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Gigabyte GA-7VT600-1394 Motherboard - AMD 32-bit processing not dead yet

By: Cameron Johnson | Editorials in Motherboards | Posted: Nov 13, 2003 5:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 9.0%Manufacturer: Gigabyte

Features of the Gigabyte GA-7VT600-1394


- Package and Contents



First off the external look of the 7VT600 box is similar to the entire line of AMD boards. This is Gigabyte's main aim motherboard for the AMD sector, so expect to see it on any shelf that stocks Gigabyte products in your local store. Inside the box is where all the goodies are; though this motherboard is value orientated, so don't expect the world on a budget. Inside you get your motherboard, user manual, driver CD and USB/Firewire cable kit. That's all, while pretty small this motherboard does weigh in real cheap on the retail side of things.


- Layout and all that goes with it



Due to VIA's commitment to V-MAP compatible technology, Gigabyte is able to use the same PCB that they have used for their KT333, KT400 and KT400A motherboards with the latest KT600 chipset. The PCB itself is extremely large, as it was designed for adding Serial ATA, Parallel ATA and various other goodies Gigabyte has put on their motherboards in the past. This does create a waste of PCB which can push the costs up; however, no R&D has been wasted on a new PCB, which does balance out the cost in the end.


Expansion slots are a simple one AGP 8x slot that supports 4x and 8x cards and five PCI slots. This is more than enough for today's expansion requirements.


As for placement of connectors on this motherboard, we have no complaints. The 20 pin ATX connector is located behind the colored DIMM sockets right next to the FDD and IDE connectors, which are well out of the way of the case cooling fan placements of 90% of cases.



Now we get to the heart of things. The 7VT600-1394 from the name you can guess is powered by the newest member of the VIA family, the KT600. The KT600 was introduced by VIA on a two step basis - The first was to compete with the nForce2 400 chipset with a 400MHz FSB and official support for DDR-400 memory, AGP 8x bus and a new Southbridge. The second step was to correct the horrid performance and mistakes that the KT400A brought with it.


As mentioned, VIA has push out a new Southbridge for the KT600 chipset which will also appear on the PT800, PT880 and the AMD64 products. The new Southbridge is known as the VT8237. This chip improves on the VT8235 in that it now incorporates an 8 port USB 2.0 controller rather than the 6 port in the VT8235. The other major change is the support for Serial ATA and Serial ATA RAID. While VIA did announce their support for Native Serial ATA support well before any other competitors, Intel beat VIA to market by over four months with its ICH5R. None the less, VIA's SATA Southbridge is here and ready to rock. The remaining features are the same as the VT8235 such as 10/100 Network controller embedded, AC'97 5.1 channel audio support and ATA-133 IDE support.



With a name like GA-7VT600-1394 it would be a bit silly to leave out Firewire support. Since this is a VIA based motherboard, Gigabyte has used the ever popular and powerful VT6306 3 port Firewire controller chip from VIA.



This is one feature we wouldn't have expected on a value board. Gigabyte is now pushing Gigabit Ethernet controllers. Despite VIA not adding a Gigabit Ethernet controller on its North or Southbridge, Gigabyte has used the Realtek RTL8101L PCI Gigabit Ethernet controller.



Gigabyte has included a bank of six dipswitches; these can be used to unlock the Barton and T-Bread B CPU's. This means there is no ratio setting in BIOS unfortunately.


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