IWill enhances the KK266.–Joe
SUMMARY: Iwill’s worthy upgrade to the high-performing KK266.
Iwill tweaked the popular KK266 and now calls it the KK266+. The question is, “What’s plus about it?” Iwill sent me a KK266+ to find out.
Physically, the board looks almost identical to the KK266 – some components have been moved a bit, but basically it looks the same except for the ATX power plug:
Now it is by the sound plugs (upper middle of the left hand side) and as such, snakes by the CPU. Iwill says they relocated it to make the traces shorter. The only thing I don’t like is that the release clip is cramped by the sound socket – since I change mobos all the time in testing, this is an inconvenience.
Iwill reworked the power circuit as part of this change. As a result, I noticed that actual voltages are about 0.1 volt higher than the BIOS setting:
This is Motherboard Monitor with Vcore set at 1.85 in BIOS. I don’t know if it’s an unintended result, this particular board or power supply, but it consistently reads about 0.1 higher. Please email me if you find the same thing.
UPDATE: Readers emailed me to confirm that their Iwills show the same hihger readings – mine hits 1.98 volts.
One upgrade is the on-board sound – now it is 5 channel compared to 4 and fully digital capable. For those of you who are not real sound buffs, this upgrade will do you fine, save you some money and a PCI slot. If you’re really into sound, NO on-board sound will do.
Another new feature of the KK266+ is the active cooler on the Northbridge chip:
One of the problems is that Iwill does not use thermal grease on it – all too common among motherboard manufacturers. I removed it and replaced it with a Lasagna cooler anyway (the Iwill is OK, but not Lasagna class). If you get this board without an active cooler, Iwill will sell you one for $6 (email Iwill); if you want to buy one for your KK266, they’ll sell it to you also.
At first, I thought Iwill’s BIOS has some bugs in it; after some checking, it turns out that this is an AMD issue. I found the following:
- I could not boot at 14 x 100, even though the CPU will easily go higher;
- With a Palomino 1200, 14 x 100 boots at 504 MHz, 13 x 100 boots at 1250 MHz;
- A Palomino 1200 at Default settings boots at 1100 MHz with FSB set to 100, and 1400 at 133 FSB;
In the first situation, I confirmed with my Ultra X diagnostic card that BIOS fails to initialize at this setting – total freeze. This condition is present an ALL motherboards. These are not show stoppers, as other settings are workarounds; AMD is fixing these issues.
I’ve been using the KK266+ for heatsink tests for the last week or so, so the board looks OK running CPUs at 100 watts full tilt for hours on end. I would, however, make sure that there is good airflow around the voltage regulators – they do get hot.
I ran the KK266+ at 8.5 x 169 FSB for 24 hours using the UXD burn-in program; this exercises EVERY function on the board – CMOS, PCI slots, serial and parallel ports, low RAM, extended RAM etc. I ran this with 256 MB Crucial CAS2 and a Leadtek GeForce2 Pro without a hiccup.
I then varied FSBs and memory settings to find the highest, stable FSB with the least aggressive memory settings and the stable FSB with the most aggressive memory settings. The most/least BIOS settings were Fastest/Normal, CAS 2/3, 4 Way Interleave/SPD.
The most aggressive settings were stable at 9.5 x 152 (1444 MHz) and 8.5 x 165 (1403 MHz) with the least aggressive settings. I think I could have gone to 169 MHz, but I could not complete 3DMark and Quake benches at that speed; I think the Leadtek GeForce2 Pro did not like being so far out of spec.
9.5 x 152
8.5 x 165
|SI Sandra 2000 CPU|
|SI Sandra 2000 MultiMedia|
|SI Sandra 2000 Memory|
|SI Sandra 2001 CPU|
|SI Sandra 2001 MultiMedia|
|SI Sandra 2001 Memory|
|3D Mark 2000|
|3D Mark 2001|
The basic message here is that you’re better off going for the most stable FSBs with the most aggressive memory settings. The KK266+ does a little better than the KK266 (See this RAM Test) at the highest FSB, but basically about the same. What follows is a composite screen shot for Si Sandra at 152 FSB:
Many of you have seen reviews comparing AMD vs PIV, so these results should not be a surprise.
Iwill’s KK266+ is a worthy upgrade to one of the best performing Socket A SDRAM boards available. The 0.1v extra Vcore, if found in all boards, is a nice bonus – it got me to a stable 1500 MHz (Prime 95), which is about 30 MHz better than what I can do with the KK266.
If you’re thinking about building an AMD system and want SDRAM rather than DDR, this is a great way to go.