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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Motherboard and System Devices | System Chipset and Controllers | Popular Chipsets | Fifth Generation (Pentium Class) Intel Chipsets ]

Intel 430TX

With the 430HX chipset primarily the choice of those seeking high performance, Intel's announcement of a new chipset to be delivered to market in early 1997 had everyone hoping that the 430TX would be the "next step" forward, something to combine the benefits of the 430HX with new capabilities and position itself as the obvious winner for some time to come.

Instead, Intel delivered what seems to be much more a successor to the 430VX than the 430HX, which disappointed many people. It incorporates several new technologies, and improves performance over the VX chipset, but it leaves out several capabilities of the HX. The reason for this, in part, may be Intel's supposed desire to move high-end users from the Pentium family of processors to the Pentium Pro and Pentium II. Having no clear "do it all" chipset for the Pentium may be part of this strategy (it certainly makes sense to me from a business standpoint). One point in favor of this argument is Intel's decision not to support AGP with the 430TX, as had been originally anticipated.

Note: Some people like to call the 430TX "Triton IV" since it is the fourth in the "430" family of chipsets. I am quite sure that Intel has never called it that, so I do not.

The end result of all this is that instead of the 430TX being an obvious best of the Pentium chipsets, an "HX vs. TX" choice was set up. This is much more of a tradeoff than the HX vs. VX choice was (basically, the HX was clearly superior to the VX unless cost or SDRAM support were major concerns.) Here's how the 430TX chipset compares against its most recent predecessors.

The TX chipset's primary advantages over the VX:

  • Improved memory timing for initial read from SDRAM; 5-1-1-1 instead of 7-1-1-1.
  • Increased maximum memory, from 128 MB to 256 (but cacheable memory remains at only 64 MB).
  • Support for more SIMM and DIMM slots on the motherboard than the VX provides.
  • Support for Ultra DMA transfers, allowing faster transfer rates on high-end drives.
  • Independent device timing for IDE/ATA devices.
  • Lower power consumption.
  • Better performance overall.

The TX chipset's disadvantages compared to the VX:

  • None really, except that it will be more expensive because it is newer and better.

So, the TX vs. VX question is pretty much a "no brainer": the TX is better, and the VX is cheaper, and that's the decision, performance vs. cost.

Against the HX we have a bit more of a contest. Here are the TX's main advantages over the HX chipset:

  • Support for SDRAM.
  • Superior memory timing when using SDRAM, with no trade-off for the initial read: 5-1-1-1 vs. 5-2-2-2 (for HX's EDO) as opposed to the VX's 7-1-1-1.
  • Support for DMA mode 3 transfers (a.k.a. DMA-33, Ultra-ATA, or ATA-33), allowing faster transfer rates on high-end drives.
  • Lower power consumption.

The TX's disadvantages compared to the HX are:

  • No parity or ECC memory support.
  • No dual processor support.
  • Support for only 256 MB of system memory, instead of 512 MB.
  • Support for only 64 MB of cached system memory, still!
  • Fewer PCI I/O buffers (but more than the VX).
  • Fewer motherboard SIMM/DIMM slots (but again, more than the VX).

This chipset obviously compares much better against the HX than the VX does, although it still has some glaring weaknesses, particularly the low DRAM cacheability, and no error correction support. (I'm in the minority but I do not use unprotected memory and that's that.)

For most of the first year since its introduction, the TX chipset was fairly successful, but really did not replace the HX chipset. The market was pretty much split between the two. Now, the TX is by far the most common new Intel chipset for the Pentium platform. Why? Simple: Intel discontinued the HX chipset. The TX is the last Intel chipset for fifth generation motherboards. The future appears to belong to alternative chipset makers such as VIA Technologies.

Warning: Beware the so-called "TX Pro" chipset, which is not the 430TX but a cheaper imitator trying to confuse the buying public by making it sound like it is superior to the 430TX. It is in fact not made by Intel but by another chipset vendor that doesn't seem to have enough faith in its product to use its own name.

Next: Comparison of Recent Intel Fifth-Generation Chipsets

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