Which Via KT133A Mobo should an overclocker get?

I'm looking at upgrading my comp, on a budget. All I'm looking at right now is a Mobo & a CPU, and no more than $300 to my front door. I'm running a Celeron 333 O/C'd to 417 right now, with 128mb ram, and I feel like I'm just lagging. So I was looking at getting a good Mobo with an Athlon (Tbird) 800mhz & overclock it to 1Ghz, as Tom reccomended in one of his How-To articles.

So, my first (and primary) question is, which motherboard is the best to get? (I want the possibility of upgrading later).
I think I've narrowed it down to the following three:
The Asus A7V133, the AOpen AK73 or the IWill KK266.
I can find all of them for around $120-$130 (The non-raid solutions... I don't think I'll use raid...).
Is there an Abit board that's comprable?
I'd like to get a board that I can do all the cpu adjustments in the Bios (bus speed, multiplier, & voltage).
I can't tell from Tom's articles if they all support all 3 adjustments.
Does anyone have any advice or known problems/bonuses which would differentiate one as the best?

Also, a second question, I've got a TNT 2 Pro, is there any point in considering a faster CPU for gaming purposes, if I don't have a GeForce 2? Will I even notice a difference between 800mhz or 1000mhz?

Also, will I have to make some serious adjustments to the processor in order to enable overclocking? I've read things about closing L1 bridges, etc., and I guess I feel a little nervous about ruining the CPU before I even get it mounted.

Lastly, is the typical boxed CPU HSink/Fan going to be sufficient, or should I bother spending $30+ on a really nice one? My system's got several fans in it as is. What's the best price/performance fan out there for me?

Thanks for your advice and consideration.

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  1. Excellent Questions!

    Out of that batch of Mobos, I personally use the Asus. Abit has a Mobo comparable for $10 more, so why pay it?

    Asus has the best set of features that I know of to set those 3 values. Keep in mind that the L1 bridges on your processor need to be closed to override the CPUs settings. This is a necessity for overclocking. Get a really thin mechanical pencil and a magnifying glass, and make sure each small circuit in the L1 section on the chip is closed. Don't let the graphite cross to the other circuits either. Don't worry, the pencil can't harm the chip and you can carefully wipe it off and start over if you make a mistake. But back to your questions:

    I have a 1st generation Geforce w/ 32MB and it's still sufficient for my gaming. If you want an upgrade, try a Guillemot 32MB Geforce 2 MX, they're about $70.

    You may have trouble overclocking the chip to the speed you want. Some chips have inherent flaws and only run stable up to certain speeds, even though there is no apparent diference between them. (e.g. any T-Bird 700 to 1000 and up) I have a 900 and can only get it stable to 1GHz. Apparently the Durons are more reliable overclockers (and Cheaper!!) Just keep this in mind when you overclock. Move up your voltage first, probably up to the board max of 1.85V. Then start moving up your processor clock little by little. You'll have to run the OS for a while to find when your system gets buggy. I usually find bugs in Word and IE first. Crashes, weird stuff, you know, that's when you should go back to the last processor speed and you know you've hit your stability ceiling.

    Don't mess with your system Bus speed, unless you're some kind of masochist. That's the fastest way to make sure every PCI part in your PC goes a little funny on you. If you must, you can bump it up a tiny bit, but be warned that instability may follow.

    Most importantly, when you get the board to 1.85V, you MUST MUST have a better cooling fan. Not just because a hot chip gets unstable, but also because the excess heat will simply kill it altogether. Tom's reviewed a really cool two-cowled silent fan that works well. I use a GlobalWin that's easy to find at places like Directron.com. Make sure you use the ArcticSilver compound between the chip and the heatsink!

    I think that's everything. Good luck upgrading and overclocking.

    <b><i><font color=purple> Whispers of Clay </font color=purple></b></i>
  2. I appreciate your reply, melanchthon.

    As I've continued reading this board, it seems there may be some problems with the Asus board, and that possibly the newest version doesn't support software CPU Multiplier changing. Can you or anyone verify this and the quality of the board?

    Am I going to notice a significant performance loss in a Duron 800mhz over a TBird 800mhz, for gaming? I know the Duron is a good chip, so is it worth the extra few bucks to get the Athlon instead, especially if it doesn't overclock as easily?

    I'll make sure I get a good fan. I take it that ArcticSilver stuff is a paste? I wonder how much that GlobalWin fan costs... (maybe I should get the cheap fan and the better CPU, eh?).

