VIA Apollo KX133 Athlon Chipset - Part 2by Anand Lal Shimpi on February 24, 2000 7:41 PM EST
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Be sure to read Part 1 of our KX133 Review for more information on the chipset.
Only a couple of weeks ago, we took a look at the performance of VIA’s recently released KX133 chipset for the Athlon. Since then, we have had the opportunity to take a look at a couple of shipping motherboards based on the KX133 chipset and have decided to provide an update on performance scores using shipping boards as well as performance benchmarks under Windows NT.
From the manufacturers we have talked to, their KX133 based motherboards are essentially complete, with the only thing left to be addressed being BIOS tweaking and any compatibility issues that may pop up. It is partially because of this that we are revisiting the chipset to see how the shipping performance of the KX133 compares to the reference board that we benchmarked not too long ago because, after all, you can’t go out and purchase VIA’s reference design with their extremely configurable BIOS setup to tweak your performance.
One of the areas of performance that didn’t make it into Part 1 of our KX133 review was professional level OpenGL performance. However, since then, we have received updated Windows NT 4.0 drivers (version 3.76) that dramatically improve memory and AGP performance under Windows NT with the KX133 chipset.
We asked NVIDIA exactly what these drivers enabled with the KX133 and this was their explanation:
Please find attached an un-numbered driver which fully supports AGP 4X in VIA's KX-133 Chipset for Athlon under Windows NT4. These modifications to our existing driver were made as soon as we received the preliminary board that VIA sent us last week and will be included in a driver release when motherboards using VIA's KX-133 are readily available for purchase. This Chipset was not available for verification of the Chipset ID at the time that the 3.68 driver was released and AGP support is not generically enabled by Windows NT4 for any devices.
It is written specifically for each separate component by our Graphics Driver team once we have the appropriate silicon in hand. Every time a new Core Logic component is released to the market from AMD, Intel etc... the NVIDIA Driver team adds AGP support for that device to our NT4 Graphics driver shortly after we receive the product.
AMD received a driver similar to this one last Friday(1/28) to do some preliminary testing, but, the driver below has been created uniquely for your testing and has not been passed through qualification testing. Please keep the driver id and number confidential and do not release this driver outside of your testing labs. It is not intended for general usage.
Regardless of what the driver actually enables/disables, the fact of the matter is it significantly improves the professional level OpenGL/NT performance of NVIDIA products on the KX133 platform.
Whether or not this was actually a conspiracy to hide the Athlon’s true high-end performance is up to you to decide, but to us it seems like a case of NVIDIA not having a final KX133 sample in time for the improvements to be included in their last driver release.
Armed with EPoX's newly shipping 7KXA KX133 motherboard, we took the KX133 back to the tests to make sure that the shipping performance of the chipset was up to par with what VIA's reference design provided us with not too long ago.