Abit KT7A vs. IWill KA-266

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Conclusion

It is surprising how little difference we end up with. A couple of percentage points here, a few there. This makes it very hard to pick a winner. I must say that I was a little disappointed in the IWill performance wise as I expected some across the board improvement. But I must temper this with the fact that I have had the Abit far longer, and I know how to tweak it very well. I don’t think there is much room for improvement in the Abit’s scores.

The IWill on the other hand, is built by a company that is better known for its workstation (read stability) products rather than its overclocking/tweaking potential. This is reflected in the BIOS. There are twice as many tweak settings in the Abit BIOS as there are in the IWill. But at the end of the day, the performance is line ball. And this I think gets to the core of my feelings towards the IWill. The Abit KT7A feels faster because I can fiddle with so many settings. The IWill KA266 just is fast! No tweaking :(

The simple rating score used (jokingly) throughout the article also scores the two boards identically, and even if I was using it as a counterpoint, it eerily echoes the way I feel about the two after the smoke has cleared.

Despite the gotcha’s mentioned above, I must stress that when the two boards were set up correctly, they were amazingly robust – I was impressed enough to mention this twice…

Enough fence sitting – Future proof?

Well DDR memory is here, available and cheap. And it is the future. If you are thinking of buying more/new memory and a motherboard, then the IWill is the smarter choice. Purchasing gobs of SDRAM now is counter productive. Sure it’s cheap, and SDRAM can be had for less cash than DDR, but in these tests, very good memory from two reputable manufacturers was used. The cheap stuff might not be able to handle all of the tweaks that the Kingmax can. And if that’s the case, we might see a more significant performance bias towards the IWill board – but as tested it’s line-ball, both in performance and cost.

A quick check of Pricewatch got me the following price for the KT7A – US$119, and US$120 for the KA266. Neither was the cheapest, but both came from the same reseller. With memory lineball as well, you can’t use price as a reason to avoid purchasing a DDR solution, or a reason to go with SDRAM.

For upgraders it is easier. If you already have good quality SDRAM and are thinking of upgrading, then a KT133A based board might just might be the ticket. Change chip and motherboard and presto – performance boost. If you already have a KT133A based motherboard, moving to DDR (at least the KA266) isn’t going to give you a huge boost – stick with what you’ve got. And that is the industry’s bane – no reason to upgrade.

If you need to purchase memory as well, then I’d be leaning towards the IWill and DDR. Don’t overlook the KA266 because of the ALi chipsets “reputation “, it’s not justified.


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