First post, by nd22
Today I am going to start a new project to see which is the best socket socket A platform! Nvidia and Via will go head to head to determine one more time which is the best for your socket 462 processor! I am fully aware that back in the day nforce was considered the best chipset and a nforce based motherboard the best choice for socket A however using state of the art hardware and up to date software I will try to see if the new results will result in a new winner or a tie!
Without further ado let's begin:
Stage 1:system specs
1.CPU: Athlon XP 3200 2.2ghz with 400 FSB (actually it's 200)
2.RAM: Corsair 2*1gb CAS 3-3-3-8 DDR400 with silver heat-spreaders!
3.GPU: Leadtek geforce 7800gs 256mb. To all the people that will remind me that are stronger video cards on the AGP interface: I tried installing both the Radeon 4670 and the Radeon 3850! The system enters a continuous restart loop with either of the cards installed but runs just fine with geforce 7800gs/7600gt/X1600XT!
4. Storage: Maxtor 80gb HDD; Intel 180gb SSD (yes ,I know it's not period correct but I used it to speed up the boot times which are really slow on the Maxtor) various IDE optical drives; the system will not run with a SATA optical drive installed!
5. PSU: 350w FSP with strong 5V rail; old but good!
In one corner we have the Abit AN7 with nforce2 ultra 400 chipset; this motherboard does not have SATA integrated in the chipset but provided via a Silicon Image 3112 controller; 3 memory dims; after serious problems and numerous testing I have found a kit capable of running in dual channel configuration on this board and this is what I am going to use! Also the board has Sound Storm that provides one the best audio experience on systems of this era.
In another corner we have the Abit (you see a pattern here don't you?) KW7 with via kt880 chipset; SATA is integrated in the chipset; 4 memory dims and is far less picky about the memory running with just about every memory module I have; can run with 4 1gb dims in dual channel mode however I choose to use only 2*1gb because any 32 bit Windows (XP or 2000 - tried both) will recognize only 3gb and you must set 2T command rate in Bios for the system to be stable wherever with 2 dims the system runs at 1T!
Both systems have been configured to run only with minimum required hardware in order to complete the tests; wireless cards, extra USB cards have not been installed; unnecessary Bios options have been disabled!
Stage 2: software
1. operating system: Windows XP SP3 fully updated with POSReady2009 patch and all extra updates installed; I pondered about installing windows 2000 or 98 but I decided that XP is period correct and will also provide the best drivers and all the enhancements for the 2 systems. Latest version of DirectX9.0c is also installed.
2. benchmarks: 3dmark 2000/2001/2003; Aquamark3; driver version 175.19 has been used!
3. any other suggestions are welcomed!