VIA KT266 Socket-A DDR Chipset: Third time's a charm?by Anand Lal Shimpi on April 10, 2001 3:44 AM EST
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When the VIA KX133 was launched, with PC133 SDRAM, it was just barely faster than the AMD 750 with PC100 SDRAM. However the improvement in features, availability of the chipset, and the overall cost of the solution were three major driving points behind the AMD 750 to VIA KX133 conversion that occurred in early 2000. After that happened, it would be quite rare that you'd find an AMD 750 motherboard for sale, as almost everything was KX133 based by then.
The AMD 760 is in a bit of a different situation, since the platform does not have many of the performance or feature issues that the AMD 750 had. The only real drawbacks are availability and price, which will unfortunately prevent the AMD 760 from becoming the chipset it could have been. That is a plus for VIA since they clearly have the superior DDR chipset outside of the AMD 760 .
From the perspective of the true enthusiast, the AMD 760 is still and will probably continue to be the highest performing Socket-A chipset platform for a decent amount of time. You shouldn't be too worried about a lack of support for the chipset, especially since the 760MP is just around the corner and will also require much of the same driver support that the current 760 does meaning that there is very little chance of AMD pulling support on the product.
From the motherboard manufacturer's perspective, the AMD 760 is still too expensive of a part to base a large portion of your motherboards on, making the KT266 perfect. We would rather see boards use the KT266 than the ALi MAGiK1, not so much because of the small performance differences that do exist when both are running using PC2100 DDR SDRAM and the 133MHz FSB, but because of what happens when you take the FSB down to 100MHz. The fact of the matter is that the KT266 is quite attractive to motherboard manufacturers, because it is cheaper than the AMD 760, offers performance that is slower than the AMD 760 but not by as great of a degree as the MAGiK1 and it is from a company that has been developing a pretty good track record in recent times.
The KT266 is still a maturing platform, if you plan on becoming an early DDR adopter we'd strongly suggest against going with the KT266 now and sticking with the AMD 760. As you can see, the KT266 is currently not able to really even outperform the KT133A most of the time, but as we mentioned in our Socket-A Chipset Comparison, these chipsets and the motherboards they are used on do mature over time.
We will keep a close eye on the KT266, and revisit it if/when the time comes that we can look at a more mature platform much like what we did in the most recent chipset comparison. Until then, you know what we recommend, and you've got the data to make your own decision so, go for it.
Special thanks to http://www.newegg.com for supplying us with a Retail MSI K7T266 Pro Motherboard