Soyo SYKT400 Dragon Ultra vs. Shuttle AK37GTR - HotHardware

Soyo SYKT400 Dragon Ultra vs. Shuttle AK37GTR

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Soyo SY-KT400 Dragon Ultra vs. Shuttle AK37GTR
Showdown at the KT400 Corral!

By, Robert Maloney
November 6th, 2002

As another season comes upon us and another new chipset from VIA technologies is released into the market.  It seems like only yesterday (OK, January) that we were building our latest powerhouses based on the KT266A chipset.  Then along came the KT333, but it brought only a minor performance improvement.  Originally touted as having DDR400 as well as AGP 8x support, the KT400 was much anticipated as the next best thing since sliced bread, for the Athlon.  Early on, however, VIA dropped the DDR400 support, due to compatibility and performance issues.  Also, from what we have seen, AGP 8X is not bringing the great performance boost we had hoped for. 

Due to increased competition however, motherboard companies were quick to incorporate KT400 chipsets into their new releases, but are they really ready for the market?  Today we match up two motherboards based on the VIA KT400, the Soyo SY-KT400 Dragon Ultra and the Shuttle AK37GTR.  Both boards come packed with a slew of features as well as colored PCBs, catering to the performance nuts, as well as being aesthetically pleasing to the modding crowd.

Specifications / Features
Let's bring out the contenders!

Soyo SY-KT400 Dragon Ultra
 

 

CPU
AMD Athlon and Duron Processors with 200/266 FSB

AMD Athlon XP Processors with 266/333 FSB


Chipset
VIA KT400 North Bridge

VIA VT8235 South Bridge

Memory
Three DDR 2.5V DIMM sockets
 supporting up to 3GB DDR333/266/200 or 2GB DDR400


IDE

Two PCI bus-mastering IDE ports supporting up to PIO mode 5
 and Ultra DMA 66/100/133

Two IDE channels for onboard RAID 0/1/0+1

Optional serial ATA support through riser card

Audio
On board CMI8738 audio chip providing 6-channel sound

Supports optical and S/PDIF output

System BIOS
2Mbyte AWARD BIOS with ACPI function

Expansion Slots
One 8X/4X AGP 1.5V (Accelerated Graphics Port) universal slot
Five PCI v2.2 32-bit Bus mastering PCI slots

LAN
Davicom DM9161 10/100

Internal I/O Connectors
Floppy port supporting 1.2/1.44/2.88MB FD 
Two RS-232 serial ports (16550 UART compatible)
Parallel printer port supporting SPP/EPP/ECP mode
IrDA connector
6 USB 2.0 ports (2 Rear/4 Front)

Back Panel I/O
Two PS/2 connectors (keyboard and mouse)
Two 9-pin Serial port
One 25-pin SPP/ECP/EPP Parallel port
Two USB 2.0 ports
3 Audio connectors (Line-out, Line-in, Mic-in)
One RJ45 LAN port
One Game port

Miscellaneous

ATX form factor
30.5 cm x 24.5 cm (12" x 9.6")
Six mounting holes


Package Contents
Soyo SY-KT400 Motherboard
Drivers and Utilities CD
8-in-1 CD including Norton Anti-Virus 2002, Ghost 2002, Adobe ActiveShare, Acrobat Reader, WinDVD 2000,
 and trials of AutoSave and Imagemore
Installation Manual
S/PDIF audio bracket
Sigma Box with Compact Flash/Smart Media slots
 and two front USB 2.0 ports
Three ATA 133 IDE Cables
Floppy Cable
I/O shield

Shuttle AK37GTR

CPU
AMD Athlon and Duron Processors with 200/266 FSB

AMD Athlon XP Processors with 266 FSB


Chipset
VIA KT400 North Bridge

VIA VT8235 South Bridge

Memory
Four DDR 2.5V DIMM sockets

 supporting up to 4GB DDR400/333/266/200

IDE

Two PCI bus-mastering IDE ports supporting up to PIO mode 5
 and Ultra DMA 66/100/133

Two IDE channels from Highpoint 372 for onboard RAID 0/1/0+1

Two serial ATA ports using onboard Marvell 88i8030 Serial ATA bridge
with RAID 0/1 support


Audio
On board Realtek 650 audio chip providing 6-channel sound

Supports Digital S/PDIF input/output

System BIOS
2Mbyte AWARD BIOS with ACPI function

Expansion Slots
One 8X/4X/2X AGP 1.5V (Accelerated Graphics Port) universal slot
Five PCI v2.2 32-bit Bus mastering PCI slots

LAN
LAN controller VT6103

Internal I/O Connectors
Floppy port supporting 1.2/1.44/2.88MB FD 
Two RS-232 serial ports (16550 UART compatible)
Parallel printer port supporting SPP/EPP/ECP mode
6 USB 2.0 ports (4 Rear/2 Front)

Back Panel I/O
Two PS/2 connectors (keyboard and mouse)
Two 9-pin Serial port
One 25-pin SPP/ECP/EPP Parallel port
Two USB 2.0 ports
3 Audio connectors (Line-out, Line-in, Mic-in)
One RJ45 LAN port
One Game port

Miscellaneous

ATX form factor
30.5 cm x 24.5 cm (12" x 9.6")
Six mounting holes


Package Contents
Shuttle AK37GTR Motherboard
Drivers and Utilities CD
Installation Manual
HPT 372 Raid Administrator's Manual
Audio bracket for Central and Bass out
1 bracket with additional 2 USB 2.0 ports
Two ATA 133 IDE Cables
One serial ATA cable
Floppy Cable
I/O shield


A brief description of the VIA KT400 Chipset:

The block diagram for the KT400 chipset, hasn't changed much versus the KT333 of old.  However, there are a few new enhancements which should give the chipset a new set of legs for the current generation of Athlons as well as next generation graphics cards.  Unfortunately, the chipset name is a little misleading in that the chipset doesn't actually officially support DDR400 speeds.  However, that doesn't stop motherboard manufacturers from offering the setting in their BIOS.  The real question is, does this setting offer any real appreciable performance improvements?  We'll delve into that later in this article. 

Beyond the memory bus, the KT400 boasts AGP8X support for next generation graphics and a whole host of the latest interface technologies, including USB 2.0.  Also, VIA's V-Link Southbridge/Northbridge Bus, has been cranked up a bit to reach 533MB/sec bandwidth levels, which should theoretically help with disk IO performance a bit as well.

 

Key Features of the KT400:

  • Supports AMD Athlon XP processors

  • 200/266/333 FSB settings

  • AGP 2x/4x/8x support

  • Support for up to 4GB DDR200/266/333 DDR SDRAM

  • 8x V-link 533MB/s bandwidth interconnect

  • Integrated 6-channel audio

  • Integrated 10/100 Ethernet

  • Support for ATA 33/66/100/133 drives

  • USB 2.0 Support

The boards, a closer look... 

 
 

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