IntroductionABIT AX8 VIA KT890 Mainboard
AMD's performance-orientated S939 motherboards have changed markedly since this reviewer went on a sabbatical in late '04. I'd been used to seeing AGP-laden boards perform well. Now the revolution, or rather evolution, has been to adopt PCI-Express as the overall conduit of choice. It makes implicit sense, too, as incumbent AGP and PCI (32-bit, 33MHz) boards limited overall performance to a single graphics card and relatively slow peripheral performance. PCI-Express, then, has paved the way for the effortless inclusion of high-speed peripherals such as dual Gigabit LAN without imposing undue performance and/or bandwidth-related problems. What's more, the promise of SLI-capable chipsets, running two graphics cards in tandem, has had enthusiasts champing at the bit for some time. PCI-Express is here to stay, so it was inevitable that S939 would receive a full complement of compliant boards.
VIA's K8T890 is the Taiwanese company's stab at opening up S939 to some PCI-Express loving, and ABIT has proved to be a willing partner by basing its new AX8 on this low-cost S939 chipset. Let's see how well ABIT and VIA have done in mating S939's obvious potential to the burgeoning PCI-Express graphics card market.