Silicon Integrated Systems Corp. presented users a nice gift for the last Christmas, their SiS755 chipset for the Athlon 64 platform. The gift was truly generous as our tests demonstrated (see our article called SiS755: New Chipset for Athlon 64 for details). SiS755 doesn’t yield to VIA K8T800 and NVIDIA nForce3 150 in terms of features and outperforms them in a big number of applications. SiS755 has had only one conspicuous drawback: until recently you couldn’t find a mainboard on it in retail stores. Now this deficiency is amended: next week Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS) starts selling its SiS755-based mainboard, the ECS 755-A2.
This mainboard is not the first product to feature SiS755, actually. Elitegroup has already tried to develop a mainboard on SiS755. The outcome, ECS 755-A mainboard, was a kind of a failure: it was unstable with DDR400 SDRAM and the faulty design hindered the performance. Elitegroup engineers didn’t give up, though, but made some improvements and released 755-A2 version, free from those problems. This is a mainboard that can become really popular as it has a trump card in the hands, SiS755 chipset.
Elitegroup mainboards on SiS chipsets for AMD processors have always been popular as they were positioned as value solutions and cost accordingly. At the same time, they used to have quite acceptable characteristics. ECS 755-A2 shouldn’t make an exception. As far as we know, it is going to come to the market with $80-90 on the price tag. In other words, it will be among the best value mainboards for Socket 754 platform. We are going to take a really close look at this mainboard to find out if its claims for becoming a sales hit have any ground.
If this mainboard is all right, it may stimulate the invasion of AMD64-supporting systems into the mass market. For example, a kit including a junior Athlon 64 3000+ and this mainboard would cost less than $300. Not bad for such a high-performance system, don’t you think? Well, we will dedicate our conclusion to such matters, let’s now deal with the mainboard itself.
Socket 754 AMD Athlon 64
SiS755 + SiS964
FSB frequencies, MHz
200-232 (with 1MHz increment)
2 DDR DIMM slots for single-channel DDR400/DDR333/DDR266 SDRAM
Expansion slots (PCI/ACR/CNR)
USB 2.0 ports
8 (4 – on the rear panel)
2 ATA-100/133 channels
2 Serial ATA-150 channels (via SiS964 with RAID support)
IDE RAID support
RAID 0, 1 via SiS964
Six-channel AC97 codec - Realtek ALC655
10/100 Mbps Ethernet controller - Realtek RTL8201
Award BIOS v6.00PG
ATX, 305mm x 220mm
ECS 755-A2 mainboard is a revision of ECS 755-A (obviously, the original won’t be produced anymore) and formally differs from it by the official support of DDR400 SDRAM. You should be aware, too, that this mainboard may come without the network controller and with a simpler version of the South Bridge (SiS964L). This version may cost you a few dollars less, but you won’t have network and SerialATA RAID.