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Tyan S2495 Trinity KT400
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Date: Feb 17, 2003
Section:Motherboards
Author: HH Editor
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Tyan S2495 Trinity KT400 - Page 1

 

Tyan S2495 Trinity KT400
More KT400 Madness

By, Tom Laverriere
February 17, 2003


Now that NVIDIA's nForce2 chipset has become mainstream, it seems as though many other AMD based motherboard chipsets just pale a little.  We know at least one chipset maker that would disagree with this of course, VIA.  VIA's KT400 offering has a lot of the same bells and whistles that the nForce2 provides.  With the KT400 you get AGP 8X, DDR400 ( though not guaranteed ), support for AthlonXP 333MHz front side bus processors, USB 2.0, and ATA 133 to name a few.  So, if Dual Channel DDR is not all that important to you, then the KT400 chipset should be.  Although we may not see some of the same benchmark restuls we see from an nForce2 motherboard, the KT400 gives us a fair amount of bandwidth and a lot of integrated features to boot.

Tonight on the test bench, we have Tyan's version of the VIA Apollo KT400 chipset, the S2495 Trinity KT400.  When most of us hear the brand Tyan, the words quality, stable, and no frills come to mind.  However, the Tyan S2495 should put that "no frills" idea to rest.  The Tyan S2495 comes packed with extras.  For starters the Tyan S2495 has two types of RAID support: ATA 133 and SATA 150.  The board comes with onboard 6 channel sound, 4 USB 2.0 jacks with support for 6 total, 10/100Mb/s ethernet, and unofficial DDR400 support.  Tyan has packed this baby tight.  On the other hand, having all these bells and whistles doesn't amount to much, unless you can hear them loud and clear.  In other words, does this board perform?  Let's see if the Tyan S2495 has what it takes to compete in today's agressive AMD based motherboard chipset market.

 

VIA KT400 &The Tyan S2495 Trinity KT400
DDR400 for the Athlon processor

 



Processors

Socket A processor
Supports one AMD Athlon XP/ Athlon / Duron processor supports up to 2600+ CPU

266/200MHz Front-Side Bus Support
 

Chipset
VIA KT400 North Bridge

VIA 8235 South Bridge

Winbond W83697HF LPC I/O chip


Memory
Three 184-pin 2.5V DDR DIMM sockets

Supports DDR 333/266/200 (DDR 400 no guaranty)

Up to 3GB Registered or Un-buffered

 

Integrated LAN Controller
VIA VT6103 10/100Base-TX Ethernet controller

One RJ-45 LAN Connector with LED's


Intetelligent Audio

6-Channel AC'97 audio CODEC (ALC650)

Line-in, Line-out, Mic-in rear jacks

One 4-pin CD-ROM audio header (ATAPI)

One 4-pin Auxiliary audio header (ATAPI)

SPDIF output connector

 

Integrate IDE RAID (Optional)

Highpoint 372N controller

RAID 0, 1, 0+1 supported

Dual channel master mode support up to four ATA 133/100/66 IDE drives

 

Integrated SerialATA (Optional)

Silicon Image 3112 controller

Two SATA ports

 

Integrated PCI IDE

Dual channel master mode support up to four IDE devices

Support for ATA-133 / 100 / 66 IDE drives and ATAPI compliant devices

 

Integrated I/O Interface

One floppy connector supports up to two drives

6 USB 2.0 ports (4 ports on rear panel, 2 ports by pin-header)

One IrDA connector

 

Rear Panel I/O ports

Stacked PS/2 Mouse & Keyboard ports

Stacked two USB 2.0 ports and RJ45 LAN port on top

Stacked two USB 2.0 ports

Two 9-pin UART Serial ports

One 25-pin SPP/ECP/EPP Parallel port

Audio jacks

 

Expansion Slots

One 8X/4X AGP slot (1.5V)

Six 32-bit 33MHz PCI 2.2 slots


BIOS
Award BIOS 4Mbit flash rom

Support APM 1.2 and ACPI 1.0B

PnP, DNI 2.0, WfM 2.0 power management

Jumper free for System overclocking and overvoltage for CPU, memory, AGP buses

 

Power

On board VRM, 2-phase PWM

ATX 20-pin power connector

 

Regulatory

EMI - CE, FCC Class B (others are optional)

WHQL - Windows 2000 and XP

 

