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

By: Dave Altavilla
December 22, 2003

All year we've been waiting for a chipset manufacturer to get into the Pentium 4 chipset arena with a Dual Channel DDR capable offering that finally gave Intel something to sweat over.  We've seen offerings from VIA and SiS this year but the P4X400 and SiS648, while they were decent low cost solutions, were nothing to write home about performance wise, when compared to an i865 Springdale or i875 Canterwood based motherboard.  Although these chipsets weren't targeted at taking on Springdale or Canterwood directly, since they were "value" oriented single channel solutions, value is a relative term, when the benchmark numbers come up short and you're competing against "Chipzilla" on the platform they built around their processor.  However, Intel provides license rights to their architecture for very specific reasons and it was only a matter of time before one of the other major players stepped up with some real heat.

Recently we showed you what VIA has in store with their PT880 chipset.  There have been a number of Motherboard OEMs that have reportedly signed up to deliver solutions based on this chipset.  Certainly the performance of the PT880 speaks for itself, placing it within a few percentage points of Canterwood boards and right on top of Springdale performance.  However, although we've seen the reference board VIA sent our way, we have yet to see a retail model arrive to our lab.  SiS, on the other hand has been busy priming the channel with their new 655TX chipset, which is actually a speed bin refinement of the already released SiS 655FX chipset.  As a result we have a full retail package we can show you today, in the form of the Asus P4S800D-E, a SiS 655TX motherboard decked out with all the trimmings and ready to take on Canterwood.

Early indications were that this new SiS chipset had enough memory bandwidth and low latency to give the i865 and i875 a run for their money.  We'll try to show you what the SiS 655TX and Asus P4S800D-E are made of, here in this showcase and let you be the judge for yourself.

Features of the Asus P4S800D-E
Features and Functionality

CPU - Socket 478 for Intel Pentium 4/Celeron
- Intel Hyper-Threading Technology ready
- New power design supports Intel next generation Prescott CPU
SIS 964
FSB 800 / 533 / 400 MHz
4 x 184-pin DIMM Sockets support max. 4GB unbuffered non-ECC
PC3200/2700/2100/1600 DDR SDRAM memory
Dual-channel memory architecture
Expansion Slots
1 x AGP 8X
5 x PCI
1 x ASUS Wi-Fi slot for optional wireless LAN upgrade
2 x UltraDMA 133/100
2 x Serial ATA with RAID 0, 1 function
ADI AD1980 SoundMAX 6-channel CODEC
S/PDIF out interface
Integrated 10/100/1000 Mbps LAN controller + Marvell PHY
Special Features
ASUS CrashFree BIOS 2
ASUS Instant Music Lite
ASUS MyLogo2
ASUS Multi-language BIOS
Overclock Features
ASUS JumperFree
ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)CPU, Memory, and AGP voltage
Adjustable SFS (Stepless Frequency Selection) from 100MHz up to 300MHz at 1MHz increment
Adjustable FSB/DDR ratio, fixed AGP/PCI frequencies

Back Panel
I/O Ports 1x Parallel
1x Serial
1 x PS/2 Keyboard
1 x PS/2 Mouse
1 x Audio I/O
4 x USB 2.0
1 x RJ-45 Port
1 x S/PDIF output
Internal I/O Connectors - CPU/Power/Chassis FAN connectors
- 20-pin ATX power connector
- Chassis Intrusion
- GAME/MIDI connector
- CD/AUX audio in
- Front panel audio connector
- 2 x USB 2.0 connector supports additional 4 USB 2.0 ports
- 2 x SATA ports
- COM2 connector
BIOS Feature
4Mb Flash ROM, ASUS JumperFree, AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.3, ASUS EZ Flash, ASUS MyLogo2, ASUS CrashFree BIOS 2, ASUS C.P.R., ASUS Multi-language BIOS, ASUS Q-Fan, ASUS Instant Music Lite
Industry Standard PCI 2.2, USB 2.0
Manageability WfM2.0, DMI2.0, WOR, WOL, Chassis Intrusion
Support CD - Drivers
- ASUS PC Probe
- Trend Micro PC-cillin 2002 anti-virus software (OEM version)
- ASUS LiveUpdate Utility
Accessories User's manual
UltraDMA cable
FDD cableI/O shield
2-port USB2.0 cable
2 x Serial ATA cable
Form Factor ATX Form Factor 12"x 9.6"(30.5cm x 24.5cm)

The heart of the P4S800D-E is the SiS 655TX Northbridge and its companion 964 Southbridge.  SiS has just about every checklist item available in this chipset, with Dual Channel DDR400/333 support, version 3.5 compliant AGP8X, a native Serial ATA controller and up to 8 channels of USB 2.0.  Also, although this diagram shows only 10/100 Ethernet, the Asus P4S800D-E we tested came equipped with a Gigabit Ethernet controller connected to the on board MII interface the SiS 964 Southbridge provides.  Drop in an AC97 CODEC for 6 channel audio and you've got everything any competitive P4 chipset could bring to bear.

Finally, SiS is touting the 655TX as having their "Advanced Hyperstreaming Engine" on board.  Although this is pretty much marketing speak, this technology can be thought of as the chipset's data Flow Control management and arbitration capabilities, that reduce latency and provide more efficient use of available bandwidth.  You can be sure that competitive chipsets have similar technology but SiS claims to have beefed up or made "advancements" in the queuing and data handling blocks of the 655TX architecture.

The Bundle:

Click to Enlarge

The Asus P4S800D-E came well equipped with extra gear in the bundle, for setting up nearly every useful feature on this board.  Asus includes two IO brackets with extra USB and Firewire jacks as well as a game port.  They also include both SATA and PATA IDE cables, a two connector SATA power cable, an IO back-plate, user manual and driver CD-ROM.  The user manual was a bit sparse on detail in our opinion however.  Novice users don't get the typical BIOS walk-through in this thin book, for example, as we've seen so many times before in previous Asus manuals.


The Board, BIOS and Overclocking