K8T800 and Envy24PT - as good as you'd think?
You know the saying, you wait ages for a bus to turn up, then two turn up at the same time? That definitely applies to me just now. No K8T800 to look at while Tarinder gets all the hot Athlon 64 action, then two boards show up at once. It was worth the wait though, ASUS K8V turned out to be nothing like its buggy Socket 940 nForce3 Pro 150 sibling, SK8N. Instead it turned out to be a decently performing board with good features and a few bundle options (with a few quirks) to take advantage of. SK8V, the Socket 940 version, is apparently just as good. Indeed OPPainter, an xtremesystems.org contributor, used one recently to break 30,000 3DMarks for the very first time. The SK8V powered a chilled 3GHz Athlon 64 FX-51 to great effect, providing the basis for the operation and giving a home to his 600MHz Radeon 9800XT.
Tarinder has also had high praise for ABIT's K8T800 board and the Biostar he looked at recently doesn't do too badly either. Each K8T800 board we've had the pleasure of reviewing has taken a slightly different direction, a testament to the flexibility that the chipset gives to board makers. VIA should be deservedly proud. Initial platform execution means good things in the future, for the most part anyway. A first generation K8 chipset, K8T800 has seen design wins from not only the big Tier-1 board makers like ASUS and Gigabyte, but from everyone else, top to bottom. Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon, even though there's only one CPU choice for Socket 754.
Not to miss out on the bandwagon jumping, Albatron want their piece of the Athlon 64 pie just like everyone else. I'd seen a couple of reviews of their K8X800 Pro II before my sample arrived and I was intrigued. If I was a board maker and my remit was to create a full featured K8T800 Socket 754 solution for the masses, at first glance the K8X800 Pro II is probably what I'd come up with, give or take a feature and BIOS change.
As I noted in my K8V review, K8T800 gives board makers a lot of flexibility. VT8237, the current VIA southbridge du jour, will hook up to a mad range of VIA ASICs, plus you can always drop devices onto its PCI bus. So given the VIA shopping basket of hardware parts, it looks like Albatron have chosen well.
Straight on to the board itself to see why. I'll spare commentary on the CPU and chipset this time around, both Tarinder and I have both covered it in separate articles. Onwards!