VIA PT894 Chipset Reference Pentium 4 Motherboard Review
Before 2004, when it came to non-Intel based socket 775 Pentium 4 chipsets the only game
in town was SiS. nVIDIA was then a purely AMD provider, and VIA was in the midst
of many legal battles with Intel over the licenses.
Since then things have
settled down between the two and VIA is now producing Pentium 4 chipsets again
with Intel's blessing. VIA's PT880 showed the world that while being out of
the Intel game for almost a good two years, that absence did not affect VIA's ability
to produce a high performance (yet inexpensive) chipset.
PCstats last looked at VIA's PT880 reference motherboard in January 2004 we
were pretty impressed by what we saw, but couldn't help thinking that the
chipset was doomed to falter. After all, at the time it was well known that
Intel and the rest of the computer industry would quickly be moving towards PCI
Express capable platforms. Coming out with a traditional AGP/PCI based chipset so late in the
game was simply counter productive. Sales of PT880 based motherboards were few and far between as a
around VIA has been much quicker to market with the new VIA PT894 northbridge, and the
company is poised to steal sales away from Intel's chipset division. Built for
Socket 775 Pentium 4's, the VIA PT894 chipset supports 533 MHz, 800 MHz and 1066 MHz FSB processors as well
either dual channel DDR 400 and DDR-2 667 memory. In terms of
expansion, the VIA PT894 supports up to 20 PCI Express lanes, although there will
be no SLI option. The PT894 Pro version will feature two PCI Express x16
slots, but is not slated to be SLI compatible as of yet. VIA's interconnect technology,
which is called V-Link, connects the PT894 and new VIA VT8237R southbridge at speeds of 1066 MB/s.
A rate which is more than enough for high bandwidth PC devices.
reference VIA PT894
motherboard that PCstats will be looking at today also comes with a whole host
of other goodies; 7.1 audio thanks to the VIA VT1617A codec, an additional two
port VIA VT6421L Serial ATA/RAID controller and an integrated VIA VT6655 802.11g
The VIA PT894 reference board doesn't look like your regular
motherboard and this board does not conform to the ATX form factor so you can
pretty much forget about installing it into a case. Of course please keep in
mind that this board is not meant to be sold to the public, and is only for beta/internal
uses a flip chip packaging with the PT894 chipset and the
little core comes in direct contact with the small aluminum heatsink. During testing
we were pleased to see that the chipset didn't produce much heat at all, the
Intel 925X/XE/915P chips on the other hand run quite hot and require large cooling
solutions. Also the VIA VT8237R only ran mildly warm and does not require
any extra cooling unlike the infamous Intel ICH6 series.
The power and reset buttons on the lower right hand
corner of the motherboard making testing the motherboard much easier. I wish
motherboard manufacturers would make those things standard equipment, well one
can always hope!