Soyo's K7ADA ALi DDR Socket A Mobo!

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Soyo's K7ADA ALi DDR Socket A Mobo! - Page 2

Soyo's K7ADA ALi DDR Socket A Mobo...
With some Crucial PC2100 RAM and a WBK38 thrown in!

By Marco "BigWop" Chiappetta
April 18, 2001

We wanted to give the SY-K7ADA as much "breathing room" as possible, so we commissioned the good folks at Crucial for some high quality PC2100 DDR RAM...

       
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They came through with a 128MB single-sided CAS 2.5 stick that performed very well.  We were actually able to run this particular module at CAS 2 without a problem.  For those of you not familiar with the benefits of DDR, or it's naming scheme, we'll cover it for you quickly.  PC2100 RAM is a 133MHz part, with a theoretical peak of 2.1GB/Sec bandwidth...hence the 2100 moniker.  The higher bandwidth is achieved by sending / receiving data on both the rising and falling peaks of a clock cycle.  Here's a simple diagram to show what this means:

The blue line visible at the top of the curve designates when standard SDRAM can send / receive data, while the green lines illustrate where DDR can send / receive.  In the same clock cycle, twice as much information is moved, resulting in a theoretical doubling of performance.  Get it?  Got it? Good. :)

We also wanted to be sure and keep our T-Bird nice and chilly to eliminate to possibility of heat causing a crash or lock-up throughout testing.  Our friends at the Heatsink Factory delivered with a GlobalWin WBK3B...take a look at this thing...

                   

An 8K RPM fan, with enough aluminum and fins to cool down any CPU...very nice!
  

Installation, Quality and Layout
There's "some" work involved

Installation of the K7ADA was, as with all ATX motherboards, a snap.  Mount it, plug it in and you're ready to roll.  Physical inspection shows that the general construction of the board is very clean and of very high quality.  If you take the time to look through some of the photos, you'll see that Soyo silk-screens a ton of information on the board virtually eliminating the need to look at the manual when you first set this board up.  We were, however, disappointed with some of the decision made with regards to the K7ADA's layout.

              

The power supply connector is located behind the external case connectors below the CPU.  With the power connector in this location, the cables to our PSU were draped directly over our CPU, hindering airflow.  We would definitely have liked to see the power connector placed at the top of the board, out of the way of all components. You'll notice in the second picture that the BIOS EPROM is mounted directly in front of three PCI slots.  Most of the time this would not be a problem, but the chip was so high, it would rub against cards when we inserted them into the slots.  We had to firmly press EPROM down into it's socket to insure that PCI cards using the slots directly in front of the EPROM would seat correctly.

   

We were pleased to see Soyo provide active cooling on the Northbridge, but didn't like the fact that it used one of the three fan headers available on the board, leaving only 2 open for a CPU and case fan.

             

However, location of the drive and case connectors is excellent, placed far to the edge of the board, not obscuring any other components.  Notice the clean silk-screen showing where each of the case connectors should be.  If you've ever swapped out a motherboard and didn't have that information handy, you know how much of a blessing it is to have it available right in front of you.

              

Located "under" the last PCI slot we were pleased to find connectors allowing for 4 additional USB ports.  This would be great if Soyo opted to provide the extra connectors necessary to utilize these ports, but they didn't.  When we mentioned something was missing in from the bundle on page 1...this was it...

As we continue our travels around the Soyo SY-K7ADA, we're brought to the CPU socket, where we again find a mixed bag.

     

Around the socket, you'll see an array of very large capacitors, used to filter the current to the CPU.  As we've mentioned in many previous reviews, having a clean, even flow of current supplied to the CPU is paramount to a stable system.  We're happy to mention that the K7ADA is definitely a stable piece of hardware.  With the boards first BIOS revision and using early ALi chipset drivers, we did not experience a single crash.  In the middle picture, take notice of the four holes which can be used for direct heatsink mounting.  If you're case is equipped for direct mounting and you've got a compatible CPU cooler, your good to go.  However, all is not rosy...

              

The spacing of those large caps surrounding the CPU is poor.  We BARELY managed to mount our WBK38.  We had to slightly bend the capacitor to the rear of the Socket to get the cooler mounted, and it still touched the capacitor when laying flat.

The BIOS, Overclocking and Quake 3

 
Tags:  DDR, Mobo, SoC, socket, K

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