Soyo's P4X400 DRAGON Ultra Platinum

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The Soyo P4X400 DRAGON Ultra Platinum - Page 3

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

By, Marco Chiappetta
October 31, 2002

We took some Quake 3 Arena v1.17 Time Demo (demo001) scores at a resolution of 640X480, using 16-bit color and textures.  Running Quake 3 with a high-end graphics card with these minimal settings isolates motherboard and processor performance.  Frame rates are limited by the number of polygons the CPU is able to push through the bus, without being limited by the graphics subsystem.

Performance Comparisons with Quake 3 Arena v1.17
Low-Res Fraggin'

The P4X400 DRAGON came within a few frames per second of the PC1066 RDRAM powered system.  Had we been able to run the memory at DDR400 speeds, as opposed to the DDR333 speeds used in this test, the P4X400 would no doubt have come even closer, or perhaps surpassed the performance of the RDRAM powered system.

"Real World" Performance with the Stones
Simulated Application Performance

In our next test, we ran ZD Labs' Business Winstone 2001 benchmark to simulate "real world" application performance.  We'll directly quote ZD's eTestingLabs website to explain exactly what this test does, and how the score is tabulated:

"Business Winstone is a system-level, application-based benchmark that measures a PC's overall performance when running today's top-selling Windows-based 32-bit applications on Windows 98 SE, Windows NT 4.0 (SP6 or later), Windows 2000, Windows Me, or Windows XP. Business Winstone doesn't mimic what these packages do; it runs real applications through a series of scripted activities and uses the time a PC takes to complete those activities to produce its performance scores."

The Business Winstone tests include:

  • Five Microsoft Office 2000 applications (Access, Excel, FrontPage, PowerPoint, and Word)

  • Microsoft Project 98

  • Lotus Notes R5

  • NicoMak WinZip

  • Norton Antivirus

  • Netscape Communicator

The DRAGON didn't fare to well in the Business Winstone tests.  The RDRAM powered TH7II surged ahead of the DRAGON by about 7.1%.  Unlike their Athlon chipsets, VIA's P4X series doesn't seem to do to well in this benchmark.

Next we ran ZD's Content Creation Winstone 2002.  This benchmark runs a similar series of scripted activities, but the tests are comprised of more "bandwidth hungry" applications.  The applications used in the Content Creation Winstone 2002 tests include:

  • Adobe Photoshop 6.0.1

  • Adobe Premiere 6.0

  • Macromedia Director 8.5

  • Macromedia Dreamweaver UltraDev 4

  • Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 7.01.00.3055

  • Netscape Navigator 6/6.01

  • Sonic Foundry Sound Forge 5.0c (build 184)

We saw a slightly larger performance delta in the Content Creation 2002 tests, where the RDRAM based system outperformed the Soyo P4X400 DRAGON by about 7.5%.  We were surprised to see the P4X400 DRAGON faltering a bit here, but it seems we're not the only ones to have witnessed sub par performance in the Winstone tests with VIA's DDR chipsets for the Pentium 4.  Other publications have reported similar findings.

CONCLUSION:

From the moment we opened the box, the Soyo P4X400 DRAGON Ultra Platinum edition had us excited.  VIA's KT series of chipsets for the Athlon has been dominating the competition for years, so we had high hopes for the P4X400.  The "discussions" over the P4X's legality may have caused many manufacturers to shy away from VIA's DDR P4 chipsets, but Soyo stepped up and decided to release a eye-catching board, promising top notch performance and a slew of cutting edge features.  When setting up the board, and during some preliminary tests, our initial feelings were that Soyo had hit a home run with the P4X400 DRAGON Ultra.  Once we started tinkering, and tried to squeeze more performance from the DRAGON though, things got a little ugly.  If you're in the market for a full-featured board, sporting AGP8X and DDR333 support, and don't plan on aggressively overclocking your system, the P4X400 DRAGON Ultra is an awesome product.  The performance of the board was good, it was very stable at default settings and we didn't see any incompatibility with three different brands of RAM (GEiL, Corsair and Kingston), two different video cards (GF4 and 9700Pro) and two different sound cards (Audigy2 and Santa Cruz).  However, hardcore enthusiasts may want to stand back and see if future BIOS or board revisions clear up some of the issues we found.  The only major flaw with our P4X400 DRAGON Ultra was its inability to run the memory at DDR400 speeds, even though the Soyo is advertