Soyo SY-CK8 Dragon Plus Motherboard
Lot To Offer
clear from looking at the packaging that this board is not
targeted to the high-end enthusiast, but rather the more
practical user that wants all the performance and none of
the extraneous extras found with higher end models.
With the SY-CK8, performance and features are the main
concerns here, along with some good looks.
layout of the SY-CK8 was clean and well planned. We
didn't find a lot of component placement issues commonly
reported with other boards, which was refreshing. We really liked the positioning of
the ATX power connector, allowing the cabling from the power
supply to steer clear of the CPU. The supplemental
power to the CPU is nestled amongst the capacitors at the
rear of the socket, also not having an effect on the CPU
cooler's airflow. 3 DIMM slots are provided to
accommodate up to 2GBs of DDR 266/333/400 memory.
The board does come with a fair
collection of hard drive options, including 2 SATA and 2 IDE
RAID controller is powered by the nforce3 150 chipset and supports both RAID
0 and RAID 1. The Chipset is positioned close to the PCI
slots and has a hefty heat sink attached for added heat
dissipation. This should aid in system stability,
especially when overclocking the SY-CK8.
The board is equipped with an
AGP 8X slot as well as 6 PCI slots for plenty of
expandability. Built with the nForce 3 150 at its
core, the SY-CK8 offers up a fair amount of onboard
components as well. An additional USB header is provided to
expand upon the boards 4 ports at the rear of the board.
The rear connections have a more traditional appearance,
offering 2 serial and 1 LPT port, items considered legacy
options that are starting to disappear from a lot of newer
motherboards. There are also the standard 2 PS/2
connections for mouse and keyboard as well at the
aforementioned 4 USB ports. Lastly we find the onboard
10/100 Ethernet port and Audio connectors. One of the
most obvious disadvantage to hamper the SY-CK8 is the
inclusion of integrated 10/100 Ethernet. Most
motherboards today have moved to Gigabit as a standard item
on their boards, yet the SY-CK8 doesn't offer a second
controller capable of this. While they can't do much
about the integrated Ethernet whose speed is dictated by the
chipset, Soyo could have opted to add a second controller to
the board with Gigabit support. With the focus being to
offer a competitive and affordable Athlon 64 motherboard, it
doesn't surprise us that 10/100 was included, but Gigabit
would have been a nice touch.
Working behind the scenes to
make sure all of the motherboard's components play nicely is
the popular Phoenix/AwardBIOS. While this motherboard
is more conservative on the outside compared to higher-end
models, underneath we found a capable BIOS menu system with
a lot of the advanced features. From a performance stand point, the board
offers a good selection of options to maximize system
performance whether running at stock speeds or while overclocked.
For example, the DRAM timings can be
configured to run By SPD, where the board gets the settings
from a programmed control chip on the RAM, or manually,
allowing for custom settings of the CAS timings, memclock
and more. To aid users in overclocking their system,
the Soyo Combo Feature holds the key to those options.
This is where the system clock generator can be adjusted, ranging
from 200MHz to an optimistic 250MHz. We also found the VCORE setting which allowed adjustments from .775v to
1.70v in .025 increments. The DRAM could be set from 2.6, 2.7, 2.8 and
2.9v and the AGP voltage ranged from 1.5, 1.6, 1.7v and 1.8v.
The one thing you will notice is there is no control setting
to adjust the "theoretical" multiplier. AMD has taken
a firm stance on this, locking all of their processor from
the Athlon XP series up to the Athlon 64. Only the
Athlon 64 FX's multiplier setting will be adjustable from here on in.
Overclocking the Soyo SY-CK8 Dragon Plus Motherboard
Turning Up the MHz.
I think by now it is clear to
everyone that overclocking the current batch of Athlon 64s
is not a terribly exiting experience. Typical results
ran from a mere 10 to 20MHz increase of the clock generator at most. But that isn't
to say it isn't worth the effort, you just need to aim low
and take baby steps. With the SY-CK8, we managed to
get up to a stable 216MHz, taking our 2GHz Athlon 64
3200+ up to 2.21GHz. That's not all that bad,
adding a 7.5% increase overall. We managed to reach
this without any voltage adjustments whatsoever, although
there was minor flakiness once we booted into Windows.
To help stabilize the system we increased the voltage to our
memory to 2.8v and gave a kick to the CPU as well, running
it at 1.7v. With that set, we had no trouble running
our benchmarks as you will see in a moment.
Interestingly enough, 217MHz was very unstable, not even
allowing us to boot into Windows.
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