First Board With The KT880 Chipset: MSI KT880 Delta

While AMD is presently engaged in the forthcoming launch of its Socket 939, the first motherboards with VIA's KT880 chipset for the AthlonXP are starting to emerge. Actually, until their resurrection in Socket 754 is given the official stamp, the well-known chips will continue to be offered in Socket A.

As before, they are still comparatively cheap - the 2000+ to 2800+ models are all under $100. The performance they offer is perfectly adequate for most purposes. If 3D games are your main issue, you should in any case invest more money in a powerful graphics card rather than in the processor - NVIDIA's brand-new GeForce 6800 demonstrates the difference an ultramodern 3D board can make.

As for the processor, performance gains dwindle to nil, even at the heady heights of an Athlon 64 FX or the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition - there is a definite trend toward functionality, such as AMD's 64 bit support and Cool & Quiet, or HyperThreading and Intel's possible successor technology with more chips per processor unit.

To focus on the essentials these days is thus no idle pursuit - especially since it's unlikely to break the bank if you invest in a Socket A board with AthlonXP and cooler in order to add to existing components. The latest candidate to reach our lab is the KT880 Delta from MSI, which is based on VIA's nForce2 rival.