    Thanks again.

  3. The A7V133 certainly supports changing the multiplier in the BIOS. But it is only effective if your CPU's multiplier is unlocked. They come locked and unlocking it involves closing the L1 bridges. I've never done it though because a non-overclocked 1.2GHz Tbird makes me plenty happy.

    Durons may overclock more but still end up slower. It's a matter of perspective. For gaming, the video card makes SO much more of a difference than the CPU.

    Arctic Silver is indeed a thermal grease/paste. I'm told by plenty of people on this forum that is has been scientifically proven to be a more effective paste than the other options.
  4. The Asus board in question does apparently come with and without this little set of dip switches to manually control the frequency multiplier of the chip, but as Atlantix said, if you do the little mechanical pencil trick on the L1 bridges, it shouldn't be necessary to have it. Tom's wrote an article on how to solder a little switch set to the empty spot on the board if you get one without it, but I don't think I'd be brave enough to do that on a mid-high end motherboard. I still think you'll be ok with it.

    Also as Atlantix said, the Duron is going to be slower than a comparable T-Bird, but consider this: (1) You'll save a load of cash and (2) a Duron 800 might get up to 1GHz, while a T-Bird 800 may only get to 900 or so. You'd have to buy maybe a 900 like mine to get to the "magic GHz" level, even though the Duron will be a slight bit slower. Right now, a 900 T-Bird goes for $103+, while the 800 Duron is $53+ -- 50 bucks difference! In several of Tom's articles it states clearly that unless you're going to play 3D games at 640x480 and 16 color, the video card is your limiting factor. By the time you're up to 1024x768 and 32 color, the benchmarks Tom's uses show an imperceptible difference between, say, a Duron 800 and a 1+ GHz T-Bird, believe it or not. Those Geforce 2 MX cards w/ 32MB for $70 are something you just can't pass up right now. If you get the Duron, it'll be like only having to spend $20 on your video card because of the chip savings and you will be impressed by the overall performance.

    Yes, the ArcticSilver is a good paste, delivering more heat transfer than the white silica pastes. But PLEASE PLEASE DON'T SKIMP ON THE FAN! That is the overclockers #1 best friend. DID I MENTION NOT TO SKIMP ON THE FAN? Check out Tom's 2 or 3 latest aricles on fans and then search the net for the best prices on the best-performing ones. It can mean the difference between you having a cool, stable system and having one that crashes all the time when it gets up to op temp, or worse, just dies a horrible death altogether, so PLEASE DON'T SKIMP ON THE FAN. BTW, the Asus board monitors temp in the bios and has a utility to do it on your desktop too.

    Keep at it and good luck. Let me know if you need any more advice, you're dealing with hardware I have a lot of hands-on experience with and am proud to own myself. Later...

    <b><i><font color=purple> Whispers of Clay </font color=purple></b></i>
  5. So, I've got the TnT2 Ultra (or is it Pro?) right now.
    Is my Celeron 417mhz is the bottleneck in my system?
    I was running under the assumption that upgrading my graphics card to a Geforce2 wouldn't really improve my performance that much, until I upgraded my CPU. Which is going to be the best increase for the money?
    I was planning on spending $250 on the mobo & CPU, then saving for a better card later. But I could probably spend $300 and get a Duron processor, and get a cheap GeForce 2 MX 32mb card. Would that be better for the future, as well, or would I be better off getting a higher-end graphics card much later? Is the GeForce 2 MX (32MB) that much better than the TnT2 Ultra (32MB)? I know it's the "budget" card, and I hate not getting the higher end stuff. I could maybe wait and get a Geforce 2 GTS or Pro for about twice as much ($150)....

    While I'm at it... would it be better to get the 32mb, or the 64mb (MX or any card...)

    I'm not one who needs to have UT running at 100 frames per second... but I want to be able to have my system last a while, and be able to play all the games as they come out. Games like Black and White are seriously taxing my system, and that only at 800 x 600. I'd love to be able to run 1024 x 768 smoothly.

    Well, this thread has left the realm of Motherboards, and has moved on to CPU's and Graphics cards, and for that I apologize... but I wanted to keep this in the thread.

    Thanks for the responses, and thanks Whispers of Clay. (Maybe I can email you directly, Whispers?)

