Soyo's P4X400 DRAGON Ultra Platinum

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The Soyo P4X400 DRAGON Ultra Platinum - Page 2

The Soyo P4X400 DRAGON Ultra Platinum Edition
VIA's Rogue Chipset Has Arrived!

By, Marco Chiappetta
October 31, 2002

Before we get to installing the P4X400 DRAGON Ultra, let's take a tour around the board and see if Soyo put as much thought into the layout as they did into the aesthetics...

Quality and Setup of the Soyo P4X400 DRAGON Ultra Platinum
Looks and Substance...

     

There are a lot of things to like with regards to the P4X400 DRAGON's layout.  This board is equipped with 5 purple PCI slots, and an AGP Pro slot, which should offer plenty of expansion possibilities considering all of the on-board features already included (Realtek 10/100 LAN, C-Media 6 Channel Audio and High-Point 372 IDE RAID).  The I/O backplane is similar to many other motherboards, with the exception of the on-board LAN connector, which is becoming increasingly popular.  At the lower right corner of the board, you can see the color coded USB 2.0 connectors, and the case headers, which are all clearly labeled.  The silver PCB, besides looking really cool, makes reading the silk-screened labels extremely easy.  All of the drive connectors, and the ATX power connector are mounted parallel to the edge of the board, just behind the three DIMMs slots.  The only hitches were the placement of the ATX12V power connector, and the standard Molex connector located next to the AGP Pro slot.  We would have liked to have seen them in a cluster at the edge of the board rather than their current locations.

     

The Northbridge was actively cooled by a chrome, finned aluminum heatsink / fan combo, which is something we always like to see.  Unfortunately, when we removed the cooler, we found that Soyo installed a tiny square of thermal tape to act as the TIM (Thermal Interface Material) between the heatsink and core.  A smooth, even application of thermal paste would have been a much better choice.

       

There is ample room around the CPU socket for oversized coolers, and the board is equipped with a three-phase power circuit in the voltage regulator module (VRM), which should be adequate for 3GHz+ Pentium 4s.  An interesting find was the "X" shaped aluminum plate mounted underneath the CPU socket.  If you've even seen a board warp after installing a cooler on a P4, you know that reinforcing the socket is a great idea.  Kudos to Soyo going the extra mile, we hope other manufactures will follow suit...

THE BIOS:

        

        

The BIOS installed on the Soyo P4X400 DRAGON Ultra Platinum is a Phoenix / Award derivative, similar to most of the motherboards currently shipping.  Soyo's BIOS programmers definitely turned things up a notch in the feature department though.  The P4X400 DRAGON's BIOS was very complete, giving user's the ability to enable or disable all of the on-board components and offering a host of overclocking options...

        

  

The "Soyo Combo Feature" is reminiscent of Abit's SoftMenu III.  From within the Soyo Combo Feature menu, you'll find all of the overclocking utilities, RAM timing controls and toggles for some of the on-board components.  From within the P4X400 DRAGON's BIOS, user's can adjust the Front Side Bus (FSB) from 133MHz to 165MHz, in 1MHz increments.  VCore, DDR and AGP voltages can also be altered.  The VCore can be raised up to 1.85v, in .025v increments.  Available AGP voltages range from 1.5v to 1.8v, and available DDR voltages range from 2.5v to 2.8v.  User's can also manually select either DDR266, DDR333 or DDR400 memory speeds.  About the only overclocking feature missing is the ability to lock the AGP and PCI BUS speeds.  With all of these options, you'd think the P4X400 DRAGON would be an overclocker's dream, but we didn't have to much luck.

We used a P4 2.8GHz, that had previously overclocked to a stable 3.15GHz to test the P4X400 DRAGON's overclocking prowess.  Unfortunately, even with the VCore maxed at 1.85v, the maximum stable overclock we were able to obtain was 2.98GHz.  We then tested three different sticks of RAM (GEiL PC3500P, Corsair PC3200C2 and Kingston DDR400), but were never able to stabilize the system at anything over 2.98GHz (21x142MHz).  While we're on the subject of RAM, we'll bring up the next gripe we had with the P4X400 DRAGON.  We could not run the memory at DDR400 speeds with any of the DIMMs we had in the lab.  With the GEiL and Corsair modules, the system would not even POST when set to DDR400, and with the Kingston module, the system would constantly reset after POSTing.

Overclocking & Some Numbers

 
Tags:  ATI, dragon, X4, X400, Ultra, P4, ULT, AG, platinum, PLA

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