PC hardware


PC Hardware Computer Information, Guides, News, and Reviews find the latest prices for technology and gadgets here

View Prices
 

Soyo KT400 Dragon Motherboard

Soyo KT400 Dragon Ultra Platinum Edition

Soyo KT400 Dragon Ultra Platinum Edition
Price: £160 at time of writing
Site: www.soyousa.com for information
Uses: Latest motherboard technology

SOYO LogoDragon Logo
Soyo Dragon KT400 Motherboard

I wont bother to include details about the KT400 chipset as the chances are most of you know all about it by now.

I hadnt heard much from Soyo untill about 6 months ago when i started taking an intrest in their products, I also noticed that a well known overclock retailer had started stocking their products.

So lets begin with the packaging - the packaging is first class you get a 'usual' white box which is slightly larger than the norm you get a conveinent handle and a very eye catching box sleeve

Inside the box:

Soyo Dragon Contents

- 1 mainboard - 1 manual
- 8-in-1 CD - Norton Anti-Virus,Ghost 2002, Adobe ActiveShare & Reader
- Three (3) ATA-133 IDE cables
- SPDIF audio connector
- Sigma Box includes Compact Flash/Smart Media reader/writer & two front USB 2.0 ports

Board Specifications:

Chipset Type
VIA KT400
Chipset Description
VIA KT400 / 8235 chipset
Supports 200/266 MHz FSB
Graphics Info
AGP Pro slot supporting 8X AGP
Form Factor
ATX
Memory Type
DDR400/333 SDRAM
Memory Description
Three DDR 2.5V DIMM sockets support up to 3GB (DDR 333/266/200, 2GB for DDR 400)
184-pin PC3200/PC2700/PC2100/PC1600 non-ECC, unbuffered DDR SDRAM memory
Expansion Slots
Five 32-bit Bus Mastering PCI slots (V2.2 compliant)
One Universal 8X AGP Pro slot (supports 8x/4x modes)
Expansion Slot Types
Five 32-bit Bus Mastering PCI
IDE Type
UDMA 66/100/133
IDE Description
Optional serial ATA support (rated at 150 MB/sec) through the use of riser cards
Four independent channels for 8 IDE devices (2 for RAID)
Supports up to PIO mode 5 & Ultra DMA 66/100/133
Two PCI bus mastering ATA E-IDE ports
Audio Description
On board CMI 8738 audio chip providing 6-channel audio solution
Supports optical output & SPDIF output
IO Port Description
Two RS-232 serial ports (16550 UART compatible)
One parallel printer port (SPP/EPP/ECP mode)
One FDD port (supports 3 modes, 1.2/1.44/2.88MB FDD)
Provides IrDA with optional cable for transceiver
Provides 6 USB 2.0 ports (2* rear, 4*front)
IO Connection Description
PS/2 Mini-DIN mouse & keyboard ports
Two USB 2.0 ports
One RJ45 connector
Two D-Sub 9-pin male serial ports
One D-Sub 25-pin female printer port
Audio I/O: LINE-OUT x 1, LINE-IN x 1, MIC JACK x 1
One game port
BIOS Description
Award PCI BIOS with ACPI function
Supports multiple-boot from E-IDE / SCSI / CD-ROM / FDD / LS120 / ZIP
2 Mbyte Flash ROM
Health Monitoring Description
On board voltage monitors
CPU fan speed monitor
CPU fan speed monitor
CPU temperature monitoring through flexible thermal sensor
CPU overheating protection
Dimension Description
Four layers, 30.5 cm x 24.5 cm (12" x 9.6")
ATX form factor
Certification
FCC Class B & CE EMI Regulation Compliant. PC99 Compliant
Compatibilities
WinXP / Win2000 / WinNT / WinME / Win98SE / Linux / FreeBSD

Diagram of Motherboard

The boards layout is very good a great deal of thought has gone into the placing of the many functions and features and the result is excellent.

The main difference from the norm is the colour of the PCB itself which is a very cool looking silver. Soyo have made this board eyecatching and different with the PCB and the contrasting colours of the PCI and USB connectors.

View Of Motherboard

There is plenty of room around the CPU socket.

CPU Socket

The ram slots are far enough away from the AGP slot which allows for easy insertion of hardware. If you didnt know some manufacturers leave little space between the ram and agp which means you have to remove your graphics card before you can upgrade / remove a ram module.


To the right of the ram are the two main IDE connectors.

The Northbridge comes complete with cooler already installed which matches the rest of the board with its colour of silver.

Soyo North Bridge with Cooler

Soyo North Bridge with Cooler

To the left of the northbridge is the Power connector which again is on the leftof the board this shouldnt be a problem unless your case and PSU location makes space a problem.

View Of PSU Connector and connectors

8X AGP Pro slot located just above the AGP slot is is aadditional power input which is for sole use by the AGP and its hardware.

Purple PCI Slots

Below the AGP lies 5 PCI slots in the different colour of purple, under these slots are the USB and SmartMedia pin outs. And to the right are the system pin outs and the IDE Raid and Floppy drive connector.

HighPoint RAID Controller and Connectors

The Raid is supplied by the built in High-point HPT372 controller which can support up to 4 Raid devices

Also built in is the audio which comes from a C-Media 8738 audio chip it provides 6-channel audio, oviously if your more than the average user you will no doubt disable this feature but for the average and most users the sound will be more than adaquant. As mentioned by the reviewer of the DFI KT400 they mentioned the lack of a digital input well... Soyo include in the package a SPDIF audio connector which of course is complete with silver PCB.

