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Out of a total of 18 test candidates, the Gigabyte GA-7VRXP made the best impression: in all of the benchmark disciplines, this motherboard with the KT333 chipset ranks among the top performers. The only other boards to offer stiff competition were the Epox EP-8K3A+ and the Enmic 8TTX2+, both of which managed to achieve slightly better results in some of the tests. Nevertheless, the Gigabyte's rich features and special overclocking functions are convincing. Networking, sound, a RAID controller and a USB 2.0 chip are included in the list of features.
Note: AMD won't be requiring thermal protection for Athlon CPUs until June 10, so we've not included this new feature here.
The Gigabyte board does not yet have any protection against thermal death. The manufacturer continues to leave out unnecessary OEM interfaces such as ACR, AMR and CNR, which is of no use to the end user anyway. The wealth of materials and accessories included in the package completes our positive impression of this board, and so the Gigabyte GA-7VRXP wins the Tom's Hardware Guide Award for 2002.
We were somewhat disappointed by the Asus A7V333, because the manufacturer still delivers the board with an FSB that has been factory-overclocked to 135 MHz. There's essentially nothing to speak against this strategy, but a test comparison must be made based on identical conditions. Therefore, Asus gave us a modified BIOS, which uses a specification clock of 133.33 MHz. All other candidates use the standard clock speed. Apart from the FSB trick, the A7V333 is certainly a solid board with good performance and numerous features.
From a global point of view, we can conclude the following for the KT333 chipset: it's not worth it to switch directly from KT266A to KT333. Currently, the DDR333 modules available on the market are frequently meant for CL2.5 mode, so there's no performance gain compared to a KT266A system with DDR266 and CL2. It only makes sense to switch to the VIA Apollo KT333 if you use an appropriate motherboard (e.g., Epox, Enmic or Gigabyte) along with fast DDR333 memory (CL2). Some of the KT266A already have some additional features such as USB 2.0, RAID and FireWire. The only thing remaining is the Ultra DMA/133 function, which is used only by Maxtor hard drives at the moment.