With the possible exception of Abit at times, we’ve never come across a company that ‘listens’ to the consumer as much as Iwill (the enthusiast consumer, that is). As users who enjoys ultimate control, and plenty of flexibility with respect to system settings, if we had to pick a single board that best suited our desires, the XP333-R would be it.
The XP333-R screams “overclockers’ board” in every fathomable way, right down to the name itself. In fact, it’s difficult to know where to start; so we’re going to start with the hardware.
Fig 5. ALi's M1535D+ Southbridge provides native ATA-133 support.
As mentioned, the board sports ALi’s MAGiK1 chipset, which is designed to operate at 200 and 266 MHz double data rate Front Side Bus speeds. Through some enhancements made by ALi in the latest stepping of the core logic, and a superb board design by Iwill, the XP333-R chipset fully supports a 333 MHz DDR FSB. Not ‘may support’. Not ‘might work under some conditions’. Paired with appropriate memory and peripherals, the XP333-R will run at 333 MHz. We cannot stress the ‘appropriate memory’ part of that sentence enough. DDR memory has thus far proved to be much more finicky than was the case with SDR memory, and this situation is only exacerbated at higher bus speeds. If you don’t get memory that’s designed and specifically tested to run at 333 MHz, odds are you’re going to have trouble (and you may be tempted to blame the board; don’t, look to the memory first).
Fig 6. While the board is mostly jumperless, DDR memory voltage is controlled via a bank of two jumpers.
In terms of other overclocking hardware, the board is typical, for the most part. As mentioned, there’s plenty of room around the CPU socket. The board also features Iwill’s 3-phase power delivery system, which can provide sufficient amounts of smooth power to even a 1.6 GHz AthlonXP 1900. The board should easily be able to support future Palomino processors (too early to tell about Thoroughbred though). All of the standard voltages and temperatures can be monitored. Monitoring is supported via the M1535D+ Southbridge. CPU temperature is, unfortunately, taken from an in-socket thermistor, rather than the on-die diode present on Palomino CPUs.
Fig 7. Iwill equips the Northbridge with heavy-duty active cooling.
One final enhancement you’ll notice is the addition of a very aggressive active cooler on the M1647 Northbridge. This cooler initially made an appearance on the KK266Plus, and has proven to be the most capable chipset cooler we've seen offered by a motherboard manufacturer.