750 Motherboard battle!
Back when the Athlon was introduced last summer motherboard manufacturers were reluctant to provide much information on their Slot A (Athlon) products - if they produced a motherboard at all. In fact, both companies featured here today - MSI and ASUS - initially provided little or no official information on their own websites related to their Athlon motherboards.
It's believed motherboard manufacturers did this because they feared repercussions from Intel for manufacturing and marketing Athlon motherboards. While AMD and VIA have both increased their market share in recent years, motherboard manufacturers still make the majority of their revenue from their products based on Intel's chipsets.
With this thought in mind, motherboard companies wouldn't want to do something that may hurt their relationship with the chip giant. Since AMD's Athlon is a major rival to Intel's flagship Pentium III processor (and the high revenue it generates for Intel) producing and marketing an Athlon motherboard may annoy Intel enough to say, miss a shipment or two of BX chipsets to any motherboard manufacturer actively promoting an Athlon-related product.
These were probably the fears running through the minds of executives at ASUS and MSI last year, only FIC chose to actively promote their K7 motherboard (the SD11) when it was initially released.
A fresh start
With the dawn of a New Year however, things have changed. Most motherboard companies are actively promoting their K7 products. With this brings additional products based on AMD's initial chipset - the 750, not only have new companies entered the market such as Soyo, AOpen, and Tyan, but old mainstays ASUS and MSI offer multiple products based on the same AMD chipset.
This comes with welcome news to consumers; with additional products on the market prices have fallen favorably. If you recall Athlon motherboards initially sold for just under $200. Today finding an Athlon motherboard for under $150 is not uncommon.
Additional products on the market not only brings price competition, it also opens up competition in the form of features. After all, with Athlon motherboards based on the same chipset, (At least to date, with the exception of Epox most KX133 motherboards are still in the final phases of testing.) companies frequently look for other ways to innovate their products.
In the past, offering features favorable to the overclocking community has been one of the main methods motherboard makers have differentiated themselves. In the case of both motherboards presented here today the overclocking community was clearly on both companies minds.