Soyo SY6VCA Slot 1 VIA Apollo Pro 133A - HotHardware

Soyo SY6VCA Slot 1 VIA Apollo Pro 133A

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Soyo's SY-6VCA Slot 1 Motherboard
Is there a new Sheriff in town?

By, Marco ?BigWop? Chiappetta
June 16, 2000

  

Soyo has been making quite a name for themselves as of late.  When Intel?s very popular BX chipset was prevalent, Soyo arguably produced a few of the very best boards available.  Time goes by and new products enter the market, so the  SY-6BA+IV and SY-6BA+III may not be on top of everyone?s ?buy? list anymore.  Intel?s successor to the BX chipset, the i820, has met with limited success and a multitude of ?issues?, which has left board manufacturers looking for a potent chipset to deliver power to the mainstream.  The VIA Apollo Pro 133A seems to have been universally accepted as the chipset to do just that and the SY-6VCA is one of Soyo?s offerings in this space.  The VIA Apollo 133A market is filled with some heavy hitters right now.  The Asus P3V4X and the Tyan Trinity 400 are tough company.  Has Soyo delivered once again?  Let?s find out.

Specifications / Features of the Soyo SY-6VCA
All the best features but give us that 6th. PCI Slot!

 

  • 66/100/133MHz FSB Slot 1 Based ATX Motherboard

  • Supports the following processors: 133MHz FSB Pentium III Processors 533+ MHz, 100MHz FSB Pentium III Processors 450/500/550+ MHz, 100MHz FSB Pentium II 350/400/450 MHz., 66MHz FSB Pentium II 233/266/300/333 MHz, 66MHz FSB Celeron Processors 266~300MHz., 66MHz FSB Celeron Processors 300A~433 MHz with integrated 128KB full speed L2 cache

  • VIA 694X Chipset - Supports 66/100/133 MHz FSB

  • Three 168-pin SDRAM DIMM sockets support up to 1.5GB, Support PC-100/PC-133 SDRAM

  • Provides ECC (Error Checking Correction) capability

  • Five 32-bit Bus Mastering PCI slots (V2.2 compliant), One 16-bit ISA slot

  • One Universal AGP slot (support 1x/2x/4x mode)

  • One Audio/Modem Riser Connector (Revision 1.0), AC97 Codec on board to provide software audio solution

  • Two RS-232 serial ports (16550 UART compatible), One parallel printer port (SPP/EPP/ECP mode)

  • One FDD port (Supports LS120, 3 mode, 1.2/1.44/2.88 MB FDD)

  • Provides IrDA port with optional cable for transceiver

  • Two independent channels for four IDE devices, Supports up to PIO mode 4 and Ultra DMA 33/66

  • Award PCI BIOS with green, ACPI, APM, PnP, DMI, functions and Year 2000 compliant

  • Supports multiple-boot from E-IDE/ SCSI/ CD-ROM/ FDD/ LS120/ ZIP

  • 2 Mbit Flash ROM - SOYO AI-BIOS

  • Four layer PCB, 30.5 cm x 20.0 cm, ATX form factor

  • Built-in chipset hardware monitoring functions

  • On-board voltage monitors for CPU Vcore, VTT, +5v, +12V and VBAT

  • CPU fan speed control & monitor

  • Precision CPU temperature monitoring through CPU on-die thermal diode

  • Battery Low detection

  • PS/2 Mini-DIN mouse & keyboard ports, Two USB port, One D-Sub 25-pin female printer port, two serial ports

  • Audio I/O: LINE-Out x 1 , LINE-In x 1, MIC JACK x 1, One game port

Soyo has been known for the quality of their products.  Once the box to the SY-6VCA was opened, we noticed some very good things, along with a few caveats.  Having given the board a close look, scrutinizing all traces, connectors and solder connections, we can say that it screams of top-notch craftsmanship.  It is evident Soyo takes pride in their products.

Something that had been missing from the first few VIA boards to ship in the market,  was a heat sink over the chipset.  Actually the Tyan Trinity 400 still ships without one.  Soyo however, does include a heat sink for the chipset and does so in better fashion than the normal spring clip / no thermal compound combination.

Soyo attaches the heatsink to the chip with thermal epoxy, which is much more efficient than the spring clip method when thermal compound isn?t used.

 

However, the same attention to detail given on the assembly line was not given to the layout.  There are a few aspects of the layout that we didn?t like.  The first thing is the slot configuration.  This is a very minor problem, as most won?t be using the AMR slot.  However, should the AMR slot be used, access to the first PCI slot is lost.  Sharing its position with the ISA slot would have been a better choice as the board would keep all of it?s functionality without having to sacrifice a more desirable PCI slot.

If you refer to the large board pic, you?ll also notice how close the AGP slot is to the first memory bank.  Positioning the slot this close to the memory bank prevents the use of RAM heatsinks on certain video cards with RAM chips on the backside of the board.  There really is very little clearancein this area

Another gripe we have with the 6VCA is that there are only 2 fan headers.  For a board with the overclocking prowess the 6VCA offers, including only 2 fan headers was a bad move in our opinion.  I personally connect all fans (with the exception of the CPU fan) directly to my power supply, so this doesn?t aggravate me as much as it would some others.  Nonetheless, this is another check in the ?CONS? box.

A potentially huge problem arose while installing the PCI cards we require for testing.  Soyo?s placement of the BIOS chip is horrendous.  The BIOS chip is directly in front of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th PCI slots.  While inserting the cards we made contact with the BIOS chip.  Removing the cards and applying pressure to the chip to firmly seat it all the way down in its socket alleviated the problem. However, with the cards mounted there is less than a millimeter?s clearance.  A slightly out of spec card isn?t going to fit.  The last gripe we have with this board is the placement of the voltage adjustment jumpers.  Throughout testing we did not have to utilize them, but they are placed so close to the back of the Slot 1 connector that adjusting them while a CPU is mounted would be very difficult. 

There is good news though!  Soyo is one of the few board makers that include any sort of useful software bundle with their products.  The 6VCA shipped with full versions of Norton Anti-Virus, Norton Ghost (an AWESOME drive imaging tool...if you?re not familiar with it, check it out) and Norton Virtual Drive.  I haven?t played with Virtual Drive.  What it does is create a usable image of CDs on a hard drive.  If you have the space available, you could create disk images of your favorite games and not have to insert the CDs before you play.  Something not everyone would use but there are a few LAN Party freaks I know that might enjoy not having to carry around their CDs anymore.  Including all this software is a definite plus.  Other board makers should take note.

The paper ?Quick Start? manual that ships with the 6VCA isn?t so hot, but a full manual is available on the included setup CD which also includes all the required VIA drivers and drivers for the on-board audio.

 

Installation, Setup and Benchmarks

 

 

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