This information is primarily for newbies who may be considering the purchase of an AMD/VIA platform. The information herein covers but is not limited to the Apollo Pro 133/133A, Apollo Pro 266, KX133/KT133/KT133A and PM133/KM133 chipsets. This information was written only to inform those unknowing individuals of potential pitfalls, performance issues and incompatibility problems concerning VIA chipset motherboards. I encourage newbies and seasoned geeks alike to read all the information as it is both informative and entertaining. Ok, enough. Lets get ready for a wild journey through the bizarre & buggy world of VIA!
First I would like to start off with a few excerpts from VIA’s own FAQ.
<font color=green>Q. Should I install the 4-in-1 drivers?</font color=green>
<b>VIA -</b> All VIA chipset users should install the 4-in-1 drivers to improve performance, fix issues, and <b>minimize</b> any <b>incompatibilities </b>.
<i>Notice that VIA uses the term “minimize incompatibilities” and not eliminate or remove incompatibilities. This is important because we will now delve into the details of some of those incompatibilities which were not “minimized” by the 4-in-1 drivers</i>
<font color=green>Q. My Apollo Pro133A based motherboard with the VT82C686B Southbridge is having <b>stability</b> problems in Windows 2000, especially when transferring large files. How can I cure this?</font color=green>
<b>VIA -</b> At this time, we suggest you uninstall the VIA IDE Busmaster for WindowsÒ 2000 that is contained in the 4-in-1 driver.
<i>Ok. Now wait a minute. In the first answer VIA tells you that you should install the 4-in-1 drivers to “minimize incompatibilities.” Now VIA does a U-turn and is telling you to <b>uninstall</b> part of those drivers or you could face <b>stability</b> problems. So, which is it?</i>
<font color=green>Q. Why doesn’t my GeForce2 GTS based video card run in AGP4X on my Apollo Pro133A based motherboard? </font color=green>
VIA - nVidia has disabled AGP4X on Apollo Pro133A platforms because of <b>compatibility problems</b> with Apollo Pro133A and newer nVidia drivers. Older nVidia drivers with version numbers of 3.xx solve this problem.
<i>Uh oh. GeForce GTS owners beware! Unfortunatily VIA fails to mention that users of all GeForce cards can have compatibility problems</i>
<font color=green>VIA - Special Announcement for owners of Microsoft Force Feedback 2.</font color=green>
If your computer has a VIA USB host controller, the MS FF2 (Force Feedback 2) joystick is <b>incompatible</b> with the USB chip and will not work.
<i>I believe there is a patch available for this incompatibility.
Ok, moving right along.</i>
The following was taken from DigiDesign’s FAQ. If you don’t know who they are, DigiDesign is a company that makes very high-end Professional Music/Sound production software and hardware which is used by many music/production studios. In fact the popular TV show “Survivors” uses DigiDesign’s products. On the music side, Christina Aguilera & Nine Inch Nails are a few music artist that use there products. My point is, is that DigiDesign makes very high-end sound equipment and are serious about what they do. Any way with out further ado…
<font color=green>Here is what DigiDesign has to say about VIA Chipsets.</font color=green>
The VIA chipsets handle IRQ routing and the PCI bus in a way that does not work well with bus master cards. Because Digi 001 is a bus master card we can not support motherboards based on the VIA driver - this <b>incompatibility</b> is consistent with other digital audio cards that are bus masters.
<i>Whoa.. that last sentence is explosive. Nearly all decent soundcards use PCI bus mastering, including the wildly popular SoundBlaster Live! cards. Even though Creative Labs has not publicly admitted that there is a problem (in fear of lost sales, no less) there is certainly evidence of a problem. Again, beware of which soundcard you choose to use with you’re VIA motherboard.
Some common problems using Soundblaster Live! cards with VIA chipsets:
• Sound crackling
• DMA issues
• Sporadic system hangs</i>
Hauppage is the manufacture of a great line of TV cards for PC's. The WinTV cards are very popular and have solid drivers and software, well, I should say solid drivers until you try to use them on a VIA motherboard.
Hauppage had this to say about it :
"Causes for System Lockups: Some non-INTEL PCI controller chipsets on the motherboard will not allow the WinTV to <b>bus-master</b> video into VGA cards, and therefore will cause a system lockup. All motherboards which use Intel PCI bus controllers work with the WinTV. Also, if your motherboard chipset is compliant to PCI 2.1 specifications, you should be o.k.
