Features and Layout
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Tyan has come a long way with their latest entry in the AMD market with the Trinity KT400. Let’s start by looking at the layout of the motherboard and the features that they are offering the end user.
One of the first things to notice is that Tyan has included the four mounting holes around processor socket for the higher end CPU coolers that enthusiasts like to use for overclocking their processors. The area around the socket is only slightly limited and cramped along the left and right sides of the processor socket, but I was still able to fit the gargantuan AX-7 heatsink on the motherboard without a problem. One issue that was more than slightly annoying was that the fan header for the CPU cooler was too far away from the socket, or on the wrong side of the socket, for many of my stock coolers to reach without an extension cord on the power cable. Another small issue is that it is impossible (or very dangerous at least) to try and remove the heatsink from the processor with memory installed. They are just too close together and the necessary screwdriver for most heatsinks runs the risk of coming in contact with a lot of force on the DIMMs, so be sure to take them out!
The ATX power connector is placed in a good location where it is out of the way of most other components. The KT400 north bridge uses a passive cooling solution that keeps the motherboard quiet and also just means there is one less thing to worry about failing on you down the road. It is a nice sized heatsink that I think would be more than adequate for most normal and even most overclocking use.
You’ll notice from the image above that the DIMMs are very close to the center of the motherboard and thus the north bridge of the KT400 chipset. This was done by Tyan engineers in order make the signal between the memory and north bridge as stable and as clean as possible. Their goal was to have the best DDR400 support of any motherboard manufacturer on the KT400 chipset. They succeeded, but how much good the DDR400 performance benefits the user is still up in the air. One of the downfalls to their redesign of the board was that the DIMM slots are too close the AGP slot on the motherboard. As you can see, in order to remove the memory from the clips properly, you are forced to uninstall the AGP video card. Even on the very short Radeon 9700 Pro card, the first and second DIMM slot clips are blocked.
The slot configuration on the Tyan Trinity KT400 is definitely one aimed at the enthusiast market. With a single AGP slot and six PCI slots, the Trinity is made for expandability. Moving a bit further down we see that Tyan has included a large amount of storage options including 4 IDE ports and 2 Serial ATA ports. Two of the IDE channels are from the VIA south bridge while the remaining two are powered by a High Point IDE RAID controller. The SATA channels are from yet another chipset, this time from Silicon Image.
Tyan has included a Diagnostic LED, like the ones we have been seeing on Epox boards for some time now to help in POST problem recognition. One odd choice of movement is that the Tyan placed the case connections, those that are responsible for the reset, power and LEDs up near the middle of the PCB. That’s not anything I have ever seen before and could cause a problem for some users with odd cases.
Other features that the Tyan Trinity KT400 offers is a network interface and a 6-channel AC’97 codec with SPDIF output support. There are a total of 6 USB 2.0 ports available, four of which are included on the back panel. Overall, I think you would be hard pressed to find a more feature-packed board based on the KT400 chipset.