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Topic: Simon, Sis 735 chipset/Best motherboard for music

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  1. #1

    Simon, Sis 735 chipset/Best motherboard for music

    Simon, after reading your raves about Sis 735 chipset/AMD CPU motherboards for better giga polyphony I did some research. What I found was both good and bad. It appears there are really only two motherboards to look at with the 735 chipset, the others are crap, those two are the ECS K7S5A ($50)(which Simon has)(make sure to get revision \"3\"), and the Leadtek 7350KDA ($90)(make sure to get assembly \"C\"). Of the two you get what you pay for, with the Leadtek being the better of the two from reviewers testing them both (three DDR ram sockets for 1.5 gig memory, 6 PCI slots, and better benchmark scores for the Leadtek verses two SDram two DDR ram sockets for 1.0 gig memory and 5 PCI slots for the ECS). The good part of these boards are the increased bandwidth for the PCI buss, the IDE buss, and for midi (whether you run midi through serial/parallel/USB/PCI buss using a PCI sound card/ or though the onboard midi) about a fourfold increase in bandwidth/throughput over other chipsets, this is what is probably letting Simon get 160 voice polyphony noise free, where almost everyone else seems to top out at around 100 before pops and clicks. So the good news is that these two boards have better IDE buss/PCI buss/and midi than other chipsets, which is exactly what helps run giga at its best.
    Now for the bad . . . there is no free lunch here. Many are having problems with these boards and what they have found out is: 1) You must run the CPU and memory at the same speed for these boards to perform, i.e. 100/100 133/133 150/150. If you run your AMD CPU and memory at different speeds you will cripple performance. From what I can figure out, since you have improved the buss input/output so much with this chipset, it stresses the CPU and memory much more and therefore the timing between the CPU and memory is much more critical. 2) Because of the greater buss input/output it pushes the limits of the Windows 98 OS, Windows 2000/XP doesn\'t have this problem. Many users of these Sis 735 boards have to install at 100/100 speeds, non-aggressive memory settings in the BIOS (detune the CPU and memory) just to install Windows 98. Then they download a Windows 98 patch dealing with IDE drives. After patching Windows 98, these users then bump up the performance in the BIOS. Simon in his posts has had this problem (Simon check out the Windows 98 IDE patch, you may get your ECS board up to 133/133 for better performance). 3) These SIS 735 boards are fussy overclockers, forget about it with the ECS, and you will have to up voltages to the CPU/memory with the Leadtek (better have good case cooling). So if you are a newbie, it will not be an easy set-up.
    BOTTOM LINE: Simon has done all of us a favor here by opening our eyes to the SIS 735 chipset and its better giga performance. This chipset is benchmarked within 2% of the fastest other PC chipset so you will get top performance no matter what kind of software you run. I think for the extra $40 the Leadtek motherboard will give better performance and more stability (I think they got the memory timing issues better addressed than ECS). You will have to detune, patch, and retune if you go with a Windows 98 OS. These motherboards are not for newbies, you will have to get your hands dirty. On the plus side, they may be the best motherboards out there for music period.

  2. #2

    Re: Simon, Sis 735 chipset/Best motherboard for music

    It is true that quite a few people have problems with the K7S5A motherboard - including my big brother, and myself to some degree. As I wrote, I had instability problems, which went away when I set the FSB/SDR speeds to 124/124. At 133/133 my CPU gets too hot and the system becomes unstable. So yes, it is not a system for a beginner who just wants to buy something and then it works. However I think the benefits are too great to ignore.

  3. #3

    Re: Simon, Sis 735 chipset/Best motherboard for music

    I\'m using the ECS K7S5A board in my GS setup, and have not experienced any issues. It performs quite well, and has been stable for me.

    However, while the ECS board is clearly a good value for the money, it is *not* suitable for overclocking. Ironically, although hardly anyone has heard of ECS, they are the second largest motherboard producer in the world...

    There are some limitations with this board. The onboard IDE controllers are only ATA-100 (not the newer ATA133), overclocking is a no-no, and onboard RAM is limited to 1GB (4 @ 256MB) max.

    So I guess my take on it is this: It is a good board for a basic, budget system for someone who can live without overclocking. If you\'re looking for a high-end SiS735 chipset board, this probably isn\'t the one to choose...


  4. #4

    Re: Simon, Sis 735 chipset/Best motherboard for music

    Simon and Ensonic, have you tried the midi of the onboard soundchip on the ECS motherboard? I know the soundchip is crap but if you only use the midi from the game-port what happens? Better midi than using USB/serial/parallel/PCI buss? just wondering

  5. #5

    Re: Simon, Sis 735 chipset/Best motherboard for music

    I have not tried it since I need 4 MIDI ports. But I doubt that the onboard MIDI is better than using a real MIDI interface. My USB MIDI interface gives me surprisingly good performance. I did a test of this a while back - that was on my old VIA crap system though, where I got in a lot of trouble above 120 or so voices. But with \'medium orchestration\' across 16 different MIDI channels I got only 2 ms of MIDI jitter.

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