Review Index:

NVIDIA nForce2 and VIA KT400 Chipset Gaming Comparison

Subject: Chipsets
Manufacturer: General


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Upon receiving my first NVIDIA nForce2 and VIA KT400 retail motherboards, I immediately began testing them and gathering data in order to compare them all. One of the first things I saw was that the VIA KT400 chipset and NVIDIA nForce2 chipset motherboards were showing some pretty different benchmark results – enough that I thought it was out of the ordinary.

The benchmark that sparked my interest was Quake III: Arena. While benchmarking the latest KT400 motherboards, I found that it was not performing up to par with the KT333 chipset motherboards I have tested with the same configuration. While the KT333 coupled with the Radeon 9700 was showing more than 300 frames per second, all of the KT400 boards were showing up in the 275 fps range.

That didn’t make sense, of course, as the KT400 chipset was just supposed to be generally faster than the KT333 chipset. Coupled with the fact that the KT400 chipset was offering 8x AGP where as the KT333 chipset was not, I knew something was amiss. Days of testing and correspondence with FAE’s (field application engineers) from ATI, NVIDIA and VIA, we discovered that the problem was restricted to only OpenGL or Quake III engine-based games and that the bottleneck was in the way those software components interacted with the 8x AGP bus.

VIA has told me that a fix will be in order in either a software update (from the 4 in 1 drivers) or from updated bios’ of the manufacturer of the board. I tested many, many other benchmarks and found that the problems I saw were restricted to the Quake III test by itself. Because of that, I didn’t feel it was necessarily as big a deal as I might have originally thought.

But, having done all this testing with the various setups, it seemed worthless to not present it to you in some form. :) So, that is why I am presenting you with a gaming comparison on the two latest chipsets for the AMD Athlon XP processors.