Asus P4S800D-E Motherboard
Feature packed with a good layout
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
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.
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
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
Overclocking the Asus P4S800D-E Motherboard
Very respectable but not earth-shattering
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.
Motherboard and Overclocking Info
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