Iwill XP333-R ALi M1647 Motherboard Review
Features and Layout
This content was originally featured on Amdmb.com and has been converted to PC Perspective's website. Some color changes and flaws may appear.Iwill is one of the few motherboard manufacturers to have a very consistent board layout scheme. At a glance, you should be able to tell how much the new XP333 layout resembles that of the KK266Plus motherboard, even though they use entirely different chipsets. This can have both positive and negative conclusions on your opinion of the layout. If you had a problem with the previous ones, chances are you will still find that fault here; on the other hand if you really liked the layout and are familiar with it, you should have no problems jumping right into the XP333 motherboard.
Starting at the top, the CPU socket itself is located well to the top and to the right on the PCB. This locations is fine, but could have been improved had they rotated the socket 90 degrees so that it would be easier for installation and removal of the heatsink while the board is installed in a case. There is plenty of room around the socket, so having a large heatsink and fan should not be a problem at all. Another nice thing that Iwill included was a pair of "PCB Guards" underneath both the clip sides of the sockets. These come in VERY handy when installing you heatsinks with screwdrivers (as is often necessary). In fact, during the installation of the heatsink on this board, the screwdriver slipped and struck the "PCB Guard", thus protecting the delicate PCB and traces underneath it.
The Iwill XP333 motherboard uses the latest C0 stepping of the M1647 chipset from ALi. This chipset claims to have a much improved memory and latency performance of the previous steppings. Whether or not they can compare to the numbers we have seen from the KT266A and nForce chipset will be shown in the benchmarks later. The north bridge of the chipset is covered by the impressive heatsink we first saw introduced with the KK266Plus motherboard. Unlike the KK266Plus, however, the XP333 motherboard will include this as the default cooling solution for the chipset.
The ATX power connector is still located behind the external audio interface, between the large capacitors and the AGP slot. This location is not one of the better I have seen recently, as the removal of the AGP power cord requires small fingers and/or a lot of persistence as the clip is a tight fit. Also, I would prefer not to have the power source for the entire system be located where it is basically touching the AGP video card when it is installed. As expected, the XP333 does include a 3-phase power solution for the best motherboard stability from the PSU.
There are three memory slots on the XP333, supporting the latest in DDR memory. The Iwill XP333 motherboard is the very first AMD platform to be claiming DDR333 support. DDR333 is simply the next upgrade in memory bus speeds, running at 166 MHz. Using many features in the bios for overclocking (which we will cover on the next page), you might be able to get an additional 33 MHz on your memory speeds if you have the memory to support it. The M1647 chipset can support upto 3GB of memory.
To the right of the memory slots are the IDE ports available on the XP333-RAID motherboard. The blue ports are the stanard IDE0 and IDE1 that you will find on both the XP333 and XP333-R, the yellow ports are the IDE-RAID ports available only on the XP333-R model. The floppy port is located all the way at the bottom of the motherboard, which may become a problem for those of you with full-tower cases where the floppy drive is located at the very top of it. A longer cable will surely be needed.
The slot configuration is in a 5/0/1/0 (PCI/ISA/AGP/AMR). The AGP port is running at 4x speeds and the PCI slots allow for more upgradeability than most users will ever use. While some sticklers for expandability may wonder why Iwill did not include a 6th PCI slot, I don't think many people will find that to be a big problem, especially when you consider the high quality audio that Iwill has included on the motherboard.
Speaking of the audio, Iwill has included the same audio system on the XP333 motherboards as they did on the Plus series of the KK and KA line of motherboards. There are two versions available, based on the user's needs. First, there is a standard 6-channel audio, that uses both the audio ports on the headers below the PS/2 ports and also a small riser card with two additional audio jacks. An even better solution is available in the Iwill SuperAudio system that uses the riser card for two additional audio jacks, two RCA SPDIF ports and two optical SPDIF. These should give most users more options and quality than they need. During testing, the audio quality of our board was very good, though testing audio is a very difficult thing to do.
Keep reading to find out what the XP333 has to offer you in terms of overclocking and RAID setups!