We’ve said some nice things about the IWill KK266. A couple of our readers have not.
I’ve taken a look around the IWill BBS and a couple other places, and while I’m not seeing too many problems, they are problems we’ve seen with other KT133/KT133A boards.
The longer we look at this, the more we believe these difficulties are due to inherent weaknesses of the Via KT chipset. What is rather baffling is that some of these problems are rather user-independent; it’s not like the user didn’t do something, or did it improperly.
The two problems that seem to happening occasionally are:
Problems with getting to 133Mhz FSB/changing multipliers First, there is a jumper on the motherboard that must be changed to go from 100Mhz FSB to 133Mhz FSB. This is described on page 6 of the IWill manual.
If you plan on running at 133Mhz or more; you should first get the multiplier you eventually want to use established in the BIOS, and you should do that at 100Mhz.
For instance, if you plan on running a chip at a 7.5X multiplier, initially set the machine up at 7.5X100. If you have to install OSs and the like, install at that speed; you shouldn’t been installing OSs while overclocking, anyway. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it screws up, take my word for it.
At some point before you try 133Mhz, turn the machine completely off. Pull the plug out and keep it out for 15-30 seconds. Then plug it back in, and make sure that multiplier setting is OK.
Joe noticed in his testing that the IWill does tend to “remember” the last multiplier setting, and tries to boot at that multiplier the next go-round. If you have a 1Ghz TBird; it’s not likely to boot at 10X150Mhz.
We’ve seen this trait at least occasionally in all the KT boards we’ve tried. Some do it more often than others.
None of these boards seem to take multiplier changes in stride every time; and these boards will refuse to boot at the drop of a hat, so don’t get too disturbed if that happens to you.
I have the A7V133 installed, and I’ve found that it often won’t boot after a crash, but will if I pull the power cord out of the computer for fifteen seconds or so (more on its crashing in a moment). Also remember where the “clear CMOS” jumper is, and use it.
Sporadic freezes They don’t happen too often, maybe once every few days, but they aren’t pleasant to behold.
Unfortunately, they also aren’t unique to IWill. Got them with the K7TPro2A; also have gotten them with the A7V133.
I also suspect I know why they’re happening, and what you can do to avoid them.
The KT chipsets act rather oddly with Microsoft’s ACPI. They like to clump IRQs together, and when I say clump, I mean clump. Don’t be surprised to see most of your commonly used devices sharing one IRQ, even when there are several free ones available, and even if you’ve shuttled your cards around the PCI slots.
I don’t care what Microsoft says. If you have four or five devices that are being used all the time sharing one IRQ, you are asking for trouble. I’ll give them credit for being able to make it work almost all the time, but “almost all” isn’t “all.”
There’s a good discussion about this towards the bottom of the page here. (Although this FAQ is meant for the Abit KT7/KT7A, I would very strongly recommend going through the whole FAQ before installing any KT133/KT133A board.
It tells you how not to install ACPI in the first place, and how to get rid of it if you did. (You should also tell your BIOS about it, too.)
I tried the uninstallation under Win2K, and after a bunch of reboots and a reapplication of the Via IDE drivers later, it did work.
(Tip: If Windows can’t find something that’s been previously installed, and asks you where the file is, try typing in the name of the file using “Search” and point it to the folder where it is located. It seems stupid because Windows remembers where the file came from, but not where it went.)
Lack of Patience
While there’s been exceptions, I did notice a lack of patience among those running into initial problems, as in “it didn’t work, I’m sending it back.” You take that approach, you’re going to be sending a lot of KT boards back. They’re all quirky.
I’m not saying what I suggest will take care of these problems 100% of the time. What is will do is fix the problems that can be easily fixed, and eliminate a couple reasons for your problems.
You have to be methodical about this. You do your homework beforehand, so you know what the likely issues are. If you run into something, you think of all the possible reasons it can be, then you start eliminating them, one by one. You see if others have run into this. Research first, do later.
Sure, it will take some extra time upfront to go through that FAQ and follow what it suggests you do. Take it. If you do, it’s probably more likely to work than if you hadn’t, and you’ll eliminate a lot of possible problems ahead of time. It’s like the old Fram commercial, “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.”
Most people don’t want to or just can’t do this. They think it’s a waste of time. Then they run into a problem, and then they flounder and panic and start trying things at random. Now THAT’s a waste of time.
They contract a disease I call “Happy Fingers.” It’s the mouse version of “chickens running around without their heads.” Victims start swinging the cursor all around the screen while they’re trying to figure out what to do. Then they start doing things without any rhyme or reason I can detect.
Now I’m not the most mechanically adept guy in the world, and I’ve gotten my share of ribbing for it from those more mechanically gifted.
But when these problems arise that can’t be fixed with a screwdriver, these guys often get lost. Then it’s time to methodically troubleshoot and research. Then it’s Stroligo time. 🙂
One skill is not better than the other. What’s better is being able to do both.