First things first. Intel's i820 chipset with the 'elitist', super expensive RDRAM is still the overall fastest mainstream chipset for Coppermine. The only chipset that is faster comes at an even higher price point and is Intel's workstation chipset by the name of 'i840'. Both chipsets definitely require RDRAM to perform well though.
People who think that i820 with PC100 SDRAM is worth its money must be a lot closer to the 'lunatic fringe' than any PC-hobbyist. Maybe Mr. Dell should consider that before offering Dell-systems with this crazy constellation. Firstly i820-motherboards are rather expensive anyhow. Then you need to pay extra for the 'MTH' 'memory translator hub' chip that enables i820 to use the cheaper SDRAM instead of RDRAM. Now you can add PC100 SDRAM at a reasonable price, but look at the above results to see what horrible performance you get in return!
The CLEAR winner in this competition is VIA's VT82C694X or 'Apollo Pro 133A'. This chipset offers almost the same performance as i820 with RDRAM and it scores even identically to the expensive competition from Intel under office applications. For a most significantly lower price you get a product that scores slightly worse than i820/RDRAM in 3D-games and some 10% worse in professional OpenGL applications. For a normal consumer there's no alternative to it, for a workstation guy the story might look a bit different. I was honestly impressed with VIA once more. After the good Apollo KX133 for AMD's Athlon , which only had to beat AMD's aging 750-chipset, VIA has now shown that it can take on Intel just as well. Congratulations!
My last words are for system integrators and OEMs that offer i820 plus SDRAM. Please do us all a favor and get lost with this sorry combination! Your customers deserve better.
Follow-up by reading the articles 'Issues with VIA's Apollo Pro133A ' and 'Showdown at 133 MHz FSB - Part2, The Real McCoy '.
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