Iwill XP333 - Rev 2.1

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A little quirky, but very good feature list and OK when you find the “sweet spot”. – Joe

SUMMARY: Different from the rev 2.0 board, but not yet ready for Prime Time?

Iwill released the third version of the XP333 – rev 2.1. This is a little different from the 2.0 version (I noticed a different capacitor placement) and the BIOS for the 2.1 is not meant for the 2.0. I have been using this board for a while to test out its various features.

Before I get into benchmarks, I want to comment on this board’s chameleon-like character and the reason for the question mark in the SUMMARY.

When I first started to exercise this board at Asynch RAM settings, it was flaky. I had artifacts on screen and it would routinely freeze in Quake and 3DMark 2001, even at 133 MHz. I went on to some other things for a few days and returned. Now it runs everything OK. I can’t explain it – it’s almost as if it “matured” while sitting unused; a puzzle.

Running the XP333 at various RAM settings was “interesting”.

One thing I found with was that changing RAM settings, or sometimes just rebooting from Windows, was an exercise in patience. From my notes:

  • Set to ASYNCH 33/166, SPD/SPD, OCZ DDR333
  • Benchmarks OK; reboot
  • No boot, hit multiple restarts, resets to FSB 100
  • BIOS change SPD to Fast, 133/166, multiplier 11
  • No boot, no restart, Pull plug, reboot
  • Resets to 100 FSB, SPD/SPD, all AUTO
  • BIOS change 133/166, multiplier 11
  • reboot OK, change to FAST
  • No boot, hit multiple resets, resets to FSB 100 etc.
  • BIOS change DRAM CAS 2/2
  • Boots OK, run benchmarks
  • Shutdown to reset, no boot, multiple resets to defaults
  • BIOS change SPD to Ultra
  • No boot, no resets, catatonic – board does not power up
  • Wait 5-10 minutes w/o power plug, reboots

I think this has as much to do with “second tier” chipsets than just Iwill – I’ve had some of the same behavior with Shuttle’s AK31.

I did learn one thing from this – if the XP333 does not boot, hitting multiple resets will reset the BIOS to FSB 100, all auto. If you hit reset once, you MAY get a reboot at the old settings. Any RAM setting beyond FAST did not work – the board went catatonic and took 5-10 minutes to recover.

Hence the question mark: I can’t tell you unequivocally that what you’ll get will be the Jekyl Iwill or the Hyde Iwill, or that Jekyl will turn into Hyde. I can only tell you that I saw two sides of the same board, and you might also.

Asynchronous RAM Performance

Iwill just released a BIOS (1/18/2002) which allows asynchronous RAM speeds, so I tested it:

XP @ 1467 MHz, 11 x 133, CAS 2/2

Benchmark

FSB, RAM @ 133

FSB 133, RAM 166

% Diff

SiSandra CPU

4034/2021

4037/2023

NA

SiSandra MM

8003/9244

8010/9230

NA

SiSandra Memory

1862/1722

1719/1570

-7.7/-8.8%

Quake

173.2/167.1

154.2/150.5

-11.0/-10.0%

3D Mark 2001

4489

4201

-6.4%

OCZ DDR333, SiSandra 2002.

Now, let me get this straight: So, running at ASYNCH reduces performance? Am I missing something here? Iwill recognizes this and freely admits that the ASYNCH BIOS has some bugs, which they are working to correct; However, unless there’s a significant performance improvement over SYNCH RAM settings, seems like it’s more hoopla than anything else.

Now this is not to say that the XP333 can’t run at high FSBs – it sure can. Here’s one example:

XP, 9 x 175 vs 11 x 133, RAM in SYNCH, CAS 2/2

Benchmark

9 x 175

11 x 133

% Diff

SiSandra CPU

4346/2178

4034/2021

7.7/7.8%

SiSandra MM

8622/9939

8003/9244

7.7/7.5%

SiSandra Memory

2265/2089

1862/1722

21.6/21.3 %

Quake

196.4/187.8

173.2/167.1

13.4/12.4%

3D Mark 2001

4746

4489

5.7%

NOTE: You can only run ASYNCH at 133/166; OCZ DDR333, SiSandra 2002.

I tried to do a “head-to-head” comparison – 11 x 133 and 9 x 163. What I found was that running the Iwill from 160 to 165 was not stable – either once in Windows I could not open anything, or it would freeze in Quake. Running “odd” settings was an adventure.

I earlier did a series of benchmarks with a T-Bird and the earlier 12/13 BIOS:

Synchronous RAM Performance

First I compared the Iwill against the Shuttle AK31; each board was populated with 256MB of Crucial DDR266, T-Bird 1400, Leadtek GeForce 2 Pro 64 MB and WD hard drives. Each used the same power supply (350 watts).

