Elitegroup P5SD-B

by Anand Lal Shimpi on April 11, 1998 2:13 PM EST
Originally though to be the first Socket-7 motherboard on the planet that made use of the SiS 5591 chipset while offering support, albeit unofficially, for the 90/100MHz bus speeds, the Elitegroup P5SD-B was a disappointment to the Hardware Community, mainly because the earlier revisions that were tested didn't fully exploit the features of the chipset and the down to Earth Elitegroup quality. After a couple of hardware revisions, the P5SD-B was ready for yet another attempt at grabbing the attention of the world, and this time around, the attempt was more than successful.  Imagine a motherboard capable of running at a 90MHz bus speed reliably, while offering a 100MHz setting for those risk takers out there...sound like the MTech R581-A to you?  It should, only better...

Motherboard Specifications

CPU Interface Socket-7
Chipset SiS 5591
L2 Cache 512KB
Form Factor AT (w/ AT & ATX P/S Connectors)
Bus Speeds 60 / 66 / 75 / 83 / 90 / 100 MHz
Clock Multipliers 1.5x / 2.0x / 2.5x / 3.0x / 3.5x / 4.0x / 4.5x / 5.0x
Voltages Supported 1.8v / 2.0v / 2.2v / 2.5v /2.8v / 2.9v / 3.1v / 3.3v / 3.5v
Memory Slots 4 72pin SIMM Slots (EDO/FPM)
2 168pin DIMM Slots (EDO/SDRAM)
Expansion Slots 1 AGP Slot
3 PCI Slots
3 ISA Slots (1 Shared / 1 Full Length)


The Good

A strong foundation is necessary for any product, likewise, the P5SD-B is built upon a Baby-AT form factor PCB large enough to accommodate the 4 SIMM slots and 2 DIMM slots, in addition to the 3 PCI, 3 ISA slots and the useful AGP slot.  The board is sparsely populated with mid-sized electrolytic capacitors, almost essential to the success of this motherboard at overclocked speeds, and a massive heatsink on the voltage regulator.  The CPU Socket is placed in a position that will remain out of the way of any hard drives in your AT case, while keeping it in line with a secondary case fan at the front of the case if you choose to install one.  A secondary case fan will probably prove useful with a system using this board since the fan would blow directly across the processor's heatsink and the VR heatsink as well, something that has become somewhat of a rarity with the layout of Baby-AT boards recently. p5sd-b-1.jpg (16875 bytes)
Like the MTech R581-A, the Elitegroup P5SD-B does feature both SIMM and DIMM slots to meet the needs of virtually any user.  Elitegroup made the bold decision of including 4 SIMM slots and 2 DIMM slots instead of 2/2 or the increasingly popular 2/3 configuration.  Since most users don't use more than 2 DIMM slots (in all likelihood you will probably purchase a single DIMM instead of 2 smaller modules) this approach to expandability makes more sense, if users are prone to install more SIMMs, give them more SIMM slots...not too difficult is it?

The jumpers on the P5SD-B are easily accessible, an excellent layout for a Baby AT motherboard.  All jumper settings are documented on the motherboard (except for clock multipliers greater than 3.5x which are covered in the manual), including the unofficially supported 90/100MHz bus speed settings...two settings which were mysteriously covered up in the User's Manual.   Elitegroup's P5SD-B User's Manual was put together with outstanding attention to clarity and detail.  The manual briefly explains all of the major components on the motherboard, including the advantages of each.  While the description of the BIOS settings could be improved, the manual is still excellent when it comes to how well it aids a first time user in building/upgrading a system using the P5SD-B, at the same time the manual doesn't treat novice users as babies in its explanation of the configuration settings.  Oddly enough, the manual leaves out the setting for the core voltage of the K6/233 (3.2v), instead it documents the 3.3v setting...which in the tests that were run was closer to a 3.2v setting than the actual 3.2v setting documented on the motherboard.  The manual covers all clock multipliers from 1.5x to 5.0x and reports the recommended settings for most Socket-7 CPUs.  This board does work with the K6/266. 

