Clash of the KT266A Titans!

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Clash of the KT266A Titans! - Page 5

Clash of the KT266A Titans!
Motherboards from Abit, Asus, Soyo and MSI Do Battle!

By, Marco Chiappetta
December 13, 2001

OVERCLOCKING CAPABILITIES:

All of these boards may have overclocking ability, but that does not mean that they were all created equally.  We unlocked our Athlon XP 1800+, dropped the multiplier and proceeded to find the highest stable Front Side Bus (FSB) frequency possible with each board.  To be deemed "stable", each board had to complete a round of 3D Mark 2001, complete a CPU, Multimedia and RAM benchmark in SiSoft Sandra and allow us to play Quake 3 Arena for about a 1/2 an hour.  We didn't include benchmarks from each board while overclocked, but have stated the maximum speed we attained at the end of each section. 

ABIT:

There is no doubt in my mind, that from the beginning, Abit's engineers designed the KR7A-RAID with overclocking in mind.  From within Abit's Softmenu III, multipliers are selectable from 5x-13x+, and FSBs can be altered in 1MHz. increments all the way up to 200MHz. (Keep in mind that the odds of hitting an FSB this high is very slim though.)  The VCore voltage can be raised up to 1.85V (+.10V), the DDR DIMM voltage can be adjusted between 2.55V-2.85V and the I/O voltage can be adjusted as well, with a 3.5V setting and a 3.65V setting available. With the ability to manipulate the multiplier, FSB and the Voltages supplied to the CPU, DDR and I/O withing the BIOS, tweaking your board for maximum performance should be a piece of cake.  With the KR7A-RAID, we were able to hit 1743MHz (10.5x166MHz.) with our XP 1800+, a 210MHz increase.  This may not be the highest overclock, but it was the highest FSB in the round-up.

ASUS:

The A7V266-E is also well suited to overclocking, but not quite as adept as some of the others.  Multipliers between 5x-14x are selectable, the FSB can be adjusted in 1MHz. increments up to a whopping 227MHz., and there are VCore adjustments up to 1.85V (in.25V increments) but no DDR or I/O voltage adjustments were present.  Something worth noting is that this board can work in a jumperless or jumpered mode.  Should a user choose not to alter their CPU settings in the system BIOS, they can still be altered via DIP switches mounted on the board.  The maximum FSB we were able to hit with the A7V266-E was 158MHz.  With the multiplier set at 11, that equaled 1738MHz. Another 200+ MHz. increase.

SOYO:

Using Soyo's "Combo Feature", which is similar to Abit's Soft Menu III, overclocking with the K7-DRAGON+ is very easy.  Users will find items to manipulate the CPU multiplier from 5.5x - 14x, the Front Side Bus can be altered from 95MHz. - 166 MHz. in 1 MHz increments and there are VCore voltage adjustments ranging from 1.35v - 1.85v in +0.025v increments. DDR and VIO adjustments are absent on the DRAGON+ though, so the truly hardcore overclockers may be a tad disappointed.  We had fairly good luck overclocking with the DRAGON+ though.  We hit a completely stable 1760MHz., 11 X 160MHz.  The highest CPU speed in the group.

MSI:

MSI has equipped the K7T266 Pro 2 with a full compliment of overclocking tools as well.  The "Hardware monitor" section of BIOS offers VCore voltage adjustments (up to 1.85V) and DDR voltage adjustments (2.6V, 2.7V or Auto).  FSBs are selectable up to 164MHz in 1MHz. increments and the multiplier can be set as high as 15.  The K7T266 Pro 2 was a very stable board, hitting the second highest FSB in the round-up.  We turned up the FSB to it's maximum setting of 164MHz and set the multiplier to 10.5 for a top speed of 1722MHz. with no problems.  We would have loved to see 11x164, but it wasn't meant to be with our particular CPU.

Hopefully by now, we've given you a good idea of what these boards are made of.  The all important numbers are up next...

The Hot Hardware Test Systems
Some Bad Mamma-Jammas!


COMMON HARDWARE:

 

AMD Athlon XP 1800+ (1533MHz.)

256MB Corsair PC2400 (CAS 2, 4-Way Interleaving, 1T Command)

GeForce 3 Ti500 (23.11 Drivers)

3Com 3C905 NIC

Sound Blaster Audigy

IBM 7200RPM 30GB HD X 2 (RAID 0)

Creative Labs 52X CD-Rom

Standard Floppy Drive

Windows XP Pro (With all current updates)

DirectX 8.1

VIA 4-in-1s v.4.35

VIA AGP Update v.4.10

 

MOTHERBOARDS:

 

ABIT KR7A-RAID

ASUS A7V266-E

SOYO K7-DRAGON Plus

MSI K7T266 Pro 2

Performance Comparisons
Time for some numbers...

TESTING METHODOLOGY:

We have seen quite a variation in benchmark scores from one site to the next, so we feel it is necessary to explain exactly how we configured these boards before running any benchmarks.  The first thing we did was enter the system BIOS and set each board to their "Default High Performance" settings, and then we set the memory to CAS 2, 1T, with 4-Way bank interleaving.  The hard drives were then connected and formatted, and Windows XP Professional was installed.  After XP was completely installed, we hit the Windows Update site and downloaded all of the available updates.  We then installed all of the necessary drivers for our hardware, disabled Windows Messenger, disabled Auto-Updates and disabled System Restore.  Lastly we set the Visual Effects to "best performance", installed the benchmarking software, defragged the hard drive and ran the tests at the CPU's default clockspeed.

The first tests we ran were with Quake 3 Arena (v1.17) set to the "Fastest" graphics setting at a resolution and color depth of 640x480X16.  We disabled V-Sync in the GeForce 3's drivers, before running the "Demo001" timedemo...

QUAKE 3 ARENA:

Pay close attention to these graphs.  Although the bars show what seems to be a large performance gap, the difference between the "fastest" board, the Soyo K7-DRAGON+, and the "slowest" board, the MSI K7T266 Pro 2, was only about 7 frames per second.  All of these motherboards performed very well in this test.

Next up we ran the MPEG encoding test that is part of MadOnion's Video 2000 benchmark.

VIDEO 2000 MPEG ENCODE:

The tables have turned in this test.  This time around the K7-DRAGON+ brings up the rear while Asus's A7V266-E outpaces all of the other contestants.  The performance difference is very small though, all four boards scored within 1% of each other, which is well within the "margin of error".

SiSoft Sandra Steps to the Plate...

Tags:  ita, Titan, Titans, K

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