Articles: Mainboards
 

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The PCB design of this mainboard looks OK at first glance. Five PCI slots, one AGP 8x, three DDR DIMM slots and four channels for ATA devices (two Parallel ATA and two SerialATA-150) are all getting along together nicely. The Parallel ATA and FDD connectors as well as the main ATX power supply connector are in front of the DIMM slots where they actually should be. The AGP slot is at a distance from the memory slots, never interfering with them. Well, it looked as if we were going to applaud to Gigabyte’s engineers for a great PCB layout. However, this intention weakened when we started assembling the system with GA-K8VT800. To begin with, the additional 12V power connector is placed at the back edge of the PCB between the Socket754 and the North Bridge, which is not very good, but not too bad anyway. Second and much worse is the location of the SerialATA-150 connectors immediately in front of the AGP slot. This may cause difficulties if you use a long graphics card like a GeForce FX 5900/5950. Third, the Gigabyte GA-K8VT800 has only two fan power supply connectors. And fourth, there is no Clear CMOS jumper, so you have to close two contact pads with tweezers, instead.

The CPU voltage regulator is three-phase circuit. The voltage received by the CPU is close to the nominal. The mainboard supports Cool’n’Quiet technology, although it is not mentioned anywhere in the user’s manual or in the BIOS. The CPU temperature is measured by the integrated thermal diode.

The traditional BIOS from Gigabyte allows you to access the memory controller settings when you press Ctrl + F1 keys. Also Gigabyte included a very interesting Xpress Recovery utility, which will do the backup and restore the boot sector of your HDD. So far, it is version 1.0 and has a number of limitations. I hope Gigabyte will go on working on this utility, since it is a useful tool, especially for inexperienced users.

The BIOS Setup offers good options for configuring the memory controller of the Athlon 64. Besides adjusting the timings and choosing from the standard frequencies (DDR200/366/300/400), you can set up the memory subsystem to work at the non-standard DDR300 frequency. The only thing I wish were there is ECC, which is unfortunately not available.

Now, let’s mention the overclocking options available in the Gigabyte GA-K8VT800. The FSB clock-rate can be adjusted in the range from 200MHz to 255MHz, which makes this mainboard OK for overclocking experiments. The mainboard doesn’t allow changing the CPU multiplier and offers quite a ridiculous CPU voltages range: from 0.8V to 1.55V with 0.025V increment. That is, the Gigabyte GA-K8VT800 allows setting processor Vcore as low as you like, but cannot increase it more than 0.05V above the nominal. The memory and AGP voltages can be raised by 0.1V or 0.2V above the nominal, other voltages cannot be played with at all. This mainboard, just like the other K8T800-based ones participating in this roundup today, cannot change the divider for the AGP/PCI frequency, although the chipset can do it (at least, theoretically).

In case of over-overclocking, the Gigabyte GA-K8VT800 allows you to return the default values to CPU-related BIOS parameters by pressing and holding the INS key during start-up. This is good, considering the lack of the Clear CMOS jumper.

As a result, I can conclude that Gigabyte GA-K8VT800 is an interesting inexpensive Socket754 mainboard, which is definitely worth paying attention to. It doesn’t suit for overclocking, though. That is why I cannot recommend it for an enthusiastic user.

 
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