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DDR For AMD: 16 Boards With VIA KT266

DDR Power For AMD Athlon/Duron

This is a big round-up to digest so, we have written it in such a way that you can read each board review individually, and as a standalone piece, although the test results are combined for comparison's sake. Therefore, we repeat common assertions about the pros and cons of features such as USB ports five and six, and ANR, for each review to be comprehensive, and not because we like to repeat ourselves.

Amongst the herd of mammoth chip manufacturers, VIA isn't considered one of the leaders, despite its tremendous growth. With its head slightly bowed, this grey pachyderm trots behind others who trumpet loudly, pointing the way towards new pastures. VIAs competitors have drawn more attention to themselves through flashy functions and bleeding-edge high-tech features. For about two years now, VIA has been serious about its role mass production - quite in contrast to AMD and the Taiwanese rivals, such as ALi and SiS.

Nevertheless, the VIA KT266 has arrived at last - although it was announced early on, its market launch experienced considerable delays, and it will also take a few days before the first boards are available in large quantities. Still, VIA is the last among the manufacturers to offer a chipset with DDR-SDRAM support for AMD Athlon/Duron. And it's high time too, since powerful competitors are on the horizon. For instance, Nvidia's nForce should be a strong competitor in this category with dual-channel DDR support.

In previous tests, we have already examined the ALi Magik 1, AMD 760 and SiS 735 chipsets, highlighting the pros and cons. The fact remains that up until now, the SiS 735 has been regarded as the fastest chipset for AMD Athlon/Duron. This begs the question as to how VIA did its homework and solved the interaction with DDR-SDRAM.

No fewer than 16 boards landed in our THG lab. Most of the boards came directly from Taiwan, and most local vendors didn't even have a single sample at hand. Fortunatley, the fact that we have offices in the US, Europe and Asia prepared us to deliver a full set of benchmarks by helping us to source products wherever there was availability.