Clash of the KT266A Titans!

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Clash of the KT266A Titans! - Page 7

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

By, Marco Chiappetta
December 13, 2001

Synthetic benchmarks and Quake 3 scores only show part of the picture.  We'll move on to some "real world" tests next.  We used ZD Labs' Business Winstone and Content Creation Winstone benchmarks on both boards as well...

More Performance
More of the Good Stuff!

First up we have Business Winstone 2001.  To explain exactly what this test does, I'll use a quote taken directly from ZD's eTestingLabs website:

"Business Winstone is a system-level, application-based benchmark that measures a PC's overall performance when running today's top-selling Windows-based 32-bit applications on Windows 98 SE, Windows NT 4.0 (SP6 or later), Windows 2000, Windows Me, or Windows XP. Business Winstone doesn't mimic what these packages do; it runs real applications through a series of scripted activities and uses the time a PC takes to complete those activities to produce its performance scores."


The KR7A-RAID, DRAGON+ and K7T266 Pro 2 all performed at about the same level, but the Asus A7V266-E definitely stole the show.  Although the performance difference is not dramatic, a full 1.3 point lead over it's closest competition is admirable, considering the exact same system components were used.

The Content Creation Winstone scores are tallied in the exact same fashion as they are in the Business Winstone tests, but consist of more bandwidth intensive graphics applications like Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premiere.


Again we see the Asus board clearly outpacing the others with Abit and MSI trailing by a couple of points.  The slightly more aggressive "default" timings on the A7V266-E seemed to have paid off in the "Real World" tests.


OK, time for the hard part...rating the boards and picking a winner.  All of these motherboards are excellent, and they are all similarly priced, ranging from $130-$160 US...there really is no clear overall winner if you consider their performance and features.  Instead of recommending one board over another, I'll give my opinion as to where each of these boards "fit" in the marketplace...


For the enthusiasts who want an excellent "pure" motherboard, that want to tweak their components for maximum overclocked performance, the Abit KR7A-RAID is my recommendation.  Hardcore overclockers will find all of the options they crave, and this board hit the highest overclocked FSB in the round-up, while remaining very stable throughout testing.  For what it's worth, the Abit KR7A-RAID has found a new home in my personal system (replacing the MSI K7T266 Pro 2).  Based on it's excellent overclocking options, diagnostic LEDs, excellent ATA133 capable RAID controller and it's stability, we give the Abit KR7A-RAID a HotHardware Heat Meter rating of 9.


The discriminating user whose main considerations are stability and performance, would be very pleased with the Asus A7V266-E.  This board does not have all of the overclocking options we like to see, but it's aggressive timings had it winning most of the benchmarks.  The A7V266-E was also an extremely stable motherboard, and is equipped with very good on-board sound.  It is an excellent board on which to base an Athlon system.  There are reasons Asus is the largest supplier of motherboards in the world...Quality and Performance, and the A7V266-E has them both.  Because of it's excellent performance, and stability but lack of any distinguishing features we give the Asus A7V266-E a HotHardware Heat Meter rating of 8.


The K7-DRAGON+ is the "Swiss Army" knife of this round-up.  It's gaming and synthetic memory performance scores were excellent, and this board is packed with more useful features than any other.  From it's black PCB to it's purple PCI slots, just looking at this product reveals that this isn't your average motherboard.  Gamers will appreciate that they will only have to add a nice video card to have an excellent rig, and users who like to show if their systems will love this board's appearance.  The DRAGON+ is a capable performer and was also very stable throughout testing.  The only things stopping me from giving this board a 10 are it's lack of DDR voltage adjustments and it's "slower" RAID controller, for now it gets a HotHardware Heat Meter rating of 9.

THE MSI K7T266 Pro 2:

In my opinion,  the MSI K7T266 Pro 2 caters to the largest market.  The DRAGON+ had better on-board sound, the Abit board overclocked higher, and the Asus board performed better, but the MSI K7T266 Pro 2 would probably please the most people.  It has all of the overclocking options tweakers look for, and has excellent features like the D-LED Diagnostic LEDs and USB 2.0.  It's manual and bundle were the best in the group, and this board was also very simply didn't crash.  It may not have "won" in the performance category, but the performance was so similar between these boards that you can't really hold too much against the K7T266 Pro 2 (I'll only take away 1/2 a point).  If the MSI K7T266 Pro 2 had an on-board NIC and performed a tad higher, I would have given it a 10 as well...but in it's current state, it garners a a strong 8.5.

Think you know about this hardware stuff?  Then get into the New H.H. Forum and Flap Those Gums!


Tags:  ita, Titan, Titans, K

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