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Promise PDC20376 chip
The first feature most enthusiasts will notice is the P4S8Xís Serial ATA hard drive support. ASUS boasts that this makes the P4S8X the worldís first Pentium 4 motherboard with AGP 8X and Serial ATA technology, a claim they should be proud of. Since the SiS 648 chipset doesnít support Serial ATA, connectivity is provided via the Promise PDC20376 chip. The PDC20376 supports the Serial ATA 1.0 specification, which means it supports hard drive speeds up to 150MB/sec.
The P4S8X comes with two Serial ATA ports, since each port only supports one hard drive, this allows for a maximum of two hard drives. ASUS bundles the P4S8X with two Serial ATA cables, but the P4S8X packaging does not include an adapter for connecting todayís existing parallel hard drives to the Serial ATA ports. This is a bit of a disappointment especially since Serial ATA hard drives havenít made it to market just yet. Fortunately ASUS does include a third IDE connector that is tied to the Promise controller which supports two parallel hard drives, but we would have liked to see a fourth IDE connector provided as well. Also keep in mind that the Serial ATA and Parallel ATA ports cannot be used at the same time.
The P4S8X supports 5.1 audio thanks to its use of the C-Media 9739A chip. Itís a tiny little chip, but its audio capabilities should be more than enough for most Windows applications. Our biggest complaint isnít with the audio quality of the chip itself, rather the omission on ASUSís part of the S/PDIF output. Historically ASUS motherboards have shipped with this feature, however for some reason it didnít make its way onto the P4S8X. The pins on the motherboard for the external S/PDIF remain in place however, so perhaps end users will be able to pick the add-on at a later date.
EZ Plug connectors located next to ATX12V connector
Large heatsink on the SiS 648 North Bridge
ASUS Q-Fan/EZ Plug
ASUS has begun shipping all of its recent motherboards with its Q-Fan and EZ Plug technology. Q-Fan is designed to reduce system noise levels. It works by monitoring system load versus the CPUís current temperature. If system load picks up and temperature increases, Q-Fan kicks up the RPMs on the CPUís fan. Once the system load is reduced and the processor cools down, Q-Fan slows down the CPU fan, ensuring quiet yet cool operation. This also increases the efficiency of the CPU fan, theoretically extending its lifetime.
With EZ Plug, end users with non-ATX12V power supplies donít have to worry about upgrading to these units. Simply plug your existing 20-pin ATX connector in the EZ Plug and youíre good to go!