Final Words

After giving the Gigabyte 8S655FX Ultra a thorough run-through, it’s clear to us that this motherboard is all about features and not so much about performance. It’s impossible to ignore the 8S655FX Ultra’s pile of onboard components: high-quality AC’97 audio codec with jack sensing capability, GbE 10/100/1000 controller, dual BIOSes, IDE RAID with ATAPI support, native Serial ATA via the brand new SiS 964 South Bridge, IEEE 1394 FireWire 400, and of course dual DDR400 and 800MHz FSB support via a brand new SiS 655FX North Bridge. Based on these features, the Gigabyte 8S655FX Ultra is the most feature-filled Pentium 4 desktop motherboard currently available. Only Gigabyte’s very own 8KNXP is as comparable in sheer feature set.

Amazingly enough, when the 8S655FX Ultra becomes available in the middle of next month, it will retail for an unbelievably low price of $105! You would be hard pressed to find a motherboard that costs $175 with a comparable feature set to the Gigabyte 8S655FX Ultra selling at $105. Clearly, SiS is selling SiS 655FX chipsets cheap, very cheap. We hope this kind of pricing continues. Maybe Intel will finally realize that charging an arm and a leg for 875P chipsets may not be the best strategy considering its miniscule performance advantages.

Anyway, the advantages that Gigabyte brings to the table in terms of onboard features, unfortunately, aren’t translated to stock and overclocked performance. A paltry FSB of 239MHz was the highest reliable overclocked speed that we could achieve. Stock performance was just a bit faster than a mere single channel 848P motherboard (the ASUS P4P800S-E), and of course, consistently behind 865PE and 875P motherboards in general. Looking at real world performance, however, the 8S655FX Ultra’s stock performance really wasn’t all that bad, especially knowing that its performance will inevitably improve with future BIOS updates and new SiS AGP drivers, whereas all 865PE and 875P motherboards have spent their potential performance improvements months ago with BIOS and chipset updates. Again, overclocking performance was where the SiS 655FX-based 8S655FX Ultra just couldn’t shine.

However, as we just mentioned, the Gigabyte 8S655FX Ultra is the most feature-packed Pentium 4 motherboard on the market next to the 875P-based Gigabyte 8KNXP, and has respectable stock performance to boot. If Gigabyte releases a faster BIOS with overclocking ability and higher Vcore and VDIMM options, the 8S655FX Ultra will, without a doubt, be the must-have motherboard of the year, especially considering it’s fire sale $105 price tag. Even in its current form, however, the Gigabyte 8S655FX Ultra is a great buy, and we see no reason not to opt for one if you are not a hardcore overclocking enthusiast.

High End Workstation Performance - SPECViewperf 7.0 (continued)
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  • aditm - Thursday, December 18, 2003 - link

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  • PrinceGaz - Monday, September 22, 2003 - link

    Error on page 7 (too high FSB speeds):

    In addition, we ran several other tasks: data compression, various DX8 and DX9 games, and apps, like Word and Excel. Moreover, Prime95 was running in the background. Finally, we ran our benchmark suite, which includes ZD Winstone suite, Unreal Tournament 2003, SPECViewperf 7.0, and Gun Metal Benchmark 2. While we were able to boot and run some tests at speeds as high as 287MHz FSB and at default voltage on the Gigabyte 8S655FX Ultra, 262MHz was the highest achievable overclock attainable without encountering any reliability issues.
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