Athlon KX133 Motherboard Roundup - A Nail-Biting Affair

Final Words

This comparison test shows one thing very clearly: The KX133 chipset is certainly superior to the AMD 750 in terms of performance. Even though most boards still came with early BIOS versions (partially beta), the majority of the tested boards ran stable in day-to-day operations under Windows 98 SE and NT 4.0 - if the BIOS settings were correct. However, the individual candidates displayed significant performance differences: while the Asus K7V and the Abit KA7 are in the lead in almost all benchmark disciplines, the LuckyStar K7VA133 and the Aopen AK 72 end up in last place. At least the slow performance of the Aopen AK72 is counterbalanced by a stable system behavior.

Windows 2000 Pro still shows distinct problems in connection with the KX133 chipset and a GeForce card. The VIAAGP.SYS driver that just does not want to work with the pre-release drivers from Nvidia (Detonator 5.14) at all caused the biggest problems. Here we can just wait for VIA to offer an appropriate driver update that also updates the file MACHINE.INF. On the other hand, we generally did not experience any problems under Windows 98 SE; all boards did the test run without complaints. A word about OpenGL performance: As already known from previous tests, all boards performed slightly better under Windows NT 4.0 than under Windows 98 SE. This is mainly due to the more powerful software architecture of Windows NT 4.0. Fans of games based on the Quake engine are still better off with the old NT platform (and a GeForce card with 5.x driver). Unfortunately NT does not offer any Direct3D hardware acceleration.

Nevertheless, performance is not everything. Other major criteria for motherboards are the features they offer. This includes the number of slots and connectors or a sensible arrangement of all interfaces. On some contestants, like for example the Aopen AK72 and QDI Kinetiz 7A, the power supply connector is much too close to the CPU slot. This makes it impossible to use a large heat sink with fan (maybe as replacement for an insufficient standard heat sink). Other shortcomings are the labels on all connectors and interfaces, that are often much too small. It requires using the handbook for desired clock adjustments.

Another advantage of the KX133 chipset compared to the AMD 750 chipset is the fact, that the memory clock can be operated asynchronously to the Front Side Bus clock. It is also possible to use fast VC-SDRAM modules; they are hardly available on the market, however. We are going to cover the performance gain with VC-SDRAM versus SDRAM memory at a later time in a separate article. As soon as a solution for the Windows 2000 driver problems becomes available, we will inform you about the performance of the test candidates under Microsoft's latest operating system.