The King of the Heap: 4 Chipsets for the Athlon64


Unfortunately, we can't define a clear ranking based on our benchmark results. In most of the disciplines, the chipsets finished neck and neck. That means that the recommendations can only be based on the motherboards, and not the chipsets.

At the moment, the SiS (755) and VIA (K8T800) chipsets finished a nose ahead of the rivals, who had to contend with small handicaps.

NVIDIA's performance gap, the 600 MHz HyperTransport upstream on the nForce3 150, is imperceptibly small in most disciplines. With the release of the nForce platform drivers version 3.13 and the graphics driver 53.03, NVIDIA managed to come along with the performance gap and pursue the competitors. In addition, the nForce3 250 and nForce3 Pro 250 have been announced, although we haven't seen any market-ready boards yet. They will offer more performance and added functionality such as Serial ATA, RAID and Gigabit Ethernet (Pro 250 only).

Rather than developing its own Northbridge component for the Athlon64 (basically just an AGP interface with a link to the Southbridge), ALi decided to buy the license for AMD's Northbridge. It's a powerful combo, but isn't quite powerful enough to outstrip SiS and VIA.

VIA has clearly made it a top priority to remain on the cutting edge, integrating a Serial ATA controller and a Gigabit-capable network interface. On top of that, it will soon be launching a revamped Southbridge with four, instead of two, SATA ports.

SiS uses a promising Northbridge Southbridge interface that goes beyond HyperTransport. This optimization process is called HyperStreaming. Unlike VIA, SiS' 755 enables overclocking with adjustable clock speeds for the PCI and AGP busses. Plus, the SiS 755 is faster than the M1687 and the nForce3 150.