The Apollo Pro series chipsets
With the high market price for RDRAM RIMM's, Intel's 820 chipset has been slow to take off. This left gamers looking for a motherboard with full 133MHz front side bus support, and ATA-66 with one choice - VIA's Apollo Pro133 and Apollo Pro133A chipsets.
As the first chipset to officially support PC133 memory, the Apollo Pro133 offered all the right features and came with an incredibly low price, but there was one large setback: performance.
Try as we might, we just couldn't get good memory performance out of the platform and 3D graphics performance was just as inept. For this reason, we skipped the Apollo Pro133 review cycle hoping that the Apollo Pro133A chipset would offer greater performance than its predecessor.
Fortunately, our patience was rewarded when we tested MSI's MS-6309 motherboard. Offering good performance at a great price, the 6309 (and later the P3V4X) proved that VIA could offer a powerful chipset for the typical hardware enthusiast.
So where does that leave us today? With the recent introduction of Intel's 815 chipset, the Apollo Pro133A has a real competitor on its hands, at least on a feature-for-feature basis. With this in mind we decided to take a look at another Apollo Pro133A motherboard - the Transcend TS-AVE3.
Who is Transcend?
Based in Taiwan, Transcend specializes in motherboards and memory products. Established in 1988, Transcend just recently began a push to increase their awareness beyond the Asian market they've traditionally catered to.
So what's the driving objective in a Transcend motherboard? Quality. While companies like Abit and Soyo strive for performance and tweakability, Transcend is more in line with a company like ASUS, offering a combination of stability and quality as the driving features with tweaking options considered a second priority.
When Transcend originally contacted us about their TS-AVE3, the MSI 6309 was the only other Apollo Pro133A FC-PGA motherboard available on the market. Now practically every motherboard manufacturer has an FC-PGA product they're trying to sell. So how does the TS-AVE3 compare to our Editor's Choice MS-6309 motherboard? Read on to find out!