PIII Memory and Chipset Comparison

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So what did we find out? Well, the results as a whole show all the different memory technologies and chipsets tested are really quite close. Overall I would say the i815 and PC133 SDRAM was the performance winner, but the VIA Apollo Pro 266 and it’s DDR SDRAM did come in a close second. The question is, if it is the chipset that makes the difference or not… in other words did Intel just do a much better job than VIA? Or is it that due to the limited bandwidth of the PIII that DDR SDRAM (and maybe RDRAM) just isn’t being used to its full potential?

Now there are a couple of points I did not cover. PC133 SDRAM, and the mainboards that use it, are the easiest to find and cost the least. VIA based Mainboards generally cost less than Intel. RDRAM is still quite expensive, and mainboards that use it (other than for the P4) are hard to find. It is not really a viable product for the PIII market. VCM is hard to find, though there are a lot of VIA based Mainboards that do support it and the cost isn’t much more than PC133. DDR SDRAM is just coming on the market, prices have dropped and it’s now readily available. Mainboards using it do cost more than SDRAM, but it is the memory of the future (if you don’t use it this time, you will next time).

So what to buy? That is a hard call. The best overall performance and average price: SDRAM and the i815. Very good performance, tomorrow’s technology and the chance that some applications may benefit: DDR SDRAM and the VIA Apollo Pro 266. Best price is SDRAM and VIA 694X (or PM133 if you want to cut cost even more and use the integrated video). I would not even think about VCM or RDRAM for a PIII based system.

One other thing to think about is that the Intel Pentium III has been with us for quite some time now, and we will see some new CPUs from Intel over the next few months. It may be that the results will be quite different when using one of them. Not only the CPU and how it utilizes different memory, but also how well the new chipsets perform. It is the sum of all the components that counts…

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