Gigabyte's GA-8S648FX Motherboard

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Intel Springdale Showdown - Page 4

Gigabyte's GA-8S648FX Motherboard
Bridging the gap with the SiS 648FX

"Burned" in by Robert Maloney
August 13th, 2003

3DMark 2001 and 3DMark03
Synthetic Gaming

We wanted to get an idea of how the SiS648 would perform in gaming situations, and started with Futuremark's 3DMark 2001 SE and 3DMark03.  Both of these benchmarks render a variety of scenes, using DirectX 8 and 9 vertex and pixel shaders.  We ran both benchmarks at exactly the same settings; 1024x768 resolution and 32-bit color, with all other settings left at their defaults. 

The memory bandwidth came into play with the 3DMark 2001 scores.   The GA-8S648FX came in last, with 11895 points, a full 10% behind the leader, the Abit IS7-G.  3DMark03 was a bit more forgiving, since the scores have less to do with system performance, and are more closely tied to the video card being used.  There was a slight drop off in scores from board to board, in the same order as the previous test.  The difference this time was only about 2%.
Comanche 4 Demo and Quake 3 Arena
Let's get a look at some frame rates

OK, enough mumbo-jumbo about synthetic numbers, lets see some real games in action.  We took two games that have built-in testing modes, which will show us the average frame rate during gameplay.  Comanche 4 is a DirectX benchmark that is highly CPU and Memory bandwidth dependent.  For testing purposes, we ran the Demo version at 800x600x32, but disabled the audio.  Quake 3 Arena is everyone's favorite OpenGL benchmark, used in reviews seemingly since the dawn of time.  Although a bit dated, it still can be used to give reliable comparisons of system performance.  Since the frame rates can get quite high, we maxed out the graphical settings, and ran "demo four" at a resolution of 1024x768 with 32-bit color and textures.

The Comanche 4 and Quake 3 benchmarks gobble up the memory bandwidth that the Springdale boards provide, and help them run right past the SiS648FX.   The Comanche 4 scores might not seem as big of a deal when you only see a difference of 6 frames from top to bottom.  These six frames actually equate to a difference in performance of almost 13%.  This difference can be seen better in Quake 3 Arena where the Abit IS7-G outpaces the Gigabyte GA-8S648FX by almost 40 frames per second.

First impressions aside, it was hard for us to find too much to root for with Gigabyte's SiS648FX-based motherboard.  Missing features, mediocre performance, and the lack of any overclocking ability really put it at a disadvantage, especially for power-hungry PC enthusiasts.  On the other hand, if one was looking for a stable, but cheap solution that doesn't require finding twin-sets of DDR RAM, then the GA-8S648FX may be a perfect match.  At a price point as low as $87, it's not a bad choice when looking to upgrade to 800MHz front side bus Pentium 4 CPUs.  Our general feeling is that it may be better to wait for a 655FX based solution, which will combine the 800MHz FSB with Dual DDR.  As for the Gigabyte GA-8S648FX, we are going to give it a 6 on the HotHardware Heat Meter.



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