The New Elite? The First Athlon Motherboards With VIA's KT400 Chipset
AMD has made a comeback - thanks to the Athlon XP 2600+, the chip manufacturer mingles once more at the front of the pack. Still, there's a lot to be done because Intel is approaching the 3 GHz marker with giant steps. Due to the fact that the Athlon XP runs at a significantly lower clock speed, the only way that it can reach a comparable performance level is by way of an optimized platform.
This is exactly where VIA fits in with its KT400 chipset. As indicated by the name, this new chipset supports the fastest of all the DDR standards, namely DDR400 (alias PC3200). With a full 400 MHz memory clock, and the option of a 333 MHz FSB clock, the newcomer is currently the most optimal - theoretically, at least.
While Intel won't be offically making the switch to DDR333 until this fall, this memory type has already become the standard in AMD systems. Today, you can also get modules for operation in the fast CL2 mode, and this is something that might not happen with DDR400 for months. The question then arises: is the 20% performance increase (resulting from a clock increase from 333 MHz to 400 MHz) noticeable despite slower memory timings, or is it better to invest in a good motherboard with KT333? To answer this question, we took four KT400 motherboards and put them through rigorous testing for a first look comparison.