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This is the biggest Achilles' heel of this board. Although the KT133 chipset can allow multiplier adjustments to the CPU to be performed from either jumpers on the motherboard or from the BIOS the AK33 doesn't support this feature. Obviously, enabling overclocking capability on a CPU with a pencil is not what I would term "normal" use - but a lot of other manufacturer's have made it a point to enable this feature and allow the user to determine for himself whether he wishes to use a pencil to unlock his CPU multiplier or not. The biggest inherent benefit here is that a CPU can be overclocked without forcing the PCI or AGP bus out of spec.

The AK33 does allow FSB adjustments - but with SocketA Athlons and Durons only allowing 10 MHz of FSB manipulation that brings us up to only 880 on this CPU. That is a CPU performance improvement but doing so meant lowering the memory performance. At that point, with the memory at 103 MHz and as CAS2, there was a noticable drop in performance when it came to memory intensive applications. So it became a toss up to keep running with less memory performance on a day to day basis. I chose to just leave the CPU at its stock speed and get that memory going instead. Obviously with some very good memory you can run at the higher memory speed with all the optimizations available and with the CPU overclocked by 10%.


If I had to lay criticism down on this board it would come down in two areas: the external COM port and the lack of multiplier adjustments to overclock the CPU. We covered the multiplier issue earlier in this page so I won't rehash that, but having an external COM port block off one of the PCI slots is not a very good idea. Granted, with on-board sound there is less need for so many peripheral cards but I know quite a few people who would max out those 5 PCI slots and still need the external COM port. The most obvious solution I can come up with is to take the COM port off the PCI slot adapter and simply mount it outside the case although that certainly won't look too good.

The AK33 is one nice motherboard. Except for the fluke with the Sandra 2001 Pro CPU benchmark this motherboard/Duron 800 combination excelled past the Azza/Duron 800 combo in every benchmark. Without exception it gave some very good results. Of special note was just how stable it has been since it has been in service in my stable of computers. I think that is an inherent benefit of using the KT133 chipset but it sure is nice not to have to reboot the machines several times per day. If you plan to build a SocketA system that won't require multiplier adjustments for overclocking I think that this may be the board for you.

Victor Oshiro November 27, 2000


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