The board looks fantasic the colour of the PCB is a main feature i like but looking and using the board you can see that a lot of time has been put into the smaller fatures, the spacing around the hardware is generous when compared to others. The mix of contrasting colours adds to the overall look of the board, the floopy drive connector being moved down the board is a benift i never did like having all 3 connectors close to each other and then trying to make them neat and connect at the same time.

The board has only 1 jumper : ) I like jumperless motherboards so much as you can basically just slot and go this makes it so much easier if you are swapping hardware around or upgrading alot, the only jumper is for the CMOS and this is located at the bottom of the board along with the CMOS cell battrey.

The connectors are fairly standard comprising of the 2 PS2, 2x USB and Lan, then to your com ports and on to your audio connectors.

The manual is the most comprehensive motherboard manual i have seen it comes in at 186 pages!!! That isnt a bad thing at all it covers absolutly everything on the board and gives a brief but detailed look at each connector. Also easy to understand sections on RAID and Audio are also included.

Another which i like about the board is the attention to details as mentioned above good use of space and features is included but the etchings / markings make the board easy to read this is especially of use when connecting the case cables.

Etchings On Motherboards PCB

You also get bundled with the pack a 8 in 1 Cd which isnt anything special but is a nice addition especially if you wanted Norton Antivirus & Ghost 2002, also included o nthe disc is Adobe reader and ebook, and also WinDvd 2000. Just think if you were to buy the virus on its own would cost £20, Ghost another £25 or so, its a good addition to have included.

Also included in the package is a Sigma Box

Sigma BoxSigma Box Connectors

This is a device that can fit in either a 3.5" drive bay or a 5.25" bay which is also included. The connectors at the front of the box comprises of 2 x USB 2.0 ports and a SmartMedia & Compact Flash ports which allow easy connection of USB and of course your digital media the Sigma allows both the SmartMedia and CFlash to be used at the same time.

This is a unexpected additional feature of the KT400 Dragon which gives you even more versatile options especially if you havent got front USB ports within your case this gives you that option. The USB 2.0 connect via a cable to the one of the connectors at the bottom of your board.

Supplied with the KT400 comes a seperate S/PDIF card which offers In and Out & RCA connections, the ability to connect Centre and rear speaker outputs are also catered for.

S/PDIF cardS/PDIF Rear View

Bios

This board uses a 2MB flash bios from AWARD. The normal features are all included with the addition of many tweak options which allow you to push the board further if you wished. As with most boards you can increase the frequency of the CPU by 1Mhz steps. The ranges offered are from 100Mhz all the wayto 255Mhz so if your a overclocker etc you have some room to play with this board.

another option in the bios is the ability to alter the PCI divider which is best modified if you areincreasing the speed of the FSB. Its a feature that doesnt really appeal to me personally but is worth noting that it is a very useful if not essential tool when clocking.

Although 400Mhz DDR isnt officially supported yet if you look under the timing options you can view the option of 200Mhz included (200 = 400Mhz DDR | 166 = 333Mhz) So this board is 400Mhz ready.

Other normal options include the ability to alter the voltage of your cpu and agp systems. Another essential item is the antiburn systems which are called different things from maker to maker but essentially it monitors the temperture of you CPU if it gets to hot it will automatically shut down the system. If only the world had this feature in the early days.

Testing:

Setup used was a XP1800 384MB 2100DDR

Sandra 2002 Pro - CPU, Memory, & Multimedia Bench Marks

Sandra Benchmarks
Sandra Benchmarks
Sandra BenchmarksSandra Benchmarks

PCMark 2002

PCMark Benchmark
PCMark Benchmark

I have really enjoyed reviewing this board, right from the start from opening the great looking box (complete with carry handle) to opening the packet and seeing the stunning silver PCB this board looks and performs so well.

The first thing many will look at is the price tag yes this Soyo KT400 Dragon Ultra does cost £160 and it is likely to appeal to the pc user who knows their stuff and is looking for great performance and features from a great name.

However i do think the price is justified the board comes with many options ok so the performance jump from KT333 to KT400 isnt that big at present but the 400Mhz combined with the ovious benifits of USB 2.0, Raid this is the latest spec here.

Also for users with digital cameras etc Soyo make it even more appealing for you they have bundled this board with the prementioned Sigma Box giving you both Smart Media and Compact Flash read / write options which can be used at the same time.

Audio is supplied by a fully fledged 6 channel controller and with the SPDIF allowing for optical and increased in / out options this board can handle anyhting.

The only thing i was surprised to see not included was a firewire option this isnt that big of a deal unless of course you already have enabled devices. This board can be made Serial ATA by purchasing a additional add-on card direct from vendors and Soyo themselves, this allows you to expand the boards capabilitys further as the technology develops.

The Bios and board overall has many options to keep the hardended tweaker and clocker happy. the board comes with holes surronding the cpu socket to enable users to connect coolers and pumps to keep your cpu nice and under control.

Of course another reason for peole to by this board could be the colour case modders who have got all the cathodes and neon fans / light shows in there system case.... whats next well a cool looking silver PCB would look great and of course for the silver case owners out there compliments it nicely.

For:

Latest in board technology
Colour, overclock features and support
400Mhz Ram support
6 channel audio inc SPDIF
RAID, USB 2.0
Sigma box

Against:

Price - may put people off
No Firewire support