— 11:15 PM on April 27, 2003

Did any of you guys actually watch the NFL draft this weekend? I checked in to see who my Chiefs picked, but I can't imagine sitting there watching the whole thing.

Well, OK, I can. But it's kind of sad, and lots of beer is required.

Anyhow, it was a long weekend of testing here in Damage Labs, punctuated by various outdoor activities like lawn mowing. Man, I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to work with SiS chipsets sometimes when it comes to memory tweaking. Generally, I try to give every platform a fair shot by running it at the fastest stable memory timings I can. The SiS 655 in my Intel 875P chipset review was limited, or so I thought, by the fact that the Gigabyte mobo didn't expose memory timings settings in its BIOS. TR reader Robin Schwartz e-mailed me with a tip: hit CTRL-F1 in the BIOS to get access to advanced memory timings (apparently Gigabyte likes to hide these things). I did so, and I was able to set the CAS latency and other timings more aggressively. However, even with the best low-latency DDR400 memory I have, from multiple vendors, the darned thing wouldn't POST consistently at with CAS latency set to 2—and this was with the RAM running at 333MHz. Turns out the Gigabyte board's automatic memory timings were about as aggressive as one could get without causing instability.

This isn't a new wrinkle from SiS chipsets, but I am astonished that the issue persists, and that it happens so consistently, even with RAM rated for much faster speeds. Now, the SiS 655 is still a nice chipset, but it could be so much more. The 655's memory access latency numbers are not pretty, and it shows in real-world tests, where the Intel E7205 outpaces it. A shame.

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