forgotten about overclocking and performance settings. All they had in the bios was an option for “Top Performance” which could be enabled or disabled. Then, an AMD Forums.com member tipped me off to the fact that by hitting Ctrl-F1 you could unlock the menu for “Advanced Chipset Options” which allows us to change the FSB, Vcore and Vmem settings. On this board, there is also a requirement to set a jumper on the board to allow for 133 vs. 166 MHz bus speeds. The lack of multiplier adjustments here are big negation, though you can change them by cumbersome switches on the physical motherboard. Below you will see a couple bios screenshots of the other options that are available.