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Athlon XP Chipset Shootout - VIA KT400 vs. VIA KT400A vs. nVidia nForce 2

By: Shawn Baker | AMD CPUs in CPUs, Chipsets & SoCs | Posted: Jun 12, 2003 4:00 am




- Package


Moving the motherboard out of the way for the time being we have a look into the package and what comes with it. First up is the host of manuals like every other board including the User Manual, Magic Flash & UDSM User's Manual, Motherboard guide in a host of languages and your Serial ATA RAID user's manual. A floppy cable as well as your driver disc is hidden amongst the bottom of the package.


Moving away from the more boring items we come to find two blue Epox rounded IDE cables that have started popping up in Epox's more recent motherboards. Next up is your game port adapter, two Serial ATA cables and power adapters and finally a firewire header with two Firewire ports on it. All this comes to make a nice little package in a nicely designed box by Epox.




- Layout


Using a 1 AGP / 5 PCI configuration again we see nothing out of the ordinary, moving up you notice the passive cooler on the northbridge and just to the right the memory slots colored so you can easily figure out which slots run in Dual Channel mode and which do not.


The PCB uses rounded edges which we see on a lot of motherboards these days to help prevent any form of injury. The two IDE connectors are placed towards the bottom right as well as the FDD connector. Just above the FDD connector is the 80Port Debug LED which helps with finding issues when booting much easier.





Moving around to the left of the motherboard we find what the Epox gives us, apart from the normal two PS2 ports and com port, we find four USB ports as well as two LAN ports which help give us the ability to bridge multiple network connections together. Finally we have the normal sound ports that we find on most motherboards that have onboard sound; these particular ports are powered by the C-Media AC-97 audio chipset which isn't the best but for people with cheaper speakers and headphones many will find this fine.





nVidia's nForce2 powering the show


nForce2 is nVidia's second attempt at the AMD chipset - this chipset could not be worse then the original which lacked features and was released too late to the market. It looks like nVidia didn't want to make the same mistake twice and have now released one of the most widely known chipsets for the enthusiast market knocking all its competition out.


The main feature behind the new nForce chipset is the inclusion of a rapid new technology called Dual Channel. This gives you the ability to have two memory modules of the same speed and make theoretically double in speed. While for the AMD Athlon platform this is the only chipset it can be found on, while on the Intel side the Granite Bay, Springdale and Canterwood chipset all support it.


- Serial ATA


Epox has offered users not only Serial ATA but the ability to run those drives in RAID. Epox have opted to choose the Silicon Image SATA Link or Sil3112A controller to handle all Serial ATA needs. You can have a maximum of two hard drives running either separately or together depending on if you have the ability to RAID your hard drives or not.



- Dual LAN Networking again


Like the DFI board, we see Dual LAN networking on the I/O panel; this is one feature that has been popping up in more AMD boards and something that isn't essential but useful if its features are desired.



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