    -- Ficus, the Flaming Cow

  6. Keep this in mind when thinking about overclocking a Duron vs an Tbird... The Duron has a much smaller L2 cache (64k i think) compared to the Tbird (192k??), so even if you overclock the Duron, you cannot make up for its smaller L2 cache. The smaller the cache, the more often the chip has to pull info out of the RAM, which is slower than the on-die cache.


    <b><font color=orange>"Brilliant thinkers have often met violent opposition from mediocre minds."</b></font color=orange>
  7. Right now, price-wise for a decent but not high-end system, you should go with the Geforce 2 MX. With your present computer, you have 2 bottlenecks: the processor and the video card. I was playing Giants: Citizen Kabuto (a fairly new & graphics intensive game) on my home network with a friend last night and he was on my wife's K6-2/500 with a TNT2 Ultra 32MB by Guillemot. I can honestly tell you there is a significant difference between that card and my own Geforce (first gen) 32MB also by Guillemot. Naturally the processor had something to do with it too, but I would say my wife's comp may be roughly equal to yours now. Upgrading to a Geforce 2 MX, it being quite a bit faster than my Geforce, will make your games run smooth as silk. Remember, even the newest games don't push the envelope with existing graphics card technology.

    By upgrading to a Duron 800 or so on an Asus board like we've been discussing, you get the long life of the board, which will support up to about a 1.2GHz T-Bird or maybe more (depending how technology leaps in the near future) for future chip upgrades. Plus, you can overclock the Duron. I know that the on-die cache is only 64K vs. 256K on the T-Bird, but if you have sufficient RAM, considering you're going to have a significantly faster computer than you have now, you won't know the difference. I was reading Tom's latest article on an all-in-one computer, the Integra this morning and the thing I noticed was that it had an ATI Rage PRO 128 (32MB) in it, probably comparable to a TNT2. In the benchmarks, the base computer, having a Geforce 2 MX doubled or tripled the performance at real gaming resolutions (like 1024x768). Check out the article, it's the newest on the Tom's homepage. That's the difference in graphics when processors are roughly equal. To address the other half of your question, why should you spend $200 on a Geforce 2 GTS or Ultra when you can get a sweet graphics card that will be quite adequate for quite a while for $70. If you pay closer to the top end, when the Geforce 3 (or even 4, cause you know its coming...) comes out, the prices on those will come down drastically and you'll feel a fool for having paid top-dollar for top-end stuff. It's like buying a 2002 car as soon as they come in, when you get almost as much in a 2001 model but at a much lower price. Less depreciation when you drive it off the lot, too! :-)

    Oh, BTW, I play my games at 1280x1024 with 32bit color and it runs very, very well, even with my old Geforce, just so you know. If you have a 17" monitor and it runs best high-end at 1024x768, you'll get blazing speed out of the 2 MX, and at that resolution, you should get long life out of that card with the newest games. Heck, sometimes I run mine at 1600x1200x32, like when I got Homeworld. It was cool and smooth!

    I hope this answers some more of your questions. If you'd like to e-mail me direct, you can use either valet@compufree.cc or melanchthon@whispersofclay.com

    <b><i><font color=purple> Whispers of Clay </font color=purple></b></i>
  8. You're absolutely right about that cache and the chips' performance. Unfortunately, I'm not just dealing with pure performance issues, but performance & cost combined.

    In the big picture, however, considering the cost of chips vs. RAM, you can get a Duron 800 & an extra stick of 128MB PC133 SDRAM (to get 256MB), overclock the Duron to 1GHz, and depending on your video card, get as much if not more performance overall out of your system than, say a T-Bird 900 with 128MB. You'll still save $20 too! Now, this is only my opinion on performance. I don't have any actual side-by-side benchmarks, but I'm just speaking from general experience. Peace!

    <b><i><font color=purple> Whispers of Clay </font color=purple></b></i>
  9. Darn! All this talk about video cards got me ancy and I went and bought a Geforce 2 MX from Newegg.com.

    Free FedEx saver shipping and $81, and better than all that, it's a Guillemot/Hercules, the best manufacturer in the biz!

    Just thought I'd pass that on. Look forward to hearing from you...

