VIA KT133A Motherboard Roundup - June 2001by Mike Andrawes on June 13, 2001 2:52 PM EST
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It has been five months since VIA released the KT133A chipset and most motherboard manufacturers have released their corresponding solutions as well. If you are thinking about upgrading a current system, dropping in a KT133A based motherboard is one of the most cost effective ways to do it, since you will be able to reuse existing PC133 memory.
However, being the most cost effective upgrade right now does not necessarily mean it is the best solution in the long run. As CPU's become more and more powerful, memory bandwidth is getting to be more and more of a bottleneck. We have seen Intel release the i850 chipset with dual channel RDRAM while AMD has gone the DDR SDRAM route with their 760 chipset. Although these archrivals are pushing different technologies, both are designed to provide much higher memory bandwidth than current SDR SDRAM.
VIA's KT133A, with its "old" SDR SDRAM technology, has been able to remain competitive in most cases since the vast majority of today's programs are not able to take advantage of all the memory bandwidth offered by the newer technologies. As seen in our KT133A chipset review, the KT133A performs very closely to the AMD 760, and that's exactly why KT133A motherboards are still the choice for many AnandTech readers, especially since older PC133 SDRAM can be reused.
Furthermore, several problems have recently been discovered with many of VIA's chipset, with the KT133A being one of the most affected. One of the biggest issues is with data corruption when combining a hard drive hooked up to the 686B South Bridge with a Creative Labs Sound Blaster Live! sound card. At the same time, problems with connecting certain USB devices also seems to create some problems. A lot of users have discovered problems taking advantage of multiplier ratio settings on some KT133A motherboards when trying to overclock to a 133MHz FSB. This last one is more of an issue with certain manufacturer's implementations of multiplier controls, and not really a chipset problem.
Despite being chipset issues at heart, they created a lot of discussion about which KT133A is "bug free" and which one performs the best. At the same time, numerous BIOS updates and board revisions have been released that help to correct some the above problems. As such, we thought now would be a good time for us to take a look at all the KT133A boards we have in the lab and see which is best overall.
For this roundup, we are able to gather a total of eleven boards, including the ABIT KT7A-RAID, AOpen AK73 ProA, ASUS A7V133, EPoX EP-8KTA3, FIC AZ11EA, Gigabyte GA-7ZXR (2.2), Iwill KK266-R, MSI K7T Turbo, MSI K7T Turbo-R, Soltek SL-75KAV-X, and Soyo K7TVA.