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Athlon DDR Article Index

1. Introduction

2. Iwill KA266-R Specs

3. Parts Shopping

4. DDR Athlon Building Requirements

5. Computer Building Steps

6. Install DDR RAM and Accessory Connectors then Power-on Test

7. Install Drives and Peripherals

8. Motherboard and Peripherals Evaluation

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Building a 1.2 GHz DDR Athlon with the Iwill KA266-R

Motherboard and Peripherals Evaluation

Iwill KA266-R - This was Revision C of this motherboard, which includes an Award BIOS and ALi® MAGiK 1 Chipset.
Good Points. My first impression of this board was, "How could any computer enthusiast not like it with its big DDR heatsink sitting on top of the chipset?"

However, after using this board for my daily computing chores, I soon realized it was not just a case of another pretty face, and that this was one of the most stable motherboards that I ever owned.
The Award BIOS seems very well matched to the board and no matter what BIOS settings were used, it didn't crash.

Needs Improvement. I can't say I liked the onboard audio very much. It was a pain to load its drivers from the DOS-like CD menus and it seems under-powered compared to a Sound Blaster board.
It certainly is good enough to use if you want to save some cash, however most audio enthusiasts will eventually want to disable it and add a PCI sound card.
Overall I found documentation of the onboard audio and other utilities somewhat sparse. There was a separate manual on using the board's RAID controller, however I have not as yet experimented with the RAID features.

Overall Evaluation. (9.5 out of 10) This board purrs along like a kitten. While I could penalize it more for its onboard audio, I didn't, as I look at onboard audio as an extra.
Iwill would have a perfect motherboard package if they spent a little more time documenting installation and the included utilities.
If you are looking for a system to rival the speed of a Pentium 4 1.5 GHz system, than you should look no further than this board.

SisSoft Sandra CPU Speed Test
  AMD Athlon 1.2 GHz (266 MHz Bus) Intel Pentium 4 1.5 GHz Percent Faster
Dhrystone ALU (alphanumeric processing speed) 3305 MIPS 2807 MIPS Athlon
18 % faster
Whetstone FPU (floating point math with P4 SSE2 instructions enabled) 1631 MFLOPS 1825 MFLOPS Pentium 4
12% faster

Evaluation of Other Peripherals.

Kel Groups translucent mid-tower case. This is a good case for a mid-tower layout. I liked its rail-less design. However, it gets crowded rather quickly when you add a 4 inch CPU heatsink/fan, RAM, and video card. If you have the room, you might opt for a full tower case.

Western Digital ATA 100, 40 GB, 7200 RPM hard drive. This drive has been performing well and improved read and write speeds are definitely noticeable. The drive kit, software, and documentation were very polished and easy to use.
Like most ATA 100 drives this drive does get warm, so don't skimp on your case cooling.

Elsa Gladiac GeForce 2 GTS 32 MB DDR - I have been very pleased with this board and would recommend it as a good performer in the mid price range video boards.

Hint: Keep an eye on the heat. The CPU, hard drive, video card and other peripherals make monitoring heat and keeping it down to an acceptable level a priority. The Athlon 1.2 GHz CPU was typically running in the high 90s to low hundreds (Fahrenheit). The overall system temperature was in the mid 90s.
While the BIOS does provide heat alarms, the lowest overheat alarm temperature was 140 F. To me that's way too hot, and as a precaution I usually use the Iwill heat monitor utility.
While there are many features on this motherboard that will allow overclocking, don't even think of overclocking without some additional cooling.

Good Luck building your GHz class DDR Athlon. If you have questions or comments about this article, feel free to post them to the InfoHQ Message Board.

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