T-Bird @ 9.5 x 150

Benchmark

Iwill XP 333 2.1

Shuttle AK31

% Diff

SiSandra CPU

3936/1957

3940/1959

NA/NA%

SiSandra MM

7807/9674

7815/9683

NA/NA%

SiSandra Memory

1662/1610

2081/2005

-20/-20 %

Quake

141.7/139.6

179.8/176.7

-21/-21 %

3D Mark 2001

4068

4668

-13 %

Crucial DDR266, SiSandra 2002; Best stable RAM settings: Shuttle 2522, Iwill Normal, 2.5/3.

The Crucial DDR 2.5 will not go much above 160, so to push the XP333, I used some OCZ “Performance” DDR333. The OCZ seems to do well with the Iwill but absolutely does not like the Shuttle (or vice versa) – I could not get it to work with the Shuttle at 9 x 150, let alone higher than that. However, the XP333 really liked this stuff, as shown below:

Iwill XP333 2.1 – T-Bird 1400

Benchmark

8.5 x 166

8.5 x 175

8.5 x 180

SiSandra CPU

3885/1932

4104/2041

4221/2099

SiSandra MM

7705/9549

8142/10089

8374/10378

SiSandra Memory

1850/1773

1955/1871

2003/1921

Quake

149.1/143.9

156.8/151.5

160.8/156.2

3D Mark 2001

4223

4328

4380

OCZ DDR333, SiSandra 2002; Best stable RAM settings: SPD/SPD; PCI AUTO.

Running at 180 was really on the edge – I saw snow on the screen while running 3DMark 2001, so I can’t tell you that this was rock stable by any means. However, it was fun to see a board running at 180.

PCI Divisors

I tested different PCI speed settings with the 2.0 version (HERE). The net effect was to reduce performance if PCIs were set to keep them in spec at high FSBs.

I ran these tests after I updated my UXD Diagnostic card – see PCI Divisor Tests HERE.

CONCLUSIONS

My criteria is pretty simple on testing any product: How it works out of the box. Any product that has to be modified in some manner to work well is good to know, but for most users, irrelevant. When I buy anything, I expect it to work as advertised.

Sample of one testing is always an iffy proposition – what I found and the problems I had may not be representative of what others find. However, what I experienced is what I’m reporting to you.

First, I think the XP333 is hampered by the ALI chipset – it’s simply not competitive with others, and all the tweaking in the world is not going to get around it.

Second, having a lot of RAM and FSB settings and not being able to use all of them is not a positive. This may change as DDR333 and XP333 BIOSs mature, but right now it’s an event waiting to happen.

Third, I am hard pressed to see an advantage to running RAM asynchronously. I may be wrong, but unless Iwill pulls a rabbit out of the hat on this one, I don’t see where this is a plus.

Fourth, depending on which board shows up for work, you may love it or hate it. With the right RAM and settings which may be particular to your board, the XP333 may be the best you’ve had – and it may not. I must say that increasingly, this comment applies to about every board we’ve had and extensively used at Overclockers.com

Iwill has given us some great products and some not so great. I would consider the XP333 a motherboard with a lot of great features, performance that is competitive, but not top rank, and very stable when you find its “sweet spot”.

Now I know some of you will email me and say “But this website said….” I can’t vouch for any other site – I just tell you what I found and that’s it.

Email Joe

SUMMARY: Different from the rev 2.0 board, but not yet ready for Prime Time?

Iwill released the third version of the XP333 – rev 2.1. This is a little different from the 2.0 version (I noticed a different capacitor placement) and the BIOS for the 2.1 is not meant for the 2.0. I have been using this board for a while to test out its various features.

Before I get into benchmarks, I want to comment on this board’s chameleon-like character and the reason for the question mark in the SUMMARY.

When I first started to exercise this board at Asynch RAM settings, it was flaky. I had artifacts on screen and it would routinely freeze in Quake and 3DMark 2001, even at 133 MHz. I went on to some other things for a few days and returned. Now it runs everything OK. I can’t explain it – it’s almost as if it “matured” while sitting unused; a puzzle.

Running the XP333 at various RAM settings was “interesting”.

One thing I found with was that changing RAM settings, or sometimes just rebooting from Windows, was an exercise in patience. From my notes:

  • Set to ASYNCH 33/166, SPD/SPD, OCZ DDR333
  • Benchmarks OK; reboot
  • No boot, hit multiple restarts, resets to FSB 100
  • BIOS change SPD to Fast, 133/166, multiplier 11
  • No boot, no restart, Pull plug, reboot
  • Resets to 100 FSB, SPD/SPD, all AUTO
  • BIOS change 133/166, multiplier 11
  • reboot OK, change to FAST
  • No boot, hit multiple resets, resets to FSB 100 etc.
  • BIOS change DRAM CAS 2/2
  • Boots OK, run benchmarks
  • Shutdown to reset, no boot, multiple resets to defaults
  • BIOS change SPD to Ultra
  • No boot, no resets, catatonic – board does not power up
  • Wait 5-10 minutes w/o power plug, reboots

I think this has as much to do with “second tier” chipsets than just Iwill – I’ve had some of the same behavior with Shuttle’s AK31.

