SOYO Mini DRAGON 651 Review

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SOYO Mini DRAGON 651 Review - Page 3

A New Pentium 4 Small Form Factor PC In The Crowd

By: Chris Angelini
July 28th, 2003

Business Winstone 2002
The latest in office productivity benchmarking

Generally we include benchmarks for both Business Winstone 2002 and Content Creation 2003.  However, because the Mini DRAGON doesn't offer any legacy support, and because Content Creation 2003 requires a parallel port be installed, the application simply would not complete a successful run.  Business Winstone finished without a problem, however.  It is readily apparent that the application suite benefits from the power of a discrete graphics card.  Considering that Content Creation 2003 is memory-intensive, we can hypothesize an application sample of that nature would demonstrate an even larger discrepancy.

SiSoft Sandra MAX3
Brand-spankin' new!


Sandra MAX3 is the latest benchmarking application from SiSoftware, purportedly to replace Sandra 2003.  The new metric includes multi-platform benchmark results (across different architectures), support for the latest processor and chipsets from Intel, support for 64-bit architectures such as IA64 and AMD64, and support for USB 2.0 controllers, among other things.  MAX3 shows the Mini DRAGON, with its 2.8GHz Pentium 4, processing at roughly the same level as a 2.66GHz processor.  Further, memory performance is far below what we'd expect from a DDR333 module with a theoretical ceiling of 2.7GB per second. 



SOYO has put forth a valiant effort with its Mini DRAGON.  Unfortunately, in a market that is quickly saturating with compelling choices, valiant just isn't enough.  At the end of last year, SOYO was intending to ship this product during Q1 of 2003.  Even then, the Mini DRAGON would have been a tough sell.  However, now that Intel, SiS, VIA and even ATI all have chipsets validated to run with an 800MHz system bus, a box that tops out at 533MHz is tough to endorse.  And that isn't even the last of the Mini DRAGON's problems, either.  Its external power supply may be a boon to cooling, but it is an inconvenience in every other way.  The Mini DRAGON also suffers from a few maturity issues.

The fact that we couldn't get a 3.5" hard drive to boot in conjunction with a CD-RW drive in the secondary enclosure is a major disappointment.  Also, the fact that the RADEON 9700 Pro wouldn't render several 3D applications properly, even with the latest AGP and chipset drivers, isn't acceptable.  And finally, without PS/2, parallel, or serial ports, many users may find themselves looking to buy new input devices and printers.  All of these issues, on top of an MSRP that looks to be nearly $300, may be just a little too much for SOYO to ask.

SOYO hasn't struck out completely with the Mini DRAGON, however.  By including power connectors for demanding AGP cards and making use of USB 2.0 connectivity for the secondary enclosure, it shows dedication to providing a platform for gamers to tote around.  But for this version of the DRAGON, it is just a day late and a dollar short.  Next time around, it would be good to see SOYO include a more modern chipset, AGP 8x support and Serial ATA functionality.  With all of the first-round bugs worked out, the Mini DRAGON would then be an attractive SFF system.

  • Once running, several fans help ensure stability
  • Attractive design, even if some parts are somewhat chintzy.
  • Connectivity issues
  • System suffers from a few design bugs
  • Overpriced considering included hardware
  • External power supply contributes to wire mess
  • Compatibility issues with RADEON 9700 Pro

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