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SiS645 and SiS650 Based Motherboards Roundup

February 12, 2002



SiS645 A0-A1-A2 and SiS650

SiS has recently released the third version of their chipset for Pentium 4 supporting both SDR and DDR memory - SiS645. We already reviewed this product and two mainboards on it and compared with the competitors. Today we are going to examine 10 mainboards we have in our lab on the SiS645 (A0, A1 and A2 revisions) and SiS650. Let me introduce you the new chipset as well - SiS650.

The SiS650 is a classic chipset with integrated graphics: it is based on the SiS645 and the added graphics processor is based on the SiS315. This is a solution of the GeForce2 MX200 level with the Hardware TCL support, and it can't go on a par with the Pentium 4.

There were some problems with its graphics core and the Hardware TCL unit: 3DMark 2001 didn't find this unit and was able to start only in the Software T&L mode. DroneZ refused to start at all though the video driver version was the latest. And the video drivers just pour oil on the flames saying that the OEM ProductName is "6325".

As we found out later, the SiS650 uses the SiS315 core with the disabled (at the drivers' level?) T&L unit.

As a rule, integrated solutions use a part of the system memory for the video one, and here, in the BIOS, you can assign from 8 to 64 MBytes for the frame buffer.

Tests

Test system:

  • Intel Pentium 4 2.0 √Hz, Socket 478
  • MAinboards:
  • Memory:
    • 2 x 128 MBytes PC800 RDRAM RIMM, Samsung
    • 256 MBytes PC2700 DDR SDRAM DIMM Kingmax, CL 2.5
    • 256 MBytes PC166 SDR SDRAM DIMM Tonicom, CL 3

  • ASUS 8200 GeForce3
  • IBM IC35L040AVER07-0, 7200 rpm, 40 GBytes
  • CD-ROM ASUS 50x

Software:

  • Windows 2000 Professional SP2
  • DirectX 8.1
  • SIS AGP Driver 1.07
  • SIS 650 Video driver 2.05a.01
  • Intel chipset software installation utility 3.20.1008
  • Intel Application Accelerator 1.1.2
  • Intel Ultra ATA Storage driver 6.20
  • VIA 4-in-1 4.37
  • NVIDIA Detonator v22.50 (VSync=Off)
  • RazorLame 1.1.4 + Lame codec 3.89
  • WinZip 8.1
  • VirtualDub 1.4.7 + DivX codec 4.11
  • WinAce 2.11
  • eTestingLabs Business Winstone 2001
  • eTestingLabs Content Creation Winstone 2002
  • BAPCo & MadOnion SYSmark 2001 Office Productivity
  • BAPCo & MadOnion SYSmark 2001 Internet Content Creation
  • 3DStudio MAX 4.2
  • SPECviewperf 6.1.2
  • MadOnion 3DMark 2001
  • idSoftware Quake III Arena v1.30, demo four
  • Expendable Demo
  • DroneZmarK
Board AOpen AX45 ASUS P4S333 Chaintech 9SJD ECS P4S5A EPoX 4SDA+ Gigabyte 8SRX Jetway S446
Link AOpen AX45 ASUS P4S333 Chaintech 9SJD ECS P4S5A EPoX 4SDA+ Gigabyte 8SRX Jetway S446
Chipset SiS 645 (SiS 645 A1 + SiS 961) SiS 645 (SiS 645 A1 + SiS 961) SiS 645 (SiS 645 A1 + SiS 961) SiS 645 (SiS 645 A0 + SiS 961) SiS 645 (SiS 645 A1 + SiS 961) SiS 645 (SiS 645 A2 + SiS 961) SiS 645 (SiS 645 A1 + SiS 961)
Processor support Intel Pentium 4, Socket 478
Memory 3 DDR 3 DDR 3 DDR 2 DDR + 2 SDR 3 DDR 3 DDR 3 DDR
Expansion slots AGP/ 6 PCI/ CNR AGP/ 6 PCI/ ACR AGP/ 5 PCI AGP/ 5 PCI/ AMR AGP/ 6 PCI AGP/ 6 PCI/ CNR AGP/ 5 PCI/ CNR
I/O ports 1 FDD, 2 COM, 1 LPT, 2 PS/2 1 FDD, 2 COM (one on the rear panel), 1 LPT, 2 PS/2 1 FDD, 2 COM, 1 LPT, 2 PS/2 1 FDD, 2 COM, 1 LPT, 2 PS/2 1 FDD, 2 COM, 1 LPT, 2 PS/2 1 FDD, 2 COM, 1 LPT, 2 PS/2 1 FDD, 2 COM, 1 LPT, 2 PS/2
USB 2 USB + 2 connectors for 2 USB 2 USB + 2 connectors for 2 USB 2 USB + 2 connectors for 2 USB 2 USB + 1 connectors for 2 USB 2 USB + 2 connectors for 2 USB 2 USB + 1 connector for 2 USB 2 USB + 1 connector for 2 USB
Integrated IDE controller 2 channels ATA100 Bus Master IDE (with support up to 4 ATAPI devices)
Network controller - - - 10BaseT/ 100BaseTX - - -
External IDE controller - - - - - - -
Sound AC'97 Audio, codec Avance Logic ALC201A PCI Audio, C-Media CMI8738/ PCI-6ch-LX PCI Audio, C-Media CMI8738/ PCI-6ch-LX AC'97 Audio, codec Avance Logic ALC201A AC'97 Audio, codec Avance Logic ALC201A PCI Audio, Creative CT5880-DEQ AC'97 Audio, codec Avance Logic ALC201A
BIOS Award Modular BIOS v.6.00PG Award Medallion BIOS v.6.00 Award Modular BIOS v.6.00PG AMI BIOS v.1.21 Award Modular BIOS v.6.00PG Award Modular BIOS v.6.00PG Award Modular BIOS v.6.00PG
Form-factor, dimensions ATX, 30.5x24.5 cm ATX, 30.5x22 cm ATX, 30.5x23.5 cm ATX, 30.5x24.5 cm ATX, 30.5x24.5 cm ATX, 30.5x22.5 cm ATX, 30.5x24.5 cm

