In spite of their fairly popular Aladdin V based XA-100 motherboard, Iwill has been pretty faithful to producing Intel boards. The company has been unusually absent from the Athlon motherboard scene as of late.  They did not release any motherboards using the AMD 750 (Irongate) chipset nor a single board using the VIA KX133 chipset. 

However, that has all changed.  As we noted in our Computex 2000 coverage, the lack of any desirable chipsets from Intel left many motherboard manufacturers turning to VIA and AMD for solutions.  Also during our visit to Taipei we took a look at Iwill’s upcoming lineup which, not to our surprise, consisted of quite a few VIA based solutions, including their first Athlon board. 

With no prior experience in Athlon motherboard production, and also as a new “contestant” in the Socket-A motherboard market, can Iwill provide a Socket-A motherboard that is reliable and has the features that can allow it to compete with the ABITs and ASUSes of the industry?  Let’s find out as we take a look at Iwill’s first attempt at an Athlon/Duron motherboard, the KV200-R.

Iwill KV200-R

CPU Interface
Socket-A
Chipset
VIA KT133
Form Factor
ATX
Bus Speeds
100 – 166MHz (1MHz increments)
Voltages Supported
Auto Detect
Memory Slots
3 168-pin DIMM Slots
Expansion Slots

1 AGP Slot
5 PCI Slots (3 Full Length)
1 AMR Slot
0 ISA Slot

On-board Audio
C-Media CMI-8738 3D 4.1 Hardware Sound
BIOS
Award Modular BIOS 6.00PG

The Good

Compared to other KT133 motherboards, the Iwill KV200-R actually uses a smaller PCB, about 12” by 9”.  This is good news since using a smaller PCB design can generally reduce the production costs of the motherboard, which is reflected in the final retail price.  This is also why the first impression you get upon examining the board is that it has a very “busy” layout courtesy of the closely routed traces that are visible on the topmost PCB layer.

The power supply connector is next to the serial / parallel ports and a bit left of the CPU socket.  This means that you will have to run your ATX power cable over the memory and the CPU, potentially cluttering the case with cables.  So far from what we have seen the best place to place the power supply connector is the right edge of the PCB, where it will be directly under the power supply inside the case, so the cables do not have to run over the CPU and memory banks. 

To the left of the 462-pin Socket-A interface, sits the VIA 371 North Bridge which is the core of the KT133 chipset.  It provides home to all of the major features of the KT133 chipset, including the 133Mhz memory bus and AGP 4X support.  The AGP slot is a “universal slot,” which means it is not keyed specifically for AGP 2X or AGP 4X cards, so the user can install almost any current AGP card in the slot.  We have yet to see a KT133 motherboard implement any other type of AGP slot (other than an AGP Pro slot) which makes this much less of a feature and more of an observation common to all Socket-A boards.

More Good

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