Via chipsets in Win2K: Messed up indeed

— 12:34 AM on November 1, 2000

Well, well, well. Looks like all of my bellyaching about problems with Via chipsets, AGP, and Windows 2000 has finally been vindicated. And here I thought I was overreacting. This MS tech note caught the attention of a number of folks the other day, and I got all warm and tingly inside:

When you run a program that uses 3D AGP functions on a Windows 2000-based computer that contains the VIA AGP chip set, the computer may stop responding (hang).

This problem is caused by incomplete support for the VIA chip set in the Windows 2000 AGP drivers. The fix for this problem adds support for the VIA AGP chip set.

Now imagine that. Of course, my magical stabiility formula (recounted here) was serving me pretty well, but I had to reinstall Windows 2000 not long ago. Without the updated viaagp.sys file from Tom's Hardware, which I thought I shouldn't be needing any longer, I started seeing a few lock-ups in 3D apps.

Naturally, I was eager to try the new MS patch. I installed it last night along with this fix for Athlon AGP problems in Win2K, and I have been seeing excellent results. I was able to turn up all the AGP features, including 4X mode and Fast Writes, and the lock-ups appear to have been banished. Amazing how well these things work when your OS includes proper support for your hardware. I can't say for sure that all is well just yet, but it's a definite improvement.

If you have a Via-based motherboard and Win2K, grab this patch. If you have a Via-based motherboard and an Athlon/Duron in Win2K, grab 'em both.

By the way, on a semi-related note, in our AMD 760 chipset w/DDR review, we mentioned that AMD hadn't sent us any Windows 2000 AGP drivers for the 760, so we didn't test Win2K performance. That's not to say that AMD doesn't have an AGP driver for Win2K ready to roll, as I found out today when an AMD driver development person offered to send one along. So rest assured AMD is all over this one.

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