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Asus P4S8X - getting acquainted
Product : Asus P4S8X motherboard
Manufacturer : Asustek
Price : 120 (including VAT)

Our second look at a motherboard made by Asus in as many weeks, we continue on the Pentium 4 platform looking at their latest motherboard, the P4S8X. Based on the SIS 648 chipset this board has some very interesting features which buck the trend of simple, look-a-like motherboards we have become used to in recent months.

There isn't much that we can add to what has become Asus' brand image. Commonly talked about amongst hardwarephiles and boasting sales of over $2 billion (USD) last year, it's not hard to see this company is a giant. With sales of that magnitude it brings about huge investment in R&D, which allows the company to promote features in their products only a company of that size can. With product lines ranging from CD-ROM drives to laptop machines Asustek serves almost every purpose any computer user could want.


This board, based on the SIS 648 chipset is given the P4S8X badge (P4 referring to the platform, S referring possibly to the initial of the chipset manufacturer and 8X to the AGP compliance). It comes in a fairly normal box with good explanation of it's main features on the back of the box.

  

You are presented with a large spread of goodies once you get inside.


This includes 2 manuals (one being a helpful "start up guide"), quick reference guide and case sticker which outlines all the main components of the motherboard. This sticker is invaluable if you have a number of computers all with different motherboards. A number of cables, are supplied with three backplane adapters in use. Another possible backplane connector is the Asus S/PDIF module but that doesn't come part of this package.


The main features of the P4S8X motherboard are :
  • Support for Socket 478 processors (400 & 533 FSB support)
  • SIS 648 Northbridge chipset
  • SIS 963 Southbridge chipset
  • 3 184-pin DDR DIMM sockets with support for PC2700, PC2100 and PC1600
  • AGP 3.0 compliance (AGP 8X)
  • Ultra DMA 133 support
  • ATA RAID 0/1
  • 6 USB 2.0 ports
  • Serial ATA support (2 ports)
  • IEEE 1394 (Firewire) support (2 ports)
  • 6 channel audio (C-Media chip)
  • Realtek 10/100mbit Ethernet controller
  • S/PDIF in/out interface
  • This is certainly the most feature packed Pentium 4 motherboard we've come across. Not happy with that, Asus move on adding value-added features, which come in the form of :
  • EZ Plug
  • EZ Flash
  • POST Reporter
  • MyLogo2
  • Q-Fan
  • Multi-language BIOs
  • We have previously discussed these value-added features (since they are common to a number of Asus motherboards) in our review of the P4T533. However we'll include the extract in this article.

    This motherboard uses DDR RAM which is a relative newcomer to this platform compared to it's RDRAM counterpart. Intel, until recently only put their name behind RAMBUS, however it's easy to see why they have changed this view (it is somewhat harder to see why they didn't make this change earlier). RAMBUS is still far more expensive than it's DDR counterpart, and more readily available. Of course, DDR (Double Data Rate) isn't able to match RDRAM for performance, however the price/performance ratio is much more favourable. Until recently, users would have to purchase RDRAM in pairs, which fuelled a number of problems, the main being cost followed closely by upgradeability (or rather the lack of it). DDR is the RAM type of choice for people on AMD platforms.

    Of course, it's a shame that the SIS 648 doesn't support PC3200 (DDR400), however many people are finding that early batches of PC3200 doesn't produce anything like what they would want from it. Indeed one of our colleagues at a leading chipset manufacturer told us that PC3200 was, at the moment "rubbish".

    Flicking through many of the main features, it is great to see such a feature packed motherboard on the market. Of course one with a cynical view can say that motherboard manufacturers are required to ship these value-packed boards in order to make any headway in the market. Whichever view you take, there is no doubting Asus have produced a board that packed full of the latest and greatest.
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