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I noticed from the HTPC FAQ that VIA chipsets were at one time not considered HTPC-friendly. It looks like the posts with that opinion were from almost a year ago. Has anything changed since then regarding the performance of VIA chipsets?


I am a total newbie when it comes to building a HTPC, so I admit to knowing exactly squat, but the features on the VIA P4PB 400 motherboard sure look tempting. The ExtremeTech review ( http://www.extremetech.com/article2/...,428021,00.asp ) made it sound pretty decent, so I am wondering if it would be worth trying. Opinions?
 

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Well Via drivers have gotten a bunch better over the insuing year. Overall Via chipsets now are pretty decent though I wouldn't use a creative labs sound card with them (EVER) regardless of drivers. I don't know if it's drivers or the chipset or whatever but I and many of my friends have never had luck with that combo.


I'm going with a nicely affordable MSI KT7266 Ultra 2-U motherboard, it's got 6 USB 2 ports, DDR and the very nice Realtek 650 audio chipset on board. I have it's cheaper brother in this system I'm using right now and it's been a pretty decent board, certainly better than the last 2 or 3 Via chipset'ed boards I've owned.


One chipset I really have liked was the SIS chipsets though it seems they are more focused on developing their excellent P4 boards than their AMD boards.


I'd rather go P4 myself but I'm thinking of what gear will flow down to my HTPC when I upgrade my main system to the new P4 chips coming out here over the next month or so.
 

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seplant-


I am a recent convert to the "Don't use Via" camp. This is because I had a problem with a combination of Nvidia WDM drivers, a HiPix HDTV board, a FireWire/IEEE1394 external DVD drive, and Windows XP Service Pack 1. This was on a 'cheap' ECS motherboard with a Sis chipset. Well, I decided to buy a 'good, top of the line' motherboard (Asus A7V8X) hoping to fix the problem. Well, that board does have a Via chipset (KT400), and the problems just got worse and worse! I did numerous blank-drive reinstalls of WinXP, eliminating one after another of the suspect devices mentioned above, and memory chips, and BIOS settings, and a new power supply, and still it would lock up or go to a blue screen sooner or later. I decided to try another recomended Asus motherboard (the A7N8X Deluxe), and now the machine is so stable it is amazing. No more Via for me... :)


By the way, these were all AMD Athlon XP setups. I have not bought an Intel since a P3/700 a couple of years ago for a former dedicated HTPC machine. This current system is a multi-use HTPC and general computer with multiple keyboards/mice/displays.
 

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The notorious problems with Via chipsets and compatibility problems were from a PCI latency problem that was worst with the KT133. Supposedly, these issues were fixed with the KT400, but people have reported problems with that chipset that sound an awful lot like the incompatibilities of old.


More importantly, there's nothing compelling about a KT400 mobo anyway, since it has never been the performance leader for the segment (nForce2 is). The KT400A chipset just came out, and supposedly can keep up with nForce, but why take the risk? nForce 2 has been around for a long time now (stable, feature complete drivers), performs better than KT400, and has a richer feature set. FYI, nForce2 rev 2 chipsets are about to come out, which will support faster FSB speeds.


BTW, my anti-Via sentiment is the product of much painful personal experience. Like you, when I was a newbie I read a bunch of reviews that all rated a particular board that happened to be Via-based as the top of the heap. What I didn't know at the time was that all of the reviews you read (particularly at enthusiast sites) just rate boards based on features and raw performance, and none of them do any meaningful compatibility or long-term stability testing. Like a fool, I bought another Via board after my first one crapped out, and continued to have problems. Now its my mission to save other potential Via victims.
 

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Same here, I've been burned on several VIA chipsets and vowed never to buy another VIA mobo. While VIA may have improved since the inital KT133, KT133 "a" days, I'm not the type to gamble with that and my HTPC.


With the various sound cards, HDTV cards, video cards drivers and such, the last thing I want is some odd compatibility with the VIA chipset, which would induce an additional level of unstability in my HTPC. I want my HTPC to boot up fast just run as stable as possible.


I'm sure there are number of successfuly HTPCs built around VIA, more power to them. We have many choices in chipsets from SiS, nForce, Intel i845g, i845pe, i875, i865, and AMD. VIA doesn't provide me anything over the competition, except saving $20-30 in price.
 

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seplant, you would have to make your own decision. There are many people in this forum that now own a via HTPC and are very happy with it ( I myself own 1 with via and 1 with intel, both no problems). However, make sure you get the latest 4in1 drivers (I think they are called something else now). The most important thing is not the chipset, but the board manufacturer. There is a big difference in this respect even when the same chipset is used and they both have the same specs.
 
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