Review Index:

VIA KT600 Motherboard Roundup

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: VIA


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VIA’s natural progression of the motherboard chipsets has at least, been impressive in its diligence. The KT400 and KT400A releases were not the most successful we have seen from VIA, but the newer KT600 chipset is a competitor to the nForce2 chipset from NVIDIA and thus a more viable option for enthusiasts.

We reviewed a reference KT600 board in our look at the Athlon XP 3200+ processor in May of this year. Since then, we have slowly been getting in board sample after board sample from the manufacturers based around the KT600 chipset – it sure seemed that the manufacturers were much more ready to integrate VIA’s latest AMD solution than the previous ones.

The KT600 Chipset

The KT600 chipset is not a drastic turn from the KT400 and KT400A chipsets. The only substantial difference is in the north bridge: it has the ability to accept processors running at a 400 MHz front-side bus (which only the Athon XP 3200+ is capable of). This was a feature that was left out of the KT400A chipset that allowed the nForce2 Ultra 400 chipset to be the lone competitor for a short time.

Another very strong advantage that you will see in the KT600 motherboards is the inclusion of the VIA 8237 south bridge chip. This new addition to the VIA line of chipsets allows motherboard manufacturers to implement two channels of SATA and a RAID setup at a very low cost, as it is integrated into the south bridge. All of our KT600 motherboards that we looked at today took advantage of that feature, and I imagine that nearly all of the retail boards (not just the ones I review here) will have it.

NVIDIA has been slow to react to this attack from VIA technology-wise. While NVIDIA’s road maps have shown an MCP with RAID and SATA built into it, nothing has yet been released in the form of an nForce2 product. Even on the Athlon 64 front, with their nForce3, NVIDIA doesn’t have an integrated SATA solution ready quite yet. VIA is aware of this is advantage and has been delivering it to manufacturers (and thus to end-users) to reclaim some of the lost market share in the enthusiast market.

Now, let’s take a look at the layouts and features of the 9 KT600 motherboards that I am going to be rounding up today…