The DVD266-R is quite a solid offering. The board offers quite a reasonable array of features, ranging from four DDR slots to on-board IDE RAID to on-board 4.1-channel hardware audio. Itís definitely a pleasure to work with, although the layout, particularly around the CPU sockets, leaves something to be desired.
Fig 7. Iwill's DVD266-R motherboard, featuring VIA's Apollo Pro266 DDR chipset.
At around $210 USD for the DVD266, and $230 USD for the RAID-equipped DVD266-R, and given the still somewhat high cost of DDR memory, the board is not a cheap solution. But by the same token, the equivalent offering from Intel, i840, is even more expensive, and certainly, $230 for a motherboard is not unreasonable for a server or workstation.
Which brings us to the crux of the article: is the DVD266-R suitable for a mission-critical light server or workstation? Yes and no. Once the board is set up correctly, itís solid as a rock. We experienced only a single crash during our tests, and it seemed more of a fluke than anything else. However, our biggest problem with the board remains the VIA chipset. Simply put, if you start messing around with drivers, installing/removing hardware, etc., the system will lose stability, and lose it fast. Much faster than has been our experience with Intel chipsets, or more accurately, Intel drivers. The fact remains that VIAís drivers still seem to be less willing to cope with change/abuse than Intelís, and thatís something to be aware of. Itís not Iwillís problem, theyíve done an excellent job with the DVD266-R, however it affects the board nonetheless.
If youíre going to buy it, set it up, and leave it, the DVD266-R is an incredible board, and a perfect companion for dual Pentium III processors in a light server or workstation. Itís incredibly stable, and performs better and costs less than anything Intel has been able to offer for a dual Pentium III platform. Both Iwill and VIA have done an excellent job with the hardware. Further, Iwillís quality of construction and technical support have always impressed us. A job very well done by Iwill.
Just be aware that if you start adding/removing hardware or drivers regularly, youíre going to run into VIAís drivers. Whether or not thatís acceptable is up to you.