Price Comparison/Testing Issues
Are Athlon motherboards still expensive?
The Athlon motherboard situation hasn't changed much since we originally reviewed the Athlon 700 late last year. While lower cost 4-layer motherboards based on the AMD Irongate chipset are beginning to become readily available, Athlon motherboards are still on average a little more expensive than most BX motherboards.
Newer versions of the Irongate chipset offer a small performance boost to system performance via the recently enabled "Super Bypass" feature. With it, memory latencies between the CPU and system memory have been reduced.
However, the solution most AMD supporters are waiting for is the KX133 chipset from VIA.
Offering full support for AGP4X video cards, 133MHz front side bus operation, up to 2GB system RAM, and the ATA-66 IDE protocol, the KX133 supports all the main features the Athlon will need to compete against Coppermine systems. Motherboards based on this chipset should be available sometime next month, with volume shipments from several motherboard manufacturer's beginning in March.
How much does it cost?
When researching CPU pricing, a quick scan of Pricewatch
is extremely valuable. Listing prices on a variety of CPU's from several vendors, Pricewatch is usually the first to get the scoop on the latest CPU prices. In our search, only two vendors list the Athlon and neither currently has it in stock. At a price of $900, the Athlon 800 certainly isn't cheap. At least it's available; we couldn't find pricing information for the Pentium III 800 on Pricewatch or any of the major online vendors we visit.
This has become an interesting trend in the CPU market lately. While AMD has always announced products before adequate supply existed this is a new practice for Intel. In the past systems with the latest Intel processors were usually immediately available for ordering from your vendor or OEM of choice, since the Coppermine release late last year this hasn't been the case. In fact, finding adequate supplies of Coppermine 733's is still tough.
In our tests we encountered no compatibility issues with the Athlon 800. Earlier this year some gamers with GeForce 256 cards were experiencing problems with their Athlon systems but with NVIDIA's 3.62 Detonator drivers and the Athlons AGP miniport drivers installed we encountered no problems.
As a reminder, AMD recommends the use of a 250W power supply. We've received many horror stories from readers who aren't able to enjoy the full potential of their system because of such power issues.