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VIA KT333 Based Mainboards Roundup

July 17, 2002



When we described the VIA's KT333 chipset we supposed that there were two possible ways of its development: its replacement with the expected KT333A and usage of the VT8235 south bridge. Both are not realized yet. New boards based on the KT333+VT8235 are still being announced, but we won't see them on the market. That is why in the second part of the comparison testing of the KT333 based mainboards we have models with equal initial conditions coinciding with those of the boards of the first part of the test. As to a USB 2.0, some of the today's participants have it, even without the VT8235.

Test conditions

Testbed:

Software:

  • Windows 2000 Professional SP2
  • DirectX 8.1
  • VIA 4-in-1 4.38
  • NVIDIA Detonator 28.32 (VSync=Off)

  • VirtualDub 1.4.9 + DivX codec 5.0 Pro
  • WinAce 2.11
  • BAPCo & MadOnion SYSmark 2002 Internet Content Creation
  • BAPCo & MadOnion SYSmark 2002 Office Productivity
  • MadOnion 3DMark 2001 SE
  • idSoftware Quake III Arena v1.30
  • Gray Matter Studios & Nerve Software Return To Castle Wolfenstein v1.1
  • DroneZmarK

Here is the summary table of all mainboards tested today:


Board Abit AT7 Abit KX7-333R Acorp 7KT333 Albatron KX400+ AOpen AK77-333 QDI KuDoz 7E/333-A
Links Abit AT7 Abit KX7-333R Acorp 7KT333 Albatron KX400+ AOpen AK77-333 QDI KuDoz 7E/333-A
Chipset VIA KT333 (KT333 + VT8233A)
Processor support Socket 462 (Socket A), AMD Duron, AMD Athlon, AMD Athlon XP
Memory slots 4 DDR 4 DDR 3 DDR 3 DDR 3 DDR 3 DDR
Expansion slots AGP/ 3 PCI AGP/ 6 PCI AGP/ 6 PCI AGP/ 6 PCI/ CNR AGP/ 5 PCI/ CNR AGP/ 5 PCI/ ACR
I/O ports 1 FDD, 2 IEEE 1394 1 FDD, 2 COM, 1 LPT, 2 PS/2
USB 4 USB 1.1 + 2 USB 2.0 + 1 connector for 2 USB 1.1 + 1 connector for 2 USB 2.0 2 USB 1.1 + 1 connector for 2 USB 1.1 2 USB 1.1 + 1 connector for 2 USB 1.1 2 USB 1.1 + 1 connector for 2 USB 1.1 2 USB 1.1 + 1 connector for 2 USB 1.1 + 2 connectors for 2 USB 2.0 2 USB 1.1 + 1 connector for 2 USB 1.1
Integrated IDE controller ATA133
External IDE controller HighPoint HPT374 HighPoint HPT372 - - - -
Sound AC'97 codec, Avance Logic ALC650 - AC'97 codec, Avance Logic ALC101 AC'97 codec, Avance Logic ALC650 AC'97 codec, Avance Logic ALC650 AC'97 codec, Avance Logic ALC650
Integrated network controller Realtek RTL8100B - - - - -
I/O controller Winbond W83697HF Winbond W83697HF Winbond W83697HF Winbond W83697HF Winbond W83697HF ITE IT8705F
BIOS 2Mbit Phoenix-Award BIOS v6.00PG 2Mbit Phoenix-Award BIOS v6.00PG 2Mbit Phoenix-Award BIOS v6.00PG 2Mbit Phoenix-Award BIOS v6.00PG 2Mbit Award Modular BIOS v6.00PG 2Mbit Award Modular BIOS v6.00PG
Form-factors, dimensions ATX, 30.5x24.5 cm ATX, 30.5x24.5 cm ATX, 30.5x21 cm ATX, 30.5x22 cm ATX, 30.5x24.5 cm ATX, 30.5x23.5 cm

It's useless to test mainboards because the difference will be to low to be more important than other characteristics of a board. The only real benefit is to reveal crucial drawbacks which can be corrected, as a rule, by flashing a new BIOS version. Putting the card before the horse, I must say that there are no any big downsides, though the gaps between the models are noticeable. In this connection we show only those test results which reflect such difference.

Test results

The MPEG4 encoding depends much on a memory speed, that is why this test and the following one are the best indicators of problems in the most critical part of operation of boards. The only remarkable result belongs to the Abit KX7-333R - the gap is about 4% (and 6% from the outsider AOpen).

The agressive memory access in archiving makes the difference greater: the leader's scores are 8% better than those of the AOpen's model and Abit AT7. The Acorp's and QDI's solutions go on a par falling behind the leader by a couple of percents.

SYSmark is a complex test of performance of office applications which much depends on a data exchange rate with a hard drive. There is no correlation with low-level tests but it is still interesting to compare their efficiency. The test didn't let us down having changed the situation for an opposite one. Well, it's like the conservation law - if anything disappears in one place, anything will appear in another :).

Finally we turn to games, where the performance difference, even very low, is very important, contrary to applications used in the SYSmark. In the 3DMark the boards which work with the memory better have higher scores.

In the other games the situation is the same, the maximum differences reaches only 3%. The Acorp's solution performs better here, which was expected taking into account its scores in the AWadvs-04 test of the SPECviewperf packet (we do not show data of this test because it is not very interesting from the practical point of view), which estimates a data rate through the AGP (with the same video card).

Conclusion

The Abit KX7-333R board turned to be the fastest one; it is followed by the Acorp 7KT333 and QDI KuDoz 7E/333-A. On the whole, the speed results of all the contestants are very close, that is why I do not recommend that you choose a board according to the above scores.

This is not the first or last review of the KT333 based solutions. There is a great deal of various boards on the market, that is why you should first determine technical characteristics (which differ very much depending on a board - just compare the Abit AT7 with some budget solution), read a detailed description of the models you are interested in and you will be able to find a solution acceptable in price and functions.

Soon we will publish the third part of the review with mainboards from FIC and Jetway, a new series from Chaintech (which uses a so long-expected VT8235) and something more.

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