THE K7-DRAGON BIOS:
The K7-DRAGON is a
jumperless board, so within the BIOS there are
settings to control virtually all aspects of the
All of the regulars out
there will surely recognize the very common AWARD BIOS
powering the K7-DRAGON. All of the most wanted
"tweaking" and overclocking options are available,
with one exception...there is no way to adjust the VIO
voltage. Of most interest to all the enthusiasts
will be the "Soyo Combo Menu" (middle, far right).
The Combo feature is similar to Abit's Softmenu.
This is where you'll find all of the overclocking
options. Changing your multiplier, FSB or VCore
voltage is only a matter of pressing a few keys.
Users can also adjust memory timings to increase
performance, or accommodate different RAM types.
Layout and Quality
This Ain't Your Momma's Mobo...
THE DRAGON'S LAYOUT:
had a good "out-of-box" experience when we opened the
package to our K7-DRAGON an began it's physical
Initially, we were happy to
see that Soyo chose to include active cooling for the
Northbridge, but when we removed the heatsink / fan combo, we were disappointed
to find that no thermal interface material was used.
We won't hold too much against Soyo for this though,
because enough Thermal Paste is included with the DRAGON
to cover the Northbridge and a CPU. Also visible
above is the "new" 8233 VIA Southbridge.
The K7-DRAGON also ships with
the best on-board sound solution we have used to date.
A C-Media 8738 6-Channel sound chip with analog and digital I/O
ports is standard. The sound quality was excellent
using the on-board sound, on par with soundcards like the
Sound Blaster Live!, but not quite on the level of the Audigy or Hercules Game Theater XP.
One of the "cooler" aspects of the DRAGON is clearly
visible in many of these pictures, the Purple PCI slots!
The Purple slots and Black PCB make this board an
excellent choice if you have a windowed case, or like to
show off your hardware. We prefer a 6 PCI slot
configuration, but considering the K7-DRAGON already has
built-in RAID, a sound card and a 10/100 NIC, 5 PCI slots
should be plenty. The DRAGON is equipped with an AGP
Pro slot as well. We consider this a plus, even
though there are very few graphics cards available that
utilize this type of slot.
If you take a close look at
the external case connectors, you'll see another of the
K7-DRAGON's extras, the on-board 10/100 NIC.
On-Board sound...on-board NIC...throw in a nice video
card, and you've got the makings of an excellent LAN box!
The case connectors are clearly labeled and well placed at
the corner of the board. The rest of the headers for
the extra USB connectors, IR interface and Smart Card
reader are also well labeled and place along the bottom
edge of the board. Unfortunately, Soyo didn't
include any of the necessary hardware to take advantage of
these extra headers.
The IDE, Floppy and RAID
connectors are located along the edge of the board.
This is our favorite configuration, as it makes it much
easier to keep your cabling neat. Around the Socket
you'll see the large capacitors used to filter the current
to the CPU, which is necessary for stable operation.
Behind the capacitors you'll find the ATX power connector
out of the way of any critical components.
Overall, we were very pleased
with the K7-DRAGON's layout, it is obvious that Soyo put
much thought into this board's design...
Let's See What Gigabyte is up to...