Miscellaneous

WOL, STR, Three fan connectors

POST code 7-segment LED display (Optional)

 

Form Factor

ATX footprint (12" x 9.6", 305 x 245mm)
 


VIA Apollo KT400 Architecture

 

   

From the diagram above, we can see that the KT400 Northbridge and the VT8235 Southbridge pack quite a punch.  Although the diagram also shows that DDR 400MHz support is offered by the KT400 chipset, Tyan makes a note in their manual that this particular feature is not guaranteed.  We'll delve into that a bit further, but from first glance this Tyan KT400 motherboard looks feature rich and ready for some benchmarking.  But before we move on to the benchmarks and overclocking, let's take a closer look at what's packed onto this motherboard.


A Closer Look: Tyan S2495 Trinity KT400

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Tyan S2495 Trinity KT400 - Page 2

 

Tyan S2495 Trinity KT400
More KT400 Madness

By, Tom Laverriere
February 17, 2003

 
Tyan S2495 - Up Close and Personal
Under the Hood

The Bundle

There's nothing better than opening up a motherboard box and seeing all the extras that come along bundled with it.  However, the Tyan S2495 didn't pack much inside the box beside the motherboard itself.  Just the basics are there and even that is lacking a bit.  The board ships with one ATA 133 ribbon cable and one floppy drive ribbon cable.  There is also a back I/O panel cover that ships with the board.  Like I said the basics.  There are also a couple of driver disks and a manual.  Although the manual lacks some depth, it is very straight forward and helpful.

Since the board does offer support for six USB 2.0 ports, it would've been nice to see Tyan throw in an additional two USB 2.0 jacks on a rear slot plate, to take advantage of the two USB pin-headers on the board.  The bright side to this is that a lot of cases in today's market, ship with at least two USB 2.0 jacks.  So, if you want to take advantage of all six USB 2.0 ports on this board, then you'd better have a case that sports two USB 2.0 jacks.  Unfortunately, there is no IEEE-1394 firewire support.  Thankfully, the added bandwidth that USB 2.0 provides should be plenty for any external components.  Tyan didn't fill the box with much, but there's enough to get you up and running.  After getting past the bundle, it's always nice to see what the board itself is equipped with.  Let's take a closer look at the Tyan S2495.

 

Under The Scope: Layout and Features

The Tyan S2495 Trinity KT400 carries most features an end user would like to see on today's motherboards.

   

Pictured above is the back I/O panel and the KT400 Northbridge cooler.  The ports on the back panel are pretty straight forward.  We have the PS/2 mouse and keyboard connectors.  Two serial ports and a parallel port are here, as well as four USB 2.0 ports and an RJ-45 LAN jack with LED's.  Also on the back are the audio jacks: a line-in, line-out and mic-in port.  The Tyan S2495 also has a SPDIF out pin-header.  All together, this board offers 6 channel sound.  Tyan chose a blue heatsink to lift the heat off their Northbridge.  It is held in place by two plastic spring clips.  As far as actual contact with the Northbridge chip itself, there is a sticky thermal pad in place under the heat sink.  I'd like to see thermal paste there but a thermal pad is better than nothing.  While in operation the heat sink was warm to the touch so it appeared to be doing a satisfactory job.

 

The layout of the board has some issues but for the most part, it is workable.  The CPU socket itself is guarded on both sides, with other components, which will limit the size of any aftermarket heat sinks one can use to cool the CPU.  On one side, we have can-type capacitors that sit extremely close to the CPU socket and on the other side, just as close, is the DIMM1 slot.  When there is a memory module in the DIMM1 slot, there is only about a half an inch of space between it and the CPU socket.  The board has three DIMM slots which are in the usual location on the upper right hand part of the board, but as I mentioned, a little close to the CPU socket.  The AGP slot is much too close to the DIMM slots and any work with memory modules will require the removal of the video card.  There are four IDE ports on the board.  The two red IDE connectors offer the IDE RAID support and the two blue connectors are your standard primary and secondary IDE slots.  Just to the left of the IDE connectors is the floppy drive connector.  However, the Tyan S2495 motherboard has a pretty straight forward design and I didn't experience any major issues.  The biggest problem I see is not being able to add a larger heat sink on top of the CPU, which may disappoint the overclocker inside of us.

