VIAs KT266A DDR chipset is quickly becoming ubiquitous. If you frequent PC enthusiast message boards, youll probably note that boards based upon it are discussed a good ten times more than boards based on any other chipset--including AMDs own DDR core tech--put together. It is, of course, VIAs follow-up to the somewhat disappointing KT266, and it more than makes up for the weaknesses of that core.
When we covered the KT266A in detail here, in the same article, we made note that a good deal of the KT266A boards available at the time may not have been ready for prime time. Some of the boards were less than stable, and performance from one KT266A board to the next varied. We theorized that it was only a matter of time before the KT266A hits its peak.
The time has come. The late bloomers rounded up here shine with professional polish and flaunt more dependability than the early comers in the previous roundup. Likewise, in terms of performance, the five KT266A boards reviewed in this piece are remarkably similar in many cases--but that doesnt mean theres not a great deal of other factors separating one board from the next.
ALi MAGiK1 Chipset
A single gladiator in this roundup dares to feature a different chipset. The Soyo K7ADA is based instead on a new spin of the ALi MAGiK1 core. Created in the depths of Acer Labs, the ALi MAGiK1, which we covered here, has been getting mixed reviews thus far. While the VIA boards all churned out similar numbers in our death-defying series of benchmarks, the K7ADAs scores were decidedly different, some for the better, but most for the worse.
Note, though, that it wouldnt be fair to judge a chipset by a single board. The Soyo board reviewed herein raises concerns for the memory bandwidth efficiency of the MAGiK1--but it could very well be a characteristic the board itself. It suffered in a few of the more intensive tests, while the KT266A boards showed, for the most part, little variance. Its definitely worth following the commentary of DIYers in our forum who have worked with this and other ALi MAGiK1-based motherboards to get a better feel for the chipsets capabilities across the board. nForce Chipset?
No boards based on nVidias nForce chipset are featured in this set of reviews. Were taking an especially close-up look at one nForce board, and will report on that later.