Using the supplied SiS v1.22 Bus Master IDE Drivers Disk, Windows 95 quickly reconfigured the SiS 5595 PCI IDE controller and prepared the test system for its first run.  The SiS AGP Gart VxD was included on a separate disk as well, this eliminates the need to have internet access just to obtain the proper drivers to get your system up and running.  The 100MHz setting on the board would boot into Windows with the majority of the processors, unfortunately no processor would complete a full suite of tests at that speed.  The 90MHz bus speed, on the other hand, worked flawlessly with the K6/266...in fact, it put the MTech R581-A to shame in terms of stability.  Of course the Pentium MMX, Cyrix 6x86MX, and older K6 processors aren't as friendly as the K6/266 at the 90MHz bus speed, so if you happen to own one of those don't count on being able to exploit the stability factor of this board much when overclocking.

p5sd-b-2.jpg (11714 bytes)
p5sd-b-3.jpg (13317 bytes) The SiS 5591 chipset supports a maximum of 1MB of L2 cache, Elitegroup chose to use only 512KB with the P5SD-B, you won't notice any major loss of performance because of this decision. The 5591 chipset also allows for the operation of a pseudo-synchronous PCI/AGP Bus, meaning that regardless of the external Memory Bus Speed, the PCI/AGP Buses will always remain at or around 33MHz and 66MHz respectively.

The performance of the P5SD-B is just about on par with that of the MTech R581-A when overclocked, however when running your system using the standard 66MHz bus speed the R581-A beats the P5SD-B by a considerable margin.   The only real differences between the two boards are those which are skin deep (i.e. the Heatsink on the 5591 chip labeled AGP TX) aside from the increased stability at the 90MHz bus speed with the P5SD-B.

The Bad

Originally the P5SD-B was supposed to be the first Official 100MHz Socket-7 AGP motherboard, however since that announcement was made the 90/100MHz settings have been taken out of the manual and no claims are being made as to rock solid stability at the 100MHz setting.  A more stable 100MHz setting would've been a major plus with this motherboard, unfortunately that seems to be asking a little too much.  For now, you can't really complain all that much about the P5SD-B...it does the job, and then some.  While its performance could be improved with normally clocked Socket-7 processors, it screams when overclocked with a K6/266.


IRQ Usage

  • Allows user to individually set IRQs for each Legacy ISA card


BIOS Settings

Elitegroup P5SD-B Chipset Features Setup

Item Recommended Settings
  FPM EDO/SDRAM 60/66MHz Bus EDO/SDRAM 75/83/90/100MHz Bus Safe
Auto Configuration: Disabled Disabled Disabled Disabled
Refresh Cycle Time: 1040 Clocks 1040 Clocks 1040 Clocks 1300 Clocks
RAS Pulse Width Refresh: 5T 4T 4T 5T
RAS Precharge Time: 4T 2T 4T 4T
RAS to CAS Delay: 4T 2T 3T 4T
CPU to PCI Post Write: Enabled Enabled Enabled Disabled
ISA Bus Clock Frequency: 7.159MHz 7.159MHz 7.159MHz 7.159MHz
Starting Point of Paging: 4T 1T 2T 4T
NA# Enable: Enabled Enabled Enabled Disabled
SDRAM CAS Latency: 2T 2T 3T 3T
SDRAM WR Retire Rate: X-2-2-2 X-2-2-2 X-2-2-2 X-2-2-2
SDRAM Wait State Control: 1WS 0WS 1WS 1WS
RAMW# Assertion Timing: 3T 3T 3T 3T
CAS Precharge Time (EDO): 1T 1T 1T/2T 2T
CAS# Pulse Width for EDO: 2T 2T 2T 2T
CAS Precharge Time (FP): 2T 2T 2T 2T
CAS# Pulse Width for FP: 2T 2T 2T 2T
Enhanced Memory Write: Enabled Enabled Disabled Disabled
Read Prefetch Memory RD: Enabled Enabled Enabled Disabled
SRAM Back-to-Back: Enabled Enabled Disabled Enabled
System BIOS Cacheable: Enabled Enabled Enabled Disabled
Video BIOS Cacheable: Enabled Enabled Enabled Disabled
Memory Hole at 15M-16M: Disabled Disabled Disabled Disabled
AGP Aperture Size: 64MB 64MB 64MB 8MB


Recommended SDRAM

Recommended SDRAM: Corsair PC100 SDRAM
SDRAM Tested: 1 x 64MB Corsair PC100 SDRAM

Manufacturer: Corsair Microsystems
Purchase Web-Site: http://www.nf-ny.com


The Test
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