General Comments & Concerns

There were a number of problems with the original KT266 that were only discovered after boards started getting into the hands of end users. One of those problems happened to be an issue with power being cut to the USB ports when overclocking the FSB past 138MHz. It turns out that this was entirely a power delivery issue where motherboard manufacturers hadn't taken this into account. The problem was solved on the KT266A reference board and we are happy to announce that all three of the boards we reviewed here worked fine with their USB ports at a FSB frequency of 150MHz and beyond. The way we tested was simple; we hooked up an Intel PC Pro web cam, a Microsoft Intellimouse, and a CF Reader all to the USB ports on the motherboard being tested. We then proceeded to copy a 70MB file to a 128MB CF card in the reader, while streaming video in NetMeeting using the USB web cam and continuously moving the mouse to generate even more traffic over the USB ports. Both at normal clock speeds and at overclocked FSB settings we encountered no problems with any of the boards.

The next bit of news we have to report isn't as positive and it is in regards to support for the Athlon XP's on-die thermal diode. One of the mobile centric features of AMD's new Palomino core is the long awaited introduction of a thermal diode to more accurately measure the chip's temperature on the die itself. Unfortunately, as we saw when the first Intel processors began shipping with on-die thermal diodes years ago, motherboard manufacturers are very slow to support the diode with their designs. All three of the boards we evaluated continued to use external thermisters to measure CPU core temperature in spite of the presence of the new thermal diode in the Palomino cores. This was to be expected as it wasn't until the latter days of the Pentium III and really until the Pentium 4 that we saw motherboard manufacturers read CPU temperatures directly off of Intel's on-die diodes. While it would be nice to see a quicker adoption phase with Socket-A motherboards we're not getting our hopes up. As you can probably guess, a major feature for all of the current and upcoming KT266A motherboards is full support for AMD's Athlon XP processor.

We've been making a lot of comparisons to the i845 lately mainly because the chipset and motherboards were very mature upon their launch. These three boards are also doomed to that same comparison. Although they clearly outperform the i845/Pentium 4 solutions, the maturity level of these initial motherboards just isn't there yet. As you'll surely see, the performance varies enough between the contenders that it's too early to crown a performance leader; BIOS revisions over the next few weeks will play a major part in the performance maturity of these boards.

We just recently started stress testing the motherboards we review even more by benchmarking with all memory banks populated. Despite some isolated quirks, all three boards worked fine with all of their memory banks populated.

The final point to make is that the KT266A boards we are looking at today are among some of the most affordable, high performing boards available. If you remember back to the Athlon's introduction where good boards were $170+, it's refreshing to see solid boards retail for under $100 in some cases.

With that said and done, it's time to get to the contenders.

Index EPoX EP-8KHA+: Pure Speed
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  • Rachel321 - Monday, July 18, 2022 - link

    The next bit of news we have to report isn't as positive and it is in regards to support for the Athlon XP's on-die thermal diode. One of the mobile centric features of AMD's new Palomino core is the long awaited introduction of a thermal diode to more accurately measure the chip's temperature on the die itself. Reply
  • Rachel321 - Monday, July 18, 2022 - link

    There were a number of problems with the original KT266 board that only showed itself after batches were sent out to early adopters. One of those issues was an issue with power being cut off to USB ports when overclocking the FSB past 138Mhz Reply
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