I did learn one thing from this – if the XP333 does not boot, hitting multiple resets will reset the BIOS to FSB 100, all auto. If you hit reset once, you MAY get a reboot at the old settings. Any RAM setting beyond FAST did not work – the board went catatonic and took 5-10 minutes to recover.

Hence the question mark: I can’t tell you unequivocally that what you’ll get will be the Jekyl Iwill or the Hyde Iwill, or that Jekyl will turn into Hyde. I can only tell you that I saw two sides of the same board, and you might also.

Asynchronous RAM Performance

Iwill just released a BIOS (1/18/2002) which allows asynchronous RAM speeds, so I tested it:

XP @ 1467 MHz, 11 x 133, CAS 2/2

Benchmark

FSB, RAM @ 133

FSB 133, RAM 166

% Diff

SiSandra CPU

4034/2021

4037/2023

NA

SiSandra MM

8003/9244

8010/9230

NA

SiSandra Memory

1862/1722

1719/1570

-7.7/-8.8%

Quake

173.2/167.1

154.2/150.5

-11.0/-10.0%

3D Mark 2001

4489

4201

-6.4%

OCZ DDR333, SiSandra 2002.

Now, let me get this straight: So, running at ASYNCH reduces performance? Am I missing something here? Iwill recognizes this and freely admits that the ASYNCH BIOS has some bugs, which they are working to correct; However, unless there’s a significant performance improvement over SYNCH RAM settings, seems like it’s more hoopla than anything else.

Now this is not to say that the XP333 can’t run at high FSBs – it sure can. Here’s one example:

XP, 9 x 175 vs 11 x 133, RAM in SYNCH, CAS 2/2

Benchmark

9 x 175

11 x 133

% Diff

SiSandra CPU

4346/2178

4034/2021

7.7/7.8%

SiSandra MM

8622/9939

8003/9244

7.7/7.5%

SiSandra Memory

2265/2089

1862/1722

21.6/21.3 %

Quake

196.4/187.8

173.2/167.1

13.4/12.4%

3D Mark 2001

4746

4489

5.7%

NOTE: You can only run ASYNCH at 133/166; OCZ DDR333, SiSandra 2002.

I tried to do a “head-to-head” comparison – 11 x 133 and 9 x 163. What I found was that running the Iwill from 160 to 165 was not stable – either once in Windows I could not open anything, or it would freeze in Quake. Running “odd” settings was an adventure.

I earlier did a series of benchmarks with a T-Bird and the earlier 12/13 BIOS:

Synchronous RAM Performance

First I compared the Iwill against the Shuttle AK31; each board was populated with 256MB of Crucial DDR266, T-Bird 1400, Leadtek GeForce 2 Pro 64 MB and WD hard drives. Each used the same power supply (350 watts).

T-Bird @ 9.5 x 150

Benchmark

Iwill XP 333 2.1

Shuttle AK31

% Diff

SiSandra CPU

3936/1957

3940/1959

NA/NA%

SiSandra MM

7807/9674

7815/9683

NA/NA%

SiSandra Memory

1662/1610

2081/2005

-20/-20 %

Quake

141.7/139.6

179.8/176.7

-21/-21 %

3D Mark 2001

4068

4668

-13 %

Crucial DDR266, SiSandra 2002; Best stable RAM settings: Shuttle 2522, Iwill Normal, 2.5/3.

The Crucial DDR 2.5 will not go much above 160, so to push the XP333, I used some OCZ “Performance” DDR333. The OCZ seems to do well with the Iwill but absolutely does not like the Shuttle (or vice versa) – I could not get it to work with the Shuttle at 9 x 150, let alone higher than that. However, the XP333 really liked this stuff, as shown below:

Iwill XP333 2.1 – T-Bird 1400

Benchmark

8.5 x 166

8.5 x 175

8.5 x 180

SiSandra CPU

3885/1932

4104/2041

4221/2099

SiSandra MM

7705/9549

8142/10089

8374/10378

SiSandra Memory

1850/1773

1955/1871

2003/1921

Quake

149.1/143.9

156.8/151.5

160.8/156.2

3D Mark 2001

4223

4328

4380

OCZ DDR333, SiSandra 2002; Best stable RAM settings: SPD/SPD; PCI AUTO.

Running at 180 was really on the edge – I saw snow on the screen while running 3DMark 2001, so I can’t tell you that this was rock stable by any means. However, it was fun to see a board running at 180.

PCI Divisors

I tested different PCI speed settings with the 2.0 version (HERE). The net effect was to reduce performance if PCIs were set to keep them in spec at high FSBs.

I ran these tests after I updated my UXD Diagnostic card – see PCI Divisor Tests HERE.