The Best of VIA: KT266A Motherboard Roundup :: Introduction

02-13-2002 · Category: Motherboards

By Niso Levitas

It took quite a while to prepare this test and our normal flow of motherboard reviews has been disrupted. I think you will find it has been worth the wait. Our aim was to prepare a more comprehensive testing platform than any other site. If we are "the" motherboard site, then we have to set the "standard".

We have developed a system to evaluate a motherboard in the most comprehensive method possible. When judging the value of a motherboard we examine 40 features, 14 installation issues, and 6 points of packaging/support issues. Performance is also important of course, and yet after many years of testing I can confidently say that performance changes for a chipset is a maximum average of 5%.

That 5% of free performance increase does draw our attention, but stability, compatibility, and the features of that motherboard come before performance. So we distributed the value equally. We wanted to insure that our new scoring system is not only comprehensive and a real indication of the board's value, but also that it is understandable and repeatable by anyone. So if a motherboard scores a "67" you will understand why. For performance scoring, we are preparing a database. For this test we distributed it 1-15 points by weighted average. For the details about our new scoring system click here. As needed we will add new features to the system and time-by-time we will do shootouts for revising our performance database and renew our testing software and platform.

Why did we just tested the 845 DDR and KT266A platforms? For the Intel platform I don't think that there is anything left to say about RAMBUS. SDRAM is a senior citizen of memory community, but DDR looks like the platform for this year. I prefer stability over everything so Pentium 4 platform is 845 and DDR platform. Doc tested that platform and you can see his review here.

The KT266A and nForce platforms are the best performers for AMD CPU's. We have seen a lot of compatibility issues, modem, and capture card driver and IRQ problems on the nForce boards, which is actually doing very well for the first version. VIA has producing chipsets for a long time and while we suffered their compatibility issues for years, the time has come to benefit those experiences. I didn't see any compatibility issues with quality VIA boards. So the platform for AMD is KT266A till their new chipset arrives.

AMD is a good performer and the price-performance ratio is much better than Intel. There is just one issue that I dislike about AMD. Imagine that you are boot up your PC but one of the cables is preventing the fan propeller to rotate. Your CPU is now dead. Any manufacturing problem, your fan dies and your $ 280 XP2000+ is gone bye-bye. We saw that Pentium 4 just crashes or slows down on fan failure. AMD has prepared a protection circuitry but none of the boards tested support it. So we will point out, auto speed-down/shutdown on fan failure or auto speed-down/shutdown on CPU Heat alarm features as temporary precautions.

That's it. I will not "blah-blah" too much for this test. Feature comparison charts, performance graphs, new scoring system, and numbers will talk. You don't have to read all crap. We will just point out some features and how they achieved their scores.