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New Hope For Athlon - The VIA Apollo KX133 Chipset

Conclusion

The long awaited Apollo KX133 chipset from VIA Technologies is without the slightest doubt a good product. In all benchmarks it performed better than AMD's aging 750 'Irongate'-chipset, beating it in some by more than 50%. It is the one thing that AMD really needed to keep Athlon competitive with Intel's Coppermine. In my eyes VIA was able to keep its promises for the very first time. I remember numerous previous VIA-chipsets that always looked great on paper but never lived up to its specs. The KX133-reference board is also the first pre-release VIA-motherboard I ever received, that worked without a flaw in a very instant. If this should be a sign for the direction in which VIA is heading, then I want to send my deepest 'kudos' over to Taiwan, the former 'Formosa'. At the same time I'd like to remind however, that there's still a lot of expectations that want to be fulfilled soon. KX133 needs a higher memory bandwidth to accommodate AGP4x in a more efficient way and I wonder if I will live to see an SMP-chipset from VIA Technologies any time soon.

If you are an end-user you certainly want to know if I recommend motherboards with this chipset. My answer is simple. If you are planning to buy an Athlon platform you should not possibly miss it. If you already own an Athlon-system with AMD's 750 chipset and if you mainly run office applications or web-software then I can't see any reason why you would have to swap your current motherboard with a KX133-board. Office applications hardly benefit from higher memory-throughput, something that makes Intel-platforms with i820 or i840 chipsets completely unattractive to office users as well. Gamers have to decide if the 5-7% in gaming performance offered by KX133 are reason enough to say goodbye to their old Irongate-boards.

If I knew how long it will take VIA to offer a KX133 version that supports DDR-SDRAM, I would give the same advice I gave all the people interested in GeForce. Wait until the DDR-version is available.

Follow-up by reading the article 'NVIDIA's New NT-Drivers for Athlon on KX133 '.