    <b><i><font color=purple> Whispers of Clay </font color=purple></b></i>
  10. Well, heres my story to help you make your decision (by the way i wanted to get an asus a7v133 but you cant buy that here in the philippines) I just built a new machine with the ABITkt7A - raid, and Tbird 1.2mhz and 266 FSB, after setting up hardware, on the softmenu if i select 133/33 with 9x multiplier it wont work, after trying it a few times i had VGA problems and now my processor aint working, why is this? it would work only if i choose 100/33 with 12X multiplier. and if anyone can pllease help me out!?!
  11. I like the Abit KT7 which was replaced by the KT7A. Nice and completely jumper free for overclocking. You don't even need to reset the CMOS if you hose the settings while attempting to overclock. Just disconnect from power (not just shutdown but physically disconnect or turn off at the power supply). Hold down the <b>insert key</b> when you next power up and the system will boot with default CPU settings. All the other settings will still be configured in the BIOS just the way you left them only the CPU settings revert. Like I said before, "nice".

    Abit has a new board, the KT7E. This is the same as the KT7A which but with the KT133E chipset. This has no official support for 133 mhz operation but read the review at www.viahardware.com. This board is really for the budget minded. Costs about $104, mail order. Here is the link to the review.

    <A HREF="http://www.viahardware.com/abitkt7e.shtm" target="_new">http://www.viahardware.com/abitkt7e.shtm</A>

    There is no RAID version of the KT7E, unlike the other KT7 family motherboards.
    <P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by phsstpok on 04/19/01 02:53 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
  12. Okay, so I've been convinced on getting the Duron with the MX.
    You wrote that the Asus board comes with and without the set of dipswitches for multiplier changing, but does the BIOS support it in either case? Maybe the equally priced Abit KT7 board would be better suited?

    In terms of Fan, the GlobalWin FOP32-I seems to be the best reasonably priced fan for cooling, yes?

    I'm getting more and more antsy as I come closer to my new system. :)


  13. Okay, so I've been convinced on getting the Duron with the MX.
    You wrote that the Asus board comes with and without the set of dipswitches for multiplier changing, but does the BIOS support it in either case? Maybe the equally priced Abit KT7A board would be better suited?

    In terms of Fan, the GlobalWin FOP32-I seems to be the best reasonably priced fan for cooling, yes?

    I'm getting more and more antsy as I come closer to my new system. :)


  14. I forgot to mention a few things in my other post.

    The KT7 family motherboards have 6 PCI slots (very hard to use them all with a VIA chipset) and 1 ISA slot. The latter is important to many people who do upgrades and have a legacy card, including myself.

    The Iwill KK266 is very similar in features to the ABIT except I think it has a jumper for the base FSB rate, 100 mhz or 133 mhz with modifiers in BIOS. I think the rest of the overclocking feature are in BIOS but I really don't know.

    The Asus A7V133 seems to be very popular as there are a lot of posts regarding them in these forums.

    I have an overclocked Duron and love it but overclocked at 1000 Mhz it just barely manages to outperform a Thunderbird at 800 mhz. You may want to rethink the Duron choice some extra thought. It is still a great value for the bucks.

    Here are a couple of comparison reviews.

    <A HREF="http://www.tech-report.com/reviews/2000q4/athlon-vs-duron/" target="_new">http://www.tech-report.com/reviews/2000q4/athlon-vs-duron/</A>
    <A HREF="http://www.athlonoc.com/duron_1.htm" target="_new">http://www.athlonoc.com/duron_1.htm</A>
  15. You only need the dip switch set if you you use the manual settings to determine your frequency. If the jumpers on the Mobo are set to jumperless operation, all the settings are available in the Bios PROVIDED THAT you have the L1 bridges closed on the chip. Make sure you ask the vendor if the Mobo has the two dip switch banks before you buy it, if you're concerned. Of course, I have heard that aside from the Asus, the Abit is a great board for overclockers too. I just don't have any personal experience with one. I think you'll be ok either way.

    The FOP32-I is apparently quite good for cooling. I don't know how loud you care for your fan to be, but I have a FOP38 with a 6200rpm fan on it. It's got quite a hum, but I personally find the audial feedback of my cooling system to be soothing to my mind, especially if I ever wonder how my chip's doing. I never wonder if the fan's burnt out! I think I mentioned before that I got mine from Directron.com. It was $25.99 and a little dollop of ArticSilver was $2.99. I think the smaller FOP32-I was in there for $20-22.

    That's all. Enjoy the anticipation of your new system, but don't wait too long, or everything we've discussed will be obsolete! ;-)

    <b><i><font color=purple> Whispers of Clay </font color=purple></b></i>
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