Fast P4 without the cost?
We cover P4 quite a bit here at HEXUS. The thing is, more often than not the motherboards are Intel-based. Canterwood and Springdale offer excellent performance and a good base for full-featured boards, but there should be more to the P4 world than those chipsets. We've given VIA's PT8xx reference boards the once over recently, but have we seen production designs using that chipset from any vendors, Tier-1 or otherwise? No; we've seen none at HEXUS whatsoever.
So you'd be quite rightly convinced that Intel-based boards are all that should be on your shopping list, should P4 be your chosen CPU of choice. But as we show you every now and again with reviews of reference boards, there's more to this particular side of the fence. SiS, along with VIA, dilligently come up with chipset designs for P4 that seek to match anything that Intel can come up with. Recently, their 655 range of P4 chipsets have sought to offer performance that's within a hair's breadth of Canterwood, along with a southbridge in SiS964 that can do all that ICH5 can, for a lot less money.
SiS's problem is the same as VIA's; more often than not they can't get big Tier-1 board vendors to produce designs based on their chipsets and market them well. Whether Intel's money talks loudest or not, that's the case. So while a few manufacturers will pick up stuff like SiS655 and produce a few models based on it, they're definitely low volume sellers or limited to some small-scale design wins in OEM boxes. So what they really need is someone like ASUS to pick up their product and run with it. There's nothing better than a well featured, high performance board from a Tier-1 board maker, that's actively pushed at the enthusiast, to revive sales and interest in all your wares.
So when ASUS offered me a look at P4S800D-E Deluxe, a board based around SiS655TX, that costs far less than the equivalently featured Canterwood or Springdale product, I couldn't resist. The old "saving money doesn't mean you have to cut corners" mantra sounded like it would ring true with P4S800D-E, so I decided to find out.
655TX talk first, for your education and mine.