Here's where this board really shines. If you've heard us talk about the KK266, you'd know that it was, without question, one of the most overclockable Athlon boards we've ever used. Bus speeds in excess of 160 MHz were achievable. What was holding the board back? Rather simply, the KT133A Northbridge was running way too hot (temperatures in excess of 60C at times). We contacted Iwill, and suggested that adding active cooling to the Northbridge would allow it to hit FSB speeds of 166 MHz at least.
Fig 7. The new Northbridge cooler. Iwill has informed us that very shortly, boards are to begin shipping with this new cooler.
Iwill noted that they'd considered it, but had some concerns. Essentially, Iwill would not put a cheap $2 fan on the Northbridge for two reasons. Firstly, it's questionable whether or not a cheap fan like that actually does any better than a bigger heatsink (and we agree). Secondly, Iwill was concerned with cheaper fans breaking after a few months of use, at which point Iwill would feel obligated to RMA the board. More expensive, higher-quality fans could be used, but Iwill feared a high-quality fan would raise the cost of the board my almost $10, and that some users may not like that.
In the end, Iwill seems to have opted for the latter, as our KK266Plus came equipped with the most impressive Northbridge cooler we've seen to date (better than what you see on some graphics cards). Iwill has informed us that boards currently shipping do NOT have this new cooler, but upcoming ones likely will. If you're interested, it's probably a good idea to wait a couple weeks before buying, and attempt to verify that you're getting the right board. The board also includes adjustable FSB frequencies (66 to 200 MHz in 1 MHz steps), adjustable multipliers, and adjustable core voltages, all available through the BIOS. Rounding out the overclocking features are three fan headers, and voltage and temperature (CPU and System) monitoring support.
So, how far were we able to push the board? How does 170 MHz
(340 MHz DDR) sound? Equipped with PC166-rated SDRAM, and after removing all PCI cards, we were able to run with complete stability at 170 MHz. We must say, that's extremely impressive. Of course, if you're expecting results like that too, realize that at such high speeds, many other factors come into play, such as memory, PCI cards, and so on. In any event, the KK266Plus earned us an FSB that was a solid 10 MHz more than what the KK266 could do, and that's no small accomplishment.
We mentioned that Iwill has been concerned with the cost of the cooler raising the cost of the board significantly. As a result, we've just been informed that Iwill has settled on a plan as follows: The board will NOT ship with an active cooler (and thus its cost will remain low). However, those who want the active cooler can purchase it directly from Iwill at a cost of $6, including postage and handling (we would point out that that's a very fair price, most likely at or below cost for Iwill). Those who don't want it, won't be required to pay more for the boards. This seems like a reasonable solution to us. Interested parties can contact Iwill for more information on ordering the cooler at email@example.com