The board itself offers some very nice features.  Both IDE RAID support ( RAID 0, 1, 0+1 ) and Serial ATA RAID support are on this board.  The IDE RAID is offered by the onboard Highpoint 372N controller, while the SATA RAID is handled by the onboard Silicon Image 3112 chip.  Offering two different kinds of RAID support is an excellent feature, especially since hard drives have become very affordable and a RAID array is much more realistic these days.  There is an AGP 8X/4X slot and 6 PCI v2.2 expansion slots, so there is plenty of room for add in cards, if you feel the need.  The 6 channel onboard audio is provided by the ALC650 CODEC.  Although I can't say the sound is as impressive as the nForce2 solution, it does do a good enough job for most pc enthusiasts.  Only true audiophiles will feel the need for an add in sound card.  Ethernet is powered by the VIA VT6103 and is of the 10/100Mb/s variety.  As far as hardware monitoring goes, the board has three fan pin-headers, but only two of them are monitored in the BIOS.  There is also an LED display to post boot codes.  Wow, that was a lot to mention.  I wasn't kidding when I said Tyan dumped a lot of goodies on this board.  Let's take a look at the bios and see what we can tweak on this board.

The BIOS

Tyan went with an Award BIOS to drive this particular board.  While this BIOS does offer some good choices for those interested in overclocking, I don't feel it will give all the necessities for getting an extraordinary overclock.  Let me first start by saying that this is as stable and solid a motherboard at default settings, that I have had the pleasure of working with.  With that said, let's talk about what options one does have when attempting to overclock this motherboard.  There are voltage adjustments for the CPU in 0.25V increments all the way up to 2.2V!  Plenty of room to give that CPU some extra kick, although this will be limited by the fact that a larger heat sink will not be there to offset the increased heat from such a voltage adjustment.  The DIMM voltage is adjustable in 0.025V increments up to +0.175V.  This will give that extra needed power to hit the DDR400 plateau perhaps, on modules that aren't up to the challenge at default voltage.  The CPU clock can be adjusted anywhere between 100MHz to 200MHz by keying in a value.  I would've like to see this board support a FSB higher than 200Mhz, but we'll have to make do.  The CPU multiplier can also be adjusted anywhere in the range of 5X to 22.5X.  I think this is one of the best choices to have in the BIOS because this gives you the best opportunity to hit that sweet spot for both the memory and CPU overclock, as long as you have modified those Athlon traces and unlocked your CPU.  Besides voltage, the DIMM timings can be adjusted.  There are quite a few timing variables that are adjustable such as CAS Latency, Bank Interleave, Precharge to Active, etc.  To make a long story shorter, all the DIMM timings you need are there to push those memory modules to the fullest.  There is also a PC Health Status screen to monitor the temp of the CPU and motherboard as well as fan speeds and various voltages.  The power on this board seems to be adequate as the default Vcore comes in at 1.61V and Vagp registers at 1.53V.

While this bios offers some very strong points for overclocking there are some shortcomings as well.  For instance, neither the PCI nor AGP bus speeds are lockable.  So any increase to the FSB will, in turn, crank up the bus speed to both the PCI and AGP slots.  This will create some instability with high overclocks and could possibly be the limiting factor to a higher overclock.  There is no AGP voltage adjustment which further hinders any increase to the AGP bus.  I think the most limiting factor to this board, however, is its inability to set DDR400 with a FSB over 133MHz.  When you enter the Frequency/Voltage Control menu, there is a DRAM timing setting which can be set to By SPD, 133, 166, and 200MHz.  The only problem with this setting is that it is locked as soon as you enter a FSB value greater than 133MHz.  Sadly to say, since I'm testing this board with an Athlon XP 2600+ 333MHz FSB chip, I can only try and reach the DDR 400MHz setting by getting the FSB to 200MHz.  Not an easy overclock with a stock AMD heatsink/fan or any heatsink/fan really. 

In summary, the BIOS offers some nice settings, but lacks the features to make it a pure overclocker's board but then again, that is not the be all end all, is it?  Nonetheless, this board proved to be extremely solid.  Moving away from the BIOS, let's take a look at our setup and the benchmark results as well as what stable overclock I was able to achieve.  You will probably be surprised!

Setup and Benchmarking

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Tyan S2495 Trinity KT400 - Page 3

 

Tyan S2495 Trinity KT400
More KT400 Madness

By, Tom Laverriere
February 17, 2003

 

To test the Tyan KT400 in its 3D gaming performance, we used the latest versions of Comanche and Quake 3 Arena.  Quake 3 may be a little outdated, but still gives a good idea of memory bandwidth performance in a system.  All tests were run at default and overclocked settings.