Known chipsets that will cause lockups are certain SIS, VIA, UMC, ALI, and some OPTI. Our latest software has some added updates for SIS and VIA incorporated in the software which may address the problem. If the problem persists, sometimes the motherboard manufacturer may provide an updated BIOS which can fix the problem. Also, if the board is based on a VIA chipset, some updates available at VIA's website may also address the issue (http://www.via.com.tw/drivers/index.htm)"
<i>Well, I hate to sound like a broken record but, buyer beware. Hauppage has been trying to get around VIA’s poor bus mastering scheme with updated drivers but many users are only having varied degrees of success with them.</i>
<font color=green>More VIA incompatibilities, bugs, fixes, patches and general information. </font color=green>
Microsoft released a patch to Windows 2000 correcting a particularly annoying <b>incompatibility</b> with the VIA AGP chipset. But if the problem is not that bad, MS said, better wait for the next service pack to really fix it.
The issue is a pair of nasty bugs with VIA AGP chipset compatibility that causes machines to hang with 3D rendering and on resume from hibernate mode. The hibernate mode problem is particularly nettlesome, since a user could conceivably get caught in a loop of resumes and OS hangs.
The patch provides a complete fix for both VIA AGP chipset issues, <b>but MS isn't making any guarantees. The patch comes with a disclaimer that it hasn't been fully regression tested and a recommendation that users wait during the next few weeks for a service pack release for Windows 2000, which will incorporate a properly tested version of the patch.</b>
<i>Ok, it seems that Microsoft has released a patch to correct another AGP issue with VIA chipsets, but the patch is not officially guaranteed to work. Microsoft says to wait for SP2. In any case, it’s always good practice to install new service packs as they are released.</i>
<b>-Other VIA related issues</b>
<font color=green>IDE-controller of the VIA south bridge and Ultra ATA/33 CD-ROM (CD-RW, DVD)</font color=green>
Some ATAPI CD-ROM (CD-RW, DVD) drives which support Ultra ATA/33 mode work incorrectly when connected to the VIA BusMaster IDE-controller included in the VIA south bridge via a standard 40-thread cable. The problem lies in breaking of the integrity of data while reading discs or in a wrong recognition of the format when first applying to the disc. There are two ways to solve it. The simplest one is to prohibit usage of Ultra ATA for such storage device in the BIOS or in the diagnostic utility from the VIA IDE BusMaster Drivers' set. The second way can be used in those cases if you don't want to restrict drive's performance, then you have to connect it with a 80-thread Ultra ATA/66-cable (despite the fact that the device will work in Ultra ATA/33 mode!).
<font color=green>Disabling of the secondary IDE channel with BIOS </font color=green>
In case the secondary channel of the IDE-controller was disabled by BIOS the system manager in Windows 98 can lose the both IDE channels (showing them as disabled), as well as define the USB-controller as a disabled device with "Code 12" status. The Windows 98 SE has a bit different reaction on disabling the secondary channel with BIOS: the IDE controller is recognized as an incorrectly operating device and rouses conflict of resources when making a request for interrupt. The users of the Windows 98 SE can solve this problem having loaded the patch from Microsoft which can be found at www.entry.kiev.ua/Support/245682US8.exe. The Windows 98' users should either renew the OS up to Windows 98 SE (and then use the aforementioned method) or use the Windows system manager functions (not BIOS) in order to disable the secondary IDE channel.
<font color=green>Sound subsystem of the VIA 686A/B south bridge. Game port </font color=green>
Some boards with the VIA VT82C686A(B) south bridges may feature the following problem: after the integrated sound card (AC'97 Audio) was deleted from the system manager the joystick for a game port left in the list of existing devices. The reason is that the driver of the game port (vjoyd.vxd) can not in fact define whether the device is included in the system, that's why once installed it starts up every time with the system' booting. In order to solve the problem you should delete the device manually.
OK. If you have made it this far I have to congratulate you on your endurance. Well done.
So what can we make of all this? Simply put, VIA’s chipsets suck. Or if you prefer we can blame all the problems on DigiDesign, Hauppage, Nvidia, Creative Labs and Microsoft. Either way, whomever you choose to blame the problems and incompatibilities will still exist. Keep in mind a whole book can be documented to this subject. For practical reasons I choose only to list a few examples. But one thing is certain, with a VIA motherboard new users are forced to hunt all over the net looking for drivers, patches, fixes and updates in hopes of –what many Intel users take for granted- a trouble free system.
Thanks for this. It would be easy to dissmiss this as just another rant by a discontented VIA user. I happen to believe the general thrust of what you say. Unfortunately the poor availability if AMD 760 chipset boards (in the UK at least) means that there is no real alternative to VIA if you wish to go AMD.
As for me, I'm off to buy a CUSL2 and PIII..........
So that is why my SB Live crackles all the time.. grr I just figured my CL TNT PCI vid card was using up too much of the PCI bandwith. I still plan on getting a AGP GeForce just in case..
Everybody, may I suggest that you go over to <A HREF="http://www.overclockers.com" target="_new">OverClockers.com</A> and read the new informative articles about VIA chipsets <b>A Lower Standard</b> and <b>When 10% Are Bad, 90% Don't See It</b>. That site deals almost exclusivly with with the AMD/VIA platform and they have pretty much seen it all.