- What the North Bridge and South Bridge Do
- Mobo Integration Madness
- What We Look for When Testing Motherboards
- How We Test Motherboards
- Careful Considerations for New Mobos
- Our Top Pentium 4 Chipsets: Intel's 875P and 865PE
- Also Solid: ATI's Radeon 9100 IGP
- Pentium 4 Chipset Pretenders
- Our P4 Mobo Recommendations
- The Back Story: Summer of Athlon XP
- Enter the 64-bit Chipset
- Why Hasn't Intel Integrated the Memory Controller?
- Looking to Overclock?
- Looking Ahead: Future Chipsets & Mobos
- VIA Makes Its Move
- Prepare for BTX
- New Sockets Forthcoming
The Back Story: Summer of Athlon XP
Prior to AMD's ground-breaking release of the Athlon 64 at the end of the summer in 2003, the Athlon XP was the cost-conscious CPU of choice. There were really only two companies making performance chipsets for this platform at the time: nVidia and VIA. While chipset manufacturer SiS also made Athlon chipsets, they were targeted at the budget market, and weren't as refined or feature-filled.
Back then, nVidia's nForce2 Ultra earned our highest recommendation in this category, with such features as built-in Dolby 5.1 audio, 10/100Mbps LAN, AGP 8x support, a dual-channel DDR400 memory controller for maximum memory bandwidth, and optional GeForce4 MX-level integrated graphics. VIA's KT400A offered DDR400 memory support, but only in single-channel configurations, and also lacked 400MHz FSB support. Unfortunately, VIA's reputation for stability problems, which the company would attempt to address toward the middle of 2004, made us slightly tentative.
Our top mobo picks for the Athlon XP platform were the Asus A7N8X Deluxe and the MSI K7N2 Delta-ILSR.
Of course, late in the summer of 2003, AMD rocked our world with 64-bit computing. Let's take a look at those chipsets and motherboards.