The Asus P4S800D-E  Motherboard
Pentium 4 Powered Performance With The SiS 655TX Chipset

By: Dave Altavilla
December 22, 2003

The Asus P4S800D-E Motherboard
Feature packed with a good layout

The Board:

The P4S800D-E is fairly straight forward in terms of layout.  The power connectors as well as ATA connectors are located neatly along the backside edge of the board.  These are ideal locations for such connections, since cable routing inside most all standard ATX chases will be neat, clean and away from the CPU and chipset heatsinks.

     

     

This board also sports 4 Serial ATA channels, both with RAID 0 and RAID 1 capabilities, courtesy of the SiS964 Southbridge and an accompanying SiS180 SATA controller chip.  VIA's VT6307 chip provides IEEE1394 Firewire support.  There is also a somewhat foreign looking black pin header socket, next to the last PCI slot, as you can see in the bottom left end shot above.  This is the Asus Wi-Fi socket, which will host an Asus 802.11b wireless NIC card, if that option is bundled in with the board.  Our package did not come with this included.  The Northbridge heatsink, while not an active fan cooled component, is a fairly stout large piece that will most likely do the job well.  Although it didn't get too hot during our testing, we were tempted to bolt on a fan.  Regardless, with only 3 power fan headers on board, one of which will be consumed but your CPU fansink, case fan options may be limited somewhat, if you go that route.

The board does come equipped with a retention clip mechanism on the AGP slot, which we think should be a prerequisite for all new motherboard designs but too often this is not the case.  Across the backplate are 4 USB connections, a 10/100/1000 RJ45 Ethernet jack, serial port, PS2 mouse and keyboard ports, along with a Parallel Printer port and SPDIF output jack.   Finally, Windbond's health monitoring chip is on board as well and the socketed PMC chip visible here, is the Flash ROM for the BIOS, which is driven by AMI.

The Bios:

To be perfectly honest, we cringed a bit when we fired up the BIOS, since AMI is not our favorite in this area.  We've felt for some time now that it just doesn't compare to the ever popular Phoenix Award BIOS found on so many motherboards today.  AMI's BIOS runs at a refresh rate on the video output, that can sometimes play havoc with certain flat panel monitors and in general isn't as intuitive or user friendly, in our opinion, versus the Phoenix BIOS.  Regardless, we were pleasantly surprised with what Asus brought to the table within the various BIOS menu options here.

     

     

Users have the ability to set CPU FSB speeds up to 300MHz, in 1MHz increments.  Additionally, there are various memory speed divisor settings, although somewhat masked by their 200MHz through 533MHz labeling.  These settings are based on the assumption that the front side bus is set to 200MHz, which of course won't be the case for anyone looking to overclock.  As such, you're left guessing a bit at what divisor or multiple each setting is representative of at a given bus speed and the manual doesn't go into detail here.  On the other hand, there are a plethora of settings, with divisor ratios that are completely unavailable on Intel based motherboards.  This speaks well for the potential of the SiS 655TX chipset, in areas of overclocking, where memory speeds can often times be the limiting factor.

The current BIOS revision gives you the option of tweaking your DDR, AGP and CPU voltages.  However, the CPU core voltage only has one setting of enabling a .1V increase or disabling it.  This is a shame because, as you'll note in our Overclocking section, the board was pretty stable at a modest 1.65V while overclocked.  We feel there was even more performance to be had however, if we were given the tools to do so with higher voltages in the BIOS. 

We've also included a shot of the SiS RAID BIOS here.  The menu screens in this BIOS are fairly standard issue and give you all the configurability you would want, to setup optimum RAID array configurations, with various block sizes for striping etc.  We weren't able to spend much time with RAID testing on this board however, since we were hampered somewhat by a SATA drive compatibility issue that we'll cover in more detail shortly.

Overclocking the Asus P4S800D-E Motherboard
Very respectable but not earth-shattering

Overclocking capabilities of the P4S800D-E were fairly impressive, considering the board's BIOS doesn't have much headroom in CPU core voltage tweaks.  With the + .1V offset enabled, we were able to overclock our 3GHz CPU to its known top end speed here in our labs, with standard air cooling.

CPU-Z Motherboard and Overclocking Info
 

Our highest stable speed on the P4S800D-E, with this particular P4 processor, was 3.52GHz with a 235MHz FSB.  The stock speed of this chip is 3GHz with a 15X multiplier.  Again, this is about as high as we've seen this particular CPU run here in the lab with standard air cooling.  This particular CPU is not all that impressive, since we've seen more than one 2.4C P4 hit this speed range.  We used an early engineering release Intel CPU, so this is not surprising.  However again, the P4S800D-E was able to take this P4 to its limit for all intents and purposes.  We just wish there were more CPU voltage settings available, since we felt the board certainly had more to give.

On a related note, the SiS 655TX is obviously very mature when it comes to memory performance and compatibility, which is always a concern with a new chipset coming to market.  The P4S800D-E gave us no problems with various types of memory installed, from the likes of Corsair, Kingston and OCZ.  In fact, our Kingston HyperX PC3500 modules hit an all time high of 470MHz CAS2, with this motherboard at 2.8V, which is impressive for sure.

SiSoftware's SANDRA and FutureMark PCMark 2004