 

Quake 3 and Comanche 4
OpenGL and Direct 3D Gaming Performance

Here we can see how important memory bandwidth is.  The nForce2 boards have managed to pull ahead by about 15% once again.  The KT400 simply cannot keep up with the dualDDR performance of the nForce2 chipset.  The frame rates we are seeing from the KT400, however, are still very respectable and would offer a very satisfactory gaming experience. 

 

Comanche 4 is not as dependent on memory bandwidth like Quake 3, and is more dependent on CPU cycles.  We can see this by the fact that the nForce2 boards did not keep the same lead in this benchmark, as we saw in previous tests.  Here the nForce2 boards only managed a 9% performance gain.  Obviously the increased memory bandwidth explains the advantage, but in this benchmark, does not provide as much as an upper hand.  The KT400 chipset's performance is still admirable and more than sufficient for today's daunting tasks.

 

Unreal Tournament 2003 and The Ratings

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Tyan S2495 Trinity KT400 - Page 4

 

Tyan S2495 Trinity KT400
More KT400 Madness

By, Tom Laverriere
February 17, 2003

 

We'll wrap it up with a benchmark round from Unreal Tournament 2003.  We utilized a simple benchmark script that does "Fly By" demos on the Antalus, Asbestos and Citadel levels.  We set the resolution to 640X480, so as to take as much of the workload off the GeForce4 as possible and place it on CPU and System Bandwidth.

Unreal Tournament 2003
DirectX 8 Gaming Performance

 

I

 

Here we are seeing some impressive numbers in these benchmarks.  The Tyan S2495 motherboard keeps close to the nForce2 motherboards in the Antalus and Citadel Fly-by's but falls pretty far behind in the Asbestos Fly-By.  I would imagine that the Asbestos Fly-By is much more memory and CPU intensive than the other two fly-by's, thus taking advantage of the added memory bandwidth that the nForce2 chipset provides.  In any case, the Tyan S2495 is putting up some great frame rates and handles Unreal Tournament 2003 without breaking a sweat.

 

 

The Tyan S2495 KT400 motherboard is one of the most stable motherboards we have tested in a long time.  Not once through all of the testing did our motherboard crash.  You may be asking why we did a comparison to the nForce2 chipset.  It was only four to five short months ago that the VIA KTXXX chipsets were considered by most to be the leading offering in the AMD field.  Nothing could match the performance or the features that the KTXXX chipsets offered.  Now that the nForce2 chipset with its Dual DDR support has come into play, we have seen a new leader evolve.  This comparison shows, what we would like to believe is the passing of the torch, as far as the past chipset leader (KT333/KT400) to the new chipset leader (nForce2) and as far as AMD processors are concerned. 

Tyan S2495 Trinity KT400 Analysis:
The Tyan S2495 Trinity KT400 board is quite an offering.  Many people seem to have forgotten that the KT400 chipset offers so much and the Tyan board takes full advantage of the KT400 chipset's abilities.  This motherboard offers AGP 8X, DDR400 support (not guaranteed), USB 2.0, 10/100Mb/s LAN, Onboard 6 channel sound, IDE RAID, SATA RAID and much more.  Besides this board being packed full of goodies, it also offers top notch performance.  The Tyan S2495 managed to perform without a glitch and is as stable a motherboard as we've have seen.  I think this board is a perfect match for anyone looking for a feature packed board that will perform as solid as a rock from day one.   Although it is not an overclocker's dream, it also offers some good overclocking abilities, for those looking to push the envelope a little further.  If what you're looking for is a stable motherboard with loads of features, then take a look at Tyan's new S2495 Trinity.

 

  • Rock solid

  • Good value

  • SATA RAID and IDE RAID support

  • AGP 8X

  • Supports 333MHz Athlon chips

  • USB 2.0

  • Onboard 6 channel sound

  • DDR400 support not guaranteed
  • Missing some overclocking features
  • nForce2 is available for same price

 

We're giving the Tyan S2495 Trinity KT400 a HotHardware Heat Meter rating of 8.

 

Discuss this or any other Hot Hardware Review in the PC Hardware Forum!
 

 

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Tyan S2495 Trinity KT400 - Page 5
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