Test Marathon: 18 Motherboards With The VIA KT333 Chipset
After KT266A came KT333 - it took almost six months to get to this step. Even though talk of the KT400 was already in the air at the recent CeBIT 2002, the KT333 made it to the market first. And this is exactly the moment at which a transformation will take place in the market; boards with the VIA Kt266A chipset, somewhat outdated now, were recently considered to be a last cry, but the chipset's successor, the VIA KT333, carries on in its place. One thing is for sure: demanding users will want to make the switch. After all, in addition to an increased memory clock of 166 MHz, other interesting new features that the KT266A did not provide are now offered. However, users who keep a cool head will probably wait a bit until the next generation or two is available. If you want to wait for the KT400, you'll have to be patient, because DDR400 modules will come in a new mechanical design, named DDR II/400, and they aren't expected to be available before 2003.
The VIA KT333 supports DDR333 with a 166 MHz memory clock.
In the last six months, most of the AMD systems were sold with a motherboard that was equipped with the VIA KT266A chipset. Among all the chipsets that were available for the Athlon platform, the KT266A was the one that offered the best performance by far as well as extended functionality. Particularly when used with fast DDR166 memory (CL2), such a PC system can certainly compete with the somewhat more expensive competition from Intel, based on the Pentium 4.
New: the Southbridge of the VIA KT333 offers Ultra-DMA/133 support.
The problem: memory performance continues to be the aspect that drives development efforts for motherboards. In our recent article Unstoppable: DDR400 vs. Rambus we showed how memory affects the overall performance. With increasing processor speeds, the limited bandwidth of RAM puts a brake on the system. This is true for both the Intel Pentium 4 as well as the AMD Athlon XP/MP.
A marathon test: in a two-week long test, we evaluated a total of 18 of the latest motherboards with the VIA KT333 chipset. It didn't always run smoothly, and it's only through direct contact with the manufacturers that we were able to achieve the desired results. Often, the test runs were made with various BIOS versions and modified settings - we bring you detailed information and the practical aspects of each board, pluks 21 different benchmark tests with an integrated performance comparison to VIA KT333, KT266A and KT133A.