Board Jetway S446 MSI 645 Ultra MSI 6524 Soltek 85DRS2 ASUS P4T-E VIA P4XB-RA Soltek 85DR-C
Link Jetway S446 MSI 645 Ultra MSI 6524 Soltek 85DRS2 ASUS P4T-E VIA P4XB-RA Soltek 85DR-C
Chipset SiS 645 (SiS 645 A1 + SiS 961) SiS 645 (SiS 645 A1 + SiS 961) SiS 650 (SiS 650 A1 + SiS 961) SiS 645 (SiS 645 A2 + SiS 961) i850 (KC82850 + FW82801BA) P4X266A (P4X266A + VT8233) i845 (RG82845ES + FW82801BA)
Processor support Intel Pentium 4, Socket 478
Memory 3 DDR 3 DDR 2 SDR 3 DDR 4 RDRAM 3 DDR 2 DDR
Expansion slots AGP/ 5 PCI/ CNR AGP/ 5 PCI/ CNR AGP/ 3 PCI/ CNR AGP/ 6 PCI AGP Pro/ 5 PCI/ CNR AGP/ 5 PCI/ CNR AGP/ 6 PCI/ CNR
I/O ports 1 FDD, 2 COM, 1 LPT, 2 PS/2 1 FDD, 2 COM, 1 LPT, 2 PS/2 1 FDD, 2 COM (one on the rear panel), 1 LPT, 2 PS/2 1 FDD, 2 COM, 1 LPT, 2 PS/2 1 FDD, 2 COM, 1 LPT, 2 PS/2 1 FDD, 2 COM, 1 LPT, 2 PS/2 1 FDD, 2 COM, 1 LPT, 2 PS/2
USB 2 USB + 1 connector for 2 USB 2 USB + 2 connectors for 2 USB 2 USB + 2 connectors for 2 USB 2 USB + 1 connector for 2 USB 2 USB + 1 connector for 2 USB 2 USB + 2 connectors for 2 USB 2 USB + 1 connector for 2 USB
Integrated IDE controller 2 channels ATA100 Bus Master IDE (with support up to 4 ATAPI devices)
Network controller - - Realtek 8100L, 10BaseT/ 100BaseTX - - - -
External IDE controller - - - - - Promise PDC20265R -
Sound AC'97 Audio, codec Avance Logic ALC201A AC'97 Audio, codec Avance Logic ALC201A AC'97 Audio, codec Avance Logic ALC201A AC'97 Audio, codec Avance Logic ALC201A AC'97 Audio, codec Avance Logic ALC201A PCI Audio, C-Media CMI8738/ PCI-6ch-LX AC'97 Audio, codec Avance Logic ALC201A
BIOS Award Modular BIOS v.6.00PG AMI BIOS v.2.01a Award Modular BIOS v.6.00PG AMI BIOS v.2.01a Award Medallion BIOS v.6.00 Award Modular BIOS v.6.00PG Award Modular BIOS v.6.00PG
Form-factor, dimensions ATX, 30.5x24.5 cm ATX, 30.5x22 cm mATX, 24.5x23 cm ATX, 30.5x22.5 cm ATX, 30.5x24.5 cm ATX, 30.5x22.5 cm ATX, 30.5x21 cm

First of all, some comments on the tests. Our primary aim is to compare the SiS645 based mainboards, and the results of the competing models are left without any remarks.

A couple of words on the MSI 6524. It's quite strange to use integrated graphics of the SiS650 with a Pentium 4 installed. Nevertheless, it is interesting to look at the SiS315, that is why we tested the MSI 6524 twice: with the integrated video and with the GeForce3. But we are not going to compare directly the video chips that is why the test systems differ a little: the SiS315 had 32 MBytes of the main memory for the frame buffer, and the memory worked at 133 MHz. The system with the NVIDIA GF3 worked stably at 166 MHz, that is why we set this frequency.

It is not easy to find memory working reliably at 166 MHz. But you should remember for which processor it is meant, and if you prefer SDR memory to DDR then you should pay more to accelerate your top desktop processor. The difference between PC133 and PC166 will be seen from the test results of the MSI 6524 where the video accelerator doesn't affect the overall performance.

Having one system on the SDR, we tested the ECS P4S5A only with the DDR, and used the ASUS 8200 on the GeForce3 as a video card everywhere.

Test results

These results show that the applications are too fast and are much dependent on the disc subsystem performance; they do not load much either the processor or the memory. On the other hand, they show that some applications do not need a very high performance - even PC133 is enough not to fall behind the leaders. Look: the Soltek 85DRS2, which is rather fast board, takes the last position in the WinZip, but the gap is just several seconds and can be just considered as inaccuracy of measurements. The MSI 645 Ultra turns out to be a formal leader in the first two tests.

The operations are similar, but the difference in the tests is really great: -25% with the PC166 and -35% with the PC133. The Soltek 85DRS2 comes out a leader, but all the board differ by not more than 3%.

If we exclude Business Winstone, the scores of all the boards will be very close. The ASUS and the Gigabyte are running a bit ahead of the main group, the MSI 6524 + PC166 falls behind the boards using DDR approximately by 10%, the MSI 6524 + PC133 - by 15-20%.

The rendering speed in the 3DStudio MAX is almost constant; the ASUS comes out a formal leader, and the difference of all the boards doesn't exceed 3% again. Only when the integrated graphics is used the MSI 6524 lags behind by 15%.

The gap between the SiS315 and GeForce3 is really very great. Of course, it is also important which memory is used; for example, in the AWadvs-04 the MSI 6524 with GeForce3 (PC166) loses by 5% when the speed almost completely depends on a texturing speed of a video card. By the way, the boards form two camps in these test packet with the ASUS and the Soltek being leaders in each (however, the EPoX, the Gigabyte and the MSI 645 Ultra do not fall to far behind them).

In the 3DMark 2001 the difference of the results of the main group is even less than 2%; the results of the SiS315 are much lower than those of the competitors. The GeForce3 + PC166 falls behind as much as 25% (in DroneZ) though only in low resolutions where the result depends on processor and memory, and in the high ones (compare with 1024*768*32 in DroneZ) it is GeForce3 which carries the load. In low resolutions the performance is sufficient and in the high ones it is not worse than of the other models, i.e. it is sufficient as well. As you can see, a powerful video accelerator with a modern processor even coupled with the aging memory suit games. The integrated video of the SiS650 doesn't shine in 3DMark, Quake3 (falls to the minimal level of 30 fps even in 800*600*32), DroneZ (didn't started up at all). Only the good old Rage Expendable noticed that it was running not on the GF3 only in 1024*768*32. Among the DDR boards, the ASUS and the Gigabyte are faster by 1 fps than its competitors.

Conclusion

There is no an unquestioned leader in the today tests, but I'd like to mark out three boards: ASUS P4S333, Gigabyte 8SRX and Soltek 85DRS2 - they have better results and higher quality of the boards themselves. I think the new revision of the chipset allows for some performance gain as two of these boards are based on the "A2" revision. The other boards are just a little slower, that is why the choice must be based on your preferences and on functions you really need.

The integrated graphics processor of the SiS650 doesn't bring any benefit or suit the Pentium 4. However, if you don't need high-quality and fast 3D this solution is rational. And in this case you should assign less memory for the frame buffer.

Yet in November we mentioned that the new chipset from SiS supported SDR memory, and now, as DDR is getting more and more expensive, some people take seriously usage of the Pentium 4 with SDR. The today's test show which applications are suitable and which not. By the way, the memory doesn't affect games.

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