Socket A DDR Chipset Comparison – Revisited

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Results Table

Here is the complete test result table, which will give you all the complete data. Mainboard, BIOS versions and settings are listed for reference.

Win98SE, 1024×768/64K @ 85Hz, 128MB memory, WD 200BB ATA/100 7200-PRM HD, GeForce II GTS 32MB AGP

Mainboard

Gigabyte 7DX

Soyo K7ADA

MSI K7T266 Pro

Soyo K7VTA Pro

BIOS F2, Man., CAS2, rest default

BIOS 2AA1, Man., CAS 2, Ultra

BIOS 11, Performance setting, AGP Fast Write

BIOS 2AA3, CAS 2, 4 Way

CPU

A1.2

A 1.2

A1.2

A1.2

Chipset

AMD 761/ VIA 686B

ALi MAGiK1

VIA KT266

VIA KT133A

FSB

266MHz

266MHz

266MHz FSB

266MHz FSB

Memory

PC2100 – SEC

PC2100 – Micron

PC2100 – SEC

PC133 – Hitachi

Winstone 2001

Business

44.9

44.6

44.9

43.8

Content Creation

46.7

46

45.7

44.5

3D Winbench 2000

Score

118

119

122

119

CPU

2.63

2.57

2.62

2.51

Winbench 99

CPUmark 99

113

110

112

108

FPU Winmark

6550

6520

6580

6550

Business Disk

6810

6730

6760

6710

High Disk

19100

19400

19200

18800

Business Graphics

582

576

584

570

High Graphics

1640

1620

1650

1610

3D Mark 2001

Score

3098

3052

3178

3085

Game 1 Low

51.5

51.8

56.5

55.8

Game 1 High

23.7

23.5

24.8

23.7

Game 2 Low

46.1

42.2

45.4

46.3

Game 2 High

16.4

16.7

17

16.1

Game 3 Low

63.5

64

64.2

62.1

Game 3 High

34.2

33.5

34.1

32.4

Quake III Demo 1

181.4

173.5

174.1

162.9

Final Reality

Score

8.02

7.38

8.14

7.29

2D

11.28

10.02

10.86

9.91

3D

6.35

6.33

6.57

6.49

Bus

7.62

5.95

8.46

4.97

AGP

346.66

341.55

340.99

338.74

Video2000

934

872

922

862

SYSmark 2000

Overall Rating

225

221

221

216

Internet Content Creation

227

226

226

219

Office Productivity

224

218

218

213

MemTach MB/sec (avg.)

Memset

513.3

616.4

514.4

375.5

Memcpy

294.8

302.2

305.2

271.4

Fill – double

487.2

361.6

470.5

377.8

Fill – int

520.9

628.4

521.6

378.9

Fill – short

306.9

360.4

323.1

236

Fill – char

281.5

312.7

280.5

223.3

Sum – double

700.8

746.4

825.4

822.9

Sum – int

422.1

461.2

466.2

462.6

Sum – Short

351.9

349.8

381.4

380.3

Sum -Char

325.1

333

350.1

299.9

Random – int

82.8

82.9

83.2

83

Summary

In a nutshell, all three DDR SDRAM mainboards and chipsets are so close there really won’t be any noticeable difference between them in actual usage. In looking over the scores above, the AMD and VIA DDR end up being pretty much in a tie for first place, with the ALi in a very close second. Even the SDRAM VIA isn’t much slower, but it does lose out to all three of the DDR based chipsets. In most cases, the three DDR mainboards are within a couple of percent of each other, and within the 3% variance I’d use as a margin of error. At about 5% as an average, the SDRAM based mainboard is so close it’s hardly worth even worrying about.

Over the last couple of months we have seen the AMD, ALi and VIA DDR SDRAM chipsets mature and gain a small amount of performance. The VIA has shown the most, but since it is the newest that’s pretty much to be expected. MSI and VIA should be congratulated for bringing the MSI KT266 Pro and it’s VIA KT266 chipset up to speed, as it is now pretty much the equal of the AMD 760 based MoBo’s.

The only thing I think that is disappointing is that most of us expected the VIA KT266 to be the fastest, but maybe that just goes to show how good the AMD 760 is. And don’t forget about ALi, as they are holding their own. The MAGiK1 chipset was expected to be number three in performance, yet it is still able to match the AMD or VIA in a number of benchmarks.

So what to buy? I’d recommend looking at features and price. Choose the mainboard by how it fits your needs, with items such as number and type of slots from a company you are comfortable with. If you are looking for every little bit of speed, then VIA or AMD should be on the top of your list. If price is a major concern then ALi may meet your needs.

One thing I haven’t discussed is chipset features. For most that won’t make any difference, but to some it may, and there are minor differences that are best found by checking the chipset manufacturer’s site. In the future we will see the VT8233C Southbridge used with the KT266, and this will include an integrated 10/100 NIC. So expect to see KT266 based mainboards with an inexpensive NIC onboard in the next couple of months.

Should you even buy a DDR SDRAM mainboard over a SDRAM based? I think so, since they have matured and are the memory of tomorrow that is available now. SDRAM will slowly phase out of the mainstream upper end systems. At this time both SDRAM and DDR SDRAM are very low in price and the difference between the two is minimal.

One final note: I ran all four Mainboards for many hours during the testing over the period of a few days, all were 100% stable with the settings used. Stability should not be a concern at all with any quality made DDR SDRAM mainboard. All ran fine as tested and were also tested with a SoundBlaster Live installed, along with a PCI Win Modem, just to make sure all was stable and compatible.


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