Soyo KT333 Dragon Ultra Motherboard Review

The Soyo KT333 Dragon Ultra Motherboard Review - Page 1


The Soyo KT333 Dragon Ultra Motherboard Review
The Best That Soyo Has To Offer!

By, Jeff Bouton
June 23, 2002

Since the KT333 chipset was first released, we've seen a steady improvement in what Athlon-based motherboards have to offer.  With the new USB 2.0 and ATA133 standards, as well as 333MHz DDR PC2700 DRAM support, system boards have gotten a much welcomed boost in overall performance and features.  Today we'll be taking a look at one of the latest additions to the KT333 lot, the Soyo KT333 Dragon Ultra.

Soyo has been producing the "Dragon" line of motherboards since the release of the original KT266 chipset.  As time went by, the Dragon series has earned a reputation for being the cream of the Soyo crop, embodying the best of what Soyo has to offer.  With its latest incarnation though, we've heard talk of a great looking board, with less than stellar performance versus other KT333 variants.  Several websites and print magazines alike were reporting how the Dragon Ultra had fantastic features, yet it didn't quite keep up with the competition when push came to shove.  Needless to say, once we got a hold of our test sample, we were anxious to see for ourselves if these stories were true.

So let's get to it and see what all the fuss is about...

Specifications of the Soyo KT333 Dragon Ultra Motherboard
Look At All The Pretty Colors!

* Supports AMD Socket-A type processors, including AthlonXP, Athlon and Duron (up to 2200+)

* Socket "A"(462)

Chipset Type
* VIA KT333
Chipset Description
* VIA KT333 / 8233A chipset
* Supports 200/266 MHz FSB
* VIA V-link chip interconnect (266MB/s)

Form Factor

Memory Type

Memory Description
* Three DDR 2.5V DIMM sockets support up to 3GB (DDR 333/266/200)
* 184-pin PC2700/PC2100/PC1600 non-ECC, unbuffered DDR SDRAM memory

Expansion Slots
* Five 32-bit Bus Mastering PCI slots (V2.2 compliant)
* One Universal AGP Pro slot (supports 1x/2x/4x modes)

Expansion Slot Types
* Five 32-bit Bus Mastering PCI

IDE Type
* UDMA 66/100/133

IDE Description
* 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

WinXP / Win2000 / WinNT / WinME / Win98SE / Linux / FreeBSD

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 4 USB ports (2* rear, 4*front)

IO Connection Description
* PS/2 Mini-DIN mouse & keyboard ports
* Two USB 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

* FCC Class B & CE EMI Regulation CompliantPC99 Compliant


Below is a list of the items that accompany the Soyo KT333 Dragon Ultra Motherboard


When it comes to a complete package, the Soyo KT333 Dragon Ultra comes as close to "complete" as we've seen.  Included is an installation CD with a clean and easy to understand menu that guides the user through the installation process.  A comprehensive manual is also included that covers the setup of the board and BIOS and RAID configurations, in excellent detail.  The package also comes with 1 floppy & 3 80-Pin ATA133 data cables for connecting the drives to the system.  A small packet of thermal grease is also provided to apply to the processor before mounting an HSF to it.  An SPDIF audio connector and cable is included that connects to the systems on-board audio, making all the necessary connections readily accessible.  A bonus "Sigma Box" (SB-P4SX) featuring four front USB 2.0 ports is included, with all the hardware needed to mount it in either a 3 1/2" floppy bay or a standard 5 1/4" bay.  Two USB connector cables are provided to connect the Sigma box to the two USB 2.0 sockets on the motherboard.  The Soyo "8-in-1" CD comes complete with the following titles:  Norton Anti-Virus 2002, Ghost 2002, Adobe ActiveShare, Acrobat Reader, Acrobat eBook Reader, WinDVD 2000, and trials/samples of AutoSave and Imagemore.  All in all, this is a complete and thorough package that should make even the most critical end user more than delighted with all the extras.

Aside from the Bonus CD, the drivers CD comes with a decent Audio Control Utility program, to take full advantage of the on-board audio capabilities.  To be honest, this reminds me of the audio rack software that used to come with Sound Blaster cards a few years back.  Some of you older folks may remember what I'm talking about.  It wasn't the most robust software, but you had the tools needed to use all of the hardware's functions.  The Audio Rack included with this motherboard is no different.  The software is comprised of four key components, a CD Player, Midi Player, MP3/Wave/VCD player and a Mixer, offering a fair amount of functionality. 

Now that we've covered what comes with the Soyo KT333 Dragon Ultra, let's move on and take a closer look at the motherboard itself.

Quality, Setup and the BIOS


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