The first question we asked ourselves was, what 133MHz chipsets are out there that would be perfect for this little experiment?  Out of the currently available chipsets, we have the 810E and 820, both from Intel, and the two VIA solutions, the Apollo Pro 133 and Apollo Pro 133A. 

The i810E is far from a reasonable solution as its integrated i752 AGP graphics accelerator is far from the best for gaming or professional application performance; if you’re not into gaming/professional apps then the i810E may be a valid solution but then again that leaves business applications as the only programs you run, in which case a cheaper Celeron would be a better path (definitely from a price perspective) to go down. 

The high cost associated with RDRAM will keep the i820 chipset out of the price range addressed by this comparison, but if your budget allows you to purchase 128MB of RDRAM at $900+ then you can afford to pick up a true Pentium III 733.  The i820 + SDRAM solution is, however, a viable option.  The performance drop provided by the i820 + SDRAM combination as a result of the Memory Translator Hub required for SDRAM support on the i820 isn’t worth the added cost, and you’re better off sticking with an older BX setup.  Regardless, this is a solution we’ll be taking a look at in the future, just not within the scope of this article.

The situation with VIA’s two chipsets is interesting.  Released virtually back to back, the Apollo Pro 133 and Apollo Pro 133A are practically identical chipsets, except that the 133A supports AGP 4X and the 133 offers only AGP 2X support.  It should be noted that the 694X North Bridge of the 133A is a 510-pin solution whereas the 693A North Bridge of the 133 is a 492-pin chip. 

Unfortunately, this keeps the 694X from being a pin-compatible replacement to the 693A thus making the 133A an undesirable solution to manufacturers that already have a design created and in production with the 492-pin 693A North Bridge of the Apollo Pro 133.  This is why companies like ABIT are releasing boards that are still based on the older Apollo Pro 133 chipset and thus don’t support AGP 4X which is a feature of the 694X North Bridge of its 133A successor. 

Then again, from our tests, the advantage of AGP 4X over AGP 2X is far from noticeable and shouldn’t be a major concern for most users.  This makes both the 133 and 133A viable options and ideal platforms for use with the FC-PGA CPUs.  Since the two perform identically with the exception of the AGP 4X advantage of the 133A, we chose to go with the 133A for our overclocking tests.

Index Apollo Pro 133A Motherboards

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