Quality and Setup of the Soyo SY-KT400
platinum card you can really use
In one corner of the KT400
have two yellow IDE ports used in conjunction with the HighPoint 372 Raid Controller for RAID 0/1/0+1
combinations as well as a floppy drive connection.
These were placed perpendicular to airflow from fans
in the front of the case. There also was a 5V Stand-by
LED, alerting the user when power is being supplied to
the board, a boon to those of us constantly monkeying
around with the boards. The VIA VT8235 South Bridge
nearby, controls IDE, USB and other peripherals. We also found 2
of the 5 fan headers here. The other two were
placed closer to the CPU, and the fifth was already
being used by the active fan on the heat sink placed
over the North Bridge.
Against the back drop of by the
platinum PCB board, we had two green USB
2.0 Controllers for extra USB connections when using
the Sigma box. There were 5 purple PCI slots and the
AGP 3.0 slot. Our
question was, why color all but the AGP port?
Unfortunately there were no retention devices in use
on the AGP slot. Placed between two of the PCI slots
were the CD-in connections. Generally we prefer these
to be placed toward the edges of the boards rather
than placed between slots, especially when there are a
number of cards installed. We found an ATX 12V-Pin
connector right long side the AGP port.
The I/O ports had standard PS/2 ports for the mouse
and keyboard, 2 serial port, 1 parallel port, a game
port as well as 2 USB 2.0 jacks, a LAN RT-45 port and
3 Audio jacks for line-out, line-in and a microphone.
Behind this was the power array, with the MOSFETs and
capacitors arranged neatly.
The C-Media onboard chip provides for 6 channel audio
without the need for third party cards. It uses the
CM18738 chip plus C-Media XeaR technology, which
allows for virtual rear channel spatial sound effects, when using 2
speaker setups. An optional SPDIF audio card can be
connected to the SPK5 connector to provide more audio
Finally we have the KT400
Northbridge cooled by an active heatsink/fan combo
seen here as a aluminum finned heatsink with a custom
fan. The fan was relatively quiet and did not add to
the overall system noise. Finally we had 3 DIMM slots
and the IDE ports. The fan header titled CPUFAN1
must be connected with this setup, or the system will
not boot. This can be disabled later in the BIOS, but
to get this far you must initially attach the CPU
fan. We tried simply attaching a case fan, but to no
avail. On our third attempt, the machine screamed
like a banshee, apparently due to an issue with the
thermal diode. We reset the components and did not get
this to reoccur, but this was very alarming, as was
the intended effect we suppose.
SY-KT400 Dragon Ultra came in a huge box, twice the
size of the average package. In fact, to show
all of the contents, we had to take two pictures.
For the main setup, there was a comprehensive manual,
with overly large sections concerning the RAID
configuration and how to maximize your audio
experience, two sections that often get overlooked.
Realizing that many builders are going to opt for a
RAID setup as well as include other drives, Soyo put
three 80-pin IDE cables as well as a floppy cable in
the box. Rounding out the package was a S/PDIF
audio bracket and a custom I/O shield to match the
ports. To top it off, there was another 8-in-1
CD with a bunch of great utilities, including Norton
Anti-Virus 2002 and Ghost 2002, Adobe ActiveShare and Acrobat
Reader, and WinDVD 2000. The second
picture shows what Soyo calls the Sigma Box. The
Sigma Box we received had two USB 2.0 ports for easy
connections to the front of the case, as well as
Compact Flash and Smart Media slots. We had also
seen a variant of this box on the web that had four
USB 2.0 slots, for those who don't need the card
readers. A feature that may not be readily
noticed, is that unlike other breakout boxes of this
type, the Sigma box can be adapted for use in both a 5
1/4" or 3 1/2" opening.
THE BIOS AND OVERCLOCKING, AND DDR400:
No hardware jumpers were
present for setting CPU frequency or multipliers. All
of this is handled in a special area of the Award BIOS
called the SOYO COMBO feature. There were a number of
choices here for all overclocking tasks. The CPU
frequency made can be set at predetermined modes, set
to manual where 1MHz steps can be used, or you can
simply input the desired FSB. The CPU to PCI divider
can be set to /3, /4, /5, /6 dividers to keep the PCI
and AGP speeds as close to normal. The DRAM clock can
be set to 100/133/166/200 or use by SPD. The BIOS will
automatically detect the FSB of Athlon XP and Morgan
CPUs, but Thoroughbred users will need to manually
type in 133.
There were the Normal, Fast, and Turbo setting for
overall computer performance, and at stock speeds we
set this to turbo. The CPU, DDR, and AGP voltages can
all be altered separately with .25V intervals on the
CPU from 1.1V to 1.85V. The DDR voltage can be raised
to 2.8V in 1V intervals, and AGP to 1.8v. This
section also allowed us to enable or disable the
on-board audio, RAID, and LAN devices as well as
choose from 14 settings for booting the system.
The advanced tune-up
settings provides the means to change the timings for
the memory or leave them at speed defaults. There are
also two AGP options, one for aperture and the
other to enable or disable Fast Writes. The advanced
chipset features gave a few more options such as
enabling or disabling spread spectrum, cacheing the
BIOS and RAM as well as more specific controls for the
AGP card such as aperture size and the AGP Mode.
There were also AGP driver controls and values, but as
they are not fully explained in the manual they are
best left at default.
The PC Health Status will
show the voltage for each component as well as
temperatures of the External CPU or CPU on the die and
the case ambient temperature. Fan speeds are
shown for the CPU fan and two of the case fans.
Fan-off control will shut down the PC should the CPU
fan fail and the ABR will do the same should a certain
temp be reached.
We were glad to report
that we had no issues with raising the memory speed
from 166MHz to 200MHz, although we had to set the CAS
settings back from CAS2 to CAS2.5.
Unfortunately, as we will show you, the performance of
the system tanked after this. We had a good experience,
with overclocking the Soyo Dragon, although it took a
few reboots and some cajoling. Eventually, we
got the system to boot into Windows at 149MHz by
stepping up the CPU VCore to 1.775V and the AGP to
1.6V. The CPU to PCI divider was left at /4 and
we did not change any other settings except the system
performance. At anything but "Normal", the
system would freeze during post. Even after
changing this to normal, we still had quite a few
issues with the memory locked in at "By SPD", which
locked it at 166MHz. If we changed the memory
timing to 166MHz, the real memory speed would rise
incrementally with the FSB, and we had plenty of
headroom to play with. Although we were able to
get into Windows at 149MHz, we could not complete a
majority of the benchmarking routines, and found the
best stability at 145MHz.