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Gigabyte K8VT890-9 Motherboard -

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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [03.14.05]
Manufactured by: Gigabyte

MSRP: $83

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Prepare for the Flood

When VIA releases a new Northbridge chipset, it usually doesn't take very long for every motherboard maker on the block to come out with their version of a shipping product. That's because the architecture of VIA chipsets are highly expandable; new Northbridges are almost always compatible with the current Southbridge that are in easy supply.

After some delays, the K8T890 Northbridge is finally making its way to motherboards. For now, it is paired up with the VT8237 Southbridge.

Today we're looking at the Gigabyte K8VT890-9, based on the VIA K8T890 PCI-E chipset. On this board, it is paried up with the VT8237 Southbridge, which was introdued with the KT600 Socket A chipset over a year ago.

Unfortunately, although the boards come out right away, what ends up happening is that they are often dated compared to the competition. That's exactly what happened with the Soltek SL-K890 Pro939 we reviewed last week, which had the exact same chipset combination. Of course, that board had a few other problems, so I'm looking forward to finding out if Gigabyte fared much better.

The K8VT890-9 isn't listed at any stores or price search engines yet, but MSRP is placed at $83, which is incredibly low for a PCI-E motherboard. It doesn't have the features many high end Gigabyte boards have, such as dual bios, extra drive controllers, 6 phase power, and WiFi cards. Make no mistake, this is an entry level board, for new Socket 939 buyers wanting to get in on PCI-E for their new PC (it would be a mistake to build a new system around AGP now).

The Chart

First, I have to show you just how far behind the VT8237 is. Keep in mind that when this Southbridge was introduced, it was with a Socket A Northbridge. It was introduced right around the same time as NFORCE 3.

We'll compare the K8T890/VT8237 combos with the current NFORCE chipset, and Intel's latest. We'll also throw in the VT8251, which will replace the VT8237 on current and future VIA chipsets.

Northbridge VIA K8T890 VIA K8T890 NVIDIA NFORCE4 Intel 925x
NB PCI-E Lanes 20 20 20 16
Chipset Interconnect Ultra V-Link Ultra V-Link (Single Chip) DMI
Peak NB/SB Bandwidth 1.06 GB/s 1.06 GB/s 4 GB/s (Direct HT link) 2 GB/s
Southbridge VIA VT8237 VIA VT8251 NVIDIA NFORCE4 Intel ICH6R
SB PCI-E Lanes 0 2 (Single Chip) 4
SATA Ports 2 4 4 4
RAID Support Yes (-R version) Yes Yes Yes
SATA Speed 150 MB/s 300 MB/s 300 MB/s 150 MB/s
NCQ Support No Yes Yes Yes
Audio Support AC/97 Hi-Def AC/97 Hi-Def

As you can see, the VT8237 lags quite a bit behind its replacement; it only supports two SATA ports, and they lack NCQ support. Audio support is also deficient, calling for only AC'97, although other chipsets have work to do in that department as well.

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