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Gigabyte GA-K8VT890-9 (VIA K8T890)
By Zachary Chan
Category : Mainboard
Published by Vijay Anand on Saturday, 8th October, 2005
Rating : 4 out of 5 stars  


GA-K8VT890-9 Examined

As a no-frills motherboard, the GA-K8VT890-9 had to rely mostly on its chipset to provide the bulk of its features. Although jaded by today's standards, the K8T890 still managed to deliver a key technology for any modern motherboard to compete and that was PCI Express support. The Northbridge basically controlled all the PCIe lanes on the board and Gigabyte had included two extra PCIe x1 slots for expansion possibilities in addition to the PCIe x16 graphics slot. Using VIA's V-MAP interconnect, Gigabyte paired off the K8T890 with the venerable VT8237R Southbridge. Not exactly the most exciting component when it came to features, but it fleshed out the motherboard nicely.

The VIA VT8237R Southbridge, no longer cutting-edge, but it's still reliable.

The GA-K8VT890-9 featured a two-port SATA controller with basic RAID 0/1 support and 8-channel capable audio courtesy of a Realtek ALC850 AC'97 CODEC. However, we are sad to say that the board only came with three analog audio jacks. Of course, when we look at it in Gigabyte's perspective, the budget user will most probably not be running a 7.1-channel home theater speaker system, so their decision to outfit the board with basic connectivity makes sense and cents as well. What is the point then of having an 8-channel CODEC? Well, for a few dollars extra, users can make full use of the board's audio capabilities through an optional Audio Combo Kit, which is basically a bracket with extra audio jacks and S/PDIF connectors. Gigabyte may have possibly wanted to include FireWire support as well, but the board didn't come with any. Since the GA-K8VT890-9 is the only VIA K8T890 based model available from them, the idea may have been abandoned to further save cost.

A decent layout with primary IDE and ATX connectors ideally located. DIMM slots are on the tight side, so users need to becareful choosing memory modules.


Headers to support the optional Audio Combo Kit required to unleash the full potential of the onboard sound system.


Besides the spaciousness of the board, there are a few things of note. There is space for a FireWire controller, the Floppy connector is out of place and the VT8327R Southbridge doesn't need cooling.

There were some qualities of the GA-K8VT890-9 that attracted our attention though. Firstly, we noticed that Gigabyte didn't settle for VIA's onboard Fast Ethernet solution. Instead, they included a nice Gigabit LAN controller (Marvell's 88E8053) that sits on its own PCI Express lane, thus providing higher networking throughput. We also liked how Gigabyte gave equal focus on regular PCI, with three available slots along with two PCIe x1 slots. While the graphic card market has rapidly embraced the PCI Express standard, other mainstay add-ons like audio, TV and even wireless networking cards are still PCI based. As such, this design maximizes the possible uses of regular PCI expansion slots.

No obstructions at all around the CPU socket makes for easy cooler mounting.


A good mix of PCI and PCIe slots allow for current expansion or future upgrades.


Overclocking

The following overclocking options were available to the GA-K8VT890-9:-

  • FSB Settings: 200MHz to 300MHz
  • RAM Frequency: DDR200, DDR266, DDR333, DDR400
  • CPU Voltage Settings: +5%, +7.5%, +10%
  • Memory Voltage Settings: +0.1V, +0.2V, +0.3V
  • Multiplier Selection: Yes (unlocked CPUs only)

    The first thing any inquisitive geek would do when they power up their new motherboard is usually to probe the BIOS for available tweaks, which is what we always do. If you had a look at the overclocking options listed, you'd probably have guessed that we weren't jumping for joy. However, one must remember where the GA-K8VT890-9 stood as a budget motherboard and Gigabyte probably didn't think it was necessary to provide a high level of customization for the board. Voltage options were bound by an extremely limited range and the BIOS didn't even feature selectable PCI/PCIe locks as well. Memory timings were sorely lacking as well and as such, it wasn't any surprise at all that the board didn't do too well in our overclocking test. The GA-K8VT890-9 hit a low ceiling of 220MHz and refused to budge even after we lowered the HTT multiplier from 5x (1GHz) to 3x (600MHz). Users might get different results depending on your hardware, but the board doesn't look like it's going to be a closet overclocking wonder.


    The Bad

    With such a basic motherboard, one can rarely go wrong with the design on an ATX-sized PCB. Gigabyte managed a decent layout with the GA-K8VT890-9. Its main IDE and ATX power connectors were well placed and there was ample room between the DIMM slots and the PCIe x16 slot. A low profile heatsink was sufficient to cool the VIA K8T890 chipset, so users shouldn't run into any obstruction with CPU cooler installation as well. We could of course nitpick on the positioning of the 4-pin ATX connector at the rear or the floppy connector. However, these were minor issues that can be overlooked since they would not directly cause any complications to component installation, maintenance or cabling, so we'd let it slide.

    Low profile heatsink is all that is needed to cool the K8T890, very much different from the nForce4 furnace.


    12V auxiliary ATX power connector wasn't ideally located towards the middle of the board.
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