The market is flooded with lots of KT400 motherboards and with a revived interest in AMD CPU's in the market people are looking for good motherboards to go with their Athlons. The VIA KT400 chipset is a feature rich chipset that compliments the Athlon well. The KT400 is an upgraded version of KT333 chipset, which was released a few weeks before the nVidia's nForce2 got out so that VIA could stay ahead of the competition. Compared to the KT333 the chipset has a lot of new features which include support for 8X AGP, 400 MHz DDR RAM (though not official), USB 2.0, Ultra ATA 133 and 6 channel audio.
Currently in the World market
Even after such an impressive feature set and VIA being all ready to take on the nForce2, it ended up kicking the ass of the KT400. This resulted in VIA's recent release of the KT400A. The nForce2 and KT400A boards are still hard to find in the market here. So we are reviewing the KT400 and there will be a comparison drawn when we get an nForce2 and the KT400A.
There is a small rumour behind the KT400A. Apparently it would have never been released, but since AMD delayed the Opetron and nForce2 was kicking its ass in the market VIA was forced to work on their existing KT400 chipset. Rumours also have it that VIA has its chipset for Opetron all ready for production.
Back to the Gigabyte GA-7VAXP Ultra
The Gigabyte GA-7VAXP Ultra has more features and extras than any other board in the market right now. It also seems to be the most colourful of the lot. Along with the usual KT400 norms it has well almost everything. Here is a list.
1 x AGP universal slot (8X/4X/2X-AGP 2.0 compliant)
5 x PCI (PCI 2.2 compliant)
Rear Panel I/O
PS/2 Keyboard / Mouse connector
2 x USB 2.0 ports
2 x COM ports
1 x RJ45 LAN port
Audio (1 x Line-in / 1 x Line-out / 1 x Mic) connector
1 x Game/Midi port
Internal I/O Connectors
1 x FDD
4 x UDMA ATA133/100/66 Bus Master IDE ports
3 x IEEE 1394 connectors
2 x 2 ports USB 2.0 connector (by front USB ports)
1 x 2 ports USB 2.0 connector (by cable with rear USB bracket)
2 x SATA connectors
2 x cooling fan pin header
With an impressive feature and goodies set like this it is hard not to like this board. But I would like to trust the benchmarks more. I think this is the only board that comes with a Serial ATA rear connection kit.
To run benchmarks you need a test bench. Here is ours, we used the same configuration with our Epox KT333 EP-8K3A+ Motherboard. We ran the gaming benchmarks with all settings on low.
CPU: AMD Athlon XP 2600+
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-7VAXP Ultra
Memory: 512 MB Crucial DDR RAM
Graphics Card: GeForce4 Ti4600
Hard Drive: 120 GB Western Digital 7200 RPM
Optical Drive: Toshiba 16X DVD-ROM drive
Case: ADCOM Lg. ATX Tower, Screwless design/w 300W Power Supply
Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP1
Gigabyte KT400 GA-7VAXP Ultra Motherboard
Epox KT333 EP-8K3A+ Motherboard
In the SiSoftware Sandra benchmarks the KT400 was beaten by the KT333. In the PCMark 2002 benchmark the KT400 had a CPU score of 4694, while the KT333 had a score of 6215. In terms of memory the KT400 scored 2985 points compared to the KT333's 3685, while the HDD score was 1134 points compared to 1155.
Quake III Arena Demo
Serious Sam SE Demo
Unreal Tournament 2003
The KT400 was yes outperformed by a KT333. So should we be all crazy and go ahead and buy a KT400? Er... I don't think so, the KT400 though feature rich and full of goodies, lacks the performance of the KT333 and is also being thrashed by the nForce2 boards. Right now it's a little hard to acquire an nForce2 or KT400A board, so I suggest you wait till either board is available which shouldn't be too long. Another dithering factor is the price, though it is a fully loaded all out motherboard it is quiet expensive at Rs.12,500/-, when compared to other fully loaded boards in the market.
Test Unit Sourced From: Tiupati Enterprise, Kolkatta