Socket-A Chipset Comparison - April 2001by Anand Lal Shimpi on April 5, 2001 2:16 AM EST
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The Moons are in Alignment
The problem we ran into when we reviewed the ALi MAGiK1 chipset back in November was that Iwill manufactured the board we tested. There is nothing wrong with Iwill, however when you add in the fact that the AMD 760 board we compared it to was a reference design from AMD and the KT133 it was pitted up against was an ASUS, we ended up dealing with a decent amount of variables. Whenever you're trying to compare something like a chipset, a tangible part that you unfortunately cannot pick and place on any motherboard you wish, it is always best to compare it to others on similar boards and board designs. It is the rare case that you are able to find a single manufacturer that offers three boards for the same platform, all with different chipsets.
It was very commonplace during the days of Socket-7 processors to find this rarity however, since there were enough manufacturers competing within the sector. But, as we mentioned earlier, VIA has had virtually exclusive reign over the Athlon market since the release of their KX133 chipset last year. Now, with ALi, AMD and VIA solutions available, motherboard manufacturers are almost forced to diversify, ASUS being one of them.
When we last paid a visit to ASUS they informed us that a big problem they were having is that they are forced to produce entirely too many lines of motherboards. This was particularly an issue when the i820 - i815 transition was taking place since there were i820 boards, i820 SDRAM boards (with MTH) that were being replaced and i815 boards. Then there were also their Apollo Pro 133A boards, their ServerWorks based board, and their Socket-A boards. Now that the i820 is almost nowhere to be found, ASUS is forced to deal with five Socket-A chipsets: KT133, KT133A, AMD760, and MAGiK1 as well as another few on the horizon, particularly 760MP and KT266. This does pose a problem since the more chipsets they have to juggle, the more motherboards they must have, and the more expensive maintaining their extensive product line becomes. ASUS, being the largest motherboard manufacturer, is definitely hit pretty hard since they are producing by far the most motherboards of any of their competitors.
Needless to say, there are currently three ASUS boards available that almost perfectly meet our needs of making a fair comparison among chipsets: the KT133A based A7V133, the AMD760 based A7M266 and the A7A266 based on the MAGiK1 chipset.
ASUS A7V133 (VIA KT133A)
ASUS A7M266 (AMD 760)
ASUS A7A266 (ALi MAGiK1)