Since the release of AMD's Socket 939 processors, motherboard manufacturers have wasted little time transitioning to the newer design, but that doesn't mean previous AMD platforms are now completely obsolete. Like the older Athlon XP, the 754 pin Athlon 64 processors still have some life left as a relatively economical alternative. With the newer socket 939 processors selling in the $500+ price range, the socket 754 platform can be an attractive substitute for the higher priced newcomers, with prices hovering in the $200 range. Although they lack a dual channel (128-bit) memory controller, socket 754 Athlon 64s are still robust processors capable of running virtually any application currently available at very high performance levels.
When it comes to Athlon 64 chipsets, the K8T800 from VIA has been the market leader, but there are also some viable alternatives available in form of the SiS755 and NVIDIA NFORCE3. However, VIA's K8T800 was missing a few features and was due for an update. The result is the K8T800 Pro which offers a few more features and improved performance through VIA's proprietary Ultra V-Link Technology.
Today, we are going to take a look at the latest socket 754 motherboard to land on our test bench powered by VIA's K8T800 Pro, the ABIT KV8 Pro. The KV8 Pro is an economical motherboard with built with Abit quality and BIOS options that rival much more expensive boards in its class. First, we'll assess the feature set of the KV8 Pro, then we'll take a closer look at its performance, comparing it to several other motherboard powered by a few other popular chipsets including the original K8T800.
- Supports AMD socket 754 Athlon 64 CPU
CPU Integrated Memory Controller
- 72-bit memory controller supports DDR at 266, 333 and 400MHz
- Support 2 DIMM DDR 400
- Support 2 DIMM up to 2GB Max.
- VIA K8T800 Pro / VT8237 chipset
- Supports 1GHz Hyper Transport
- Supports Advanced Configuration and Power Management Interface (ACPI)
- Accelerated Graphics Port connector supports AGP 8X/4X (0.8V/1.5V)
- Supports SATA data transfer rates at 150 MB/s (1.5G bps)
- Supports SATA RAID 0/1 JBOD
- On board VT6122 10/100/1000 Mb PCI Ethernet Controller
- 6-Channel AC 97 CODEC on board
- Professional digital audio interface supports optical S/P DIF In/Out
Internal I/O Connectors
- 1 AGP 8X/4X slot, 5 PCI slots
- Floppy Port supports up to 2.88 MB
- 2 x Ultra DMA 33/66/100/133 Connectors
- 2 x Serial ATA 150 Connectors
- 2 x USB headers, 2 x CD-IN
Back Panel I/O
- 1 x PS/2 Keyboard, 1 x PS/2 mouse
- 1 x Serial Port, 1 x Parallel Port
- 1 x S/P DIF Output, 1 x S/P DIF Input
- 5 holes Audio connector (Front Speaker, Line-in, Mic-in, Center/Sub, Surround Speaker)
- 4 x USB, 1 x RJ-45 LAN Connector
- ATX form factor 305 x 225 mm
The retail bundle of the KV8 Pro included everything needed from IDE cabling to the latest system drivers. ABIT included a rounded 80-pin IDE cable, a Floppy Cable, 2 SATA cables and a SATA power adapter that turns one Molex connection into 2 SATA power connections. An I/O shield was provided as well as the CPU cooler base.
A floppy disk was included with SATA RAID drivers, which is required when installing a clean copy of Windows directly to a RAID array. The Drivers CD included all of the required drivers for installing the rest of the on-board components as well as ABIT's custom software that works in conjunction with the integrated GURU processor. From a documentation standpoint, ABIT has the bases covered nicely. There is an oversized Quick Installation Guide that answers all of the basic questions about mounting the board and installing the CPU and Memory. The KV8 Pro User's Manual goes into greater detail, covering hardware installation and configuration as well as BIOS setup and driver installation. Lastly, a manual was provided to cover the GURU functionality including software installation and setup.
Overall, ABIT did a good job with the KV8's bundle, leaving little questions to be answered when it comes to the board's features and setup. Before we take a closer looks at the KV8 Pro itself, let's take a moment to highlight VIA's K8T800 Chipset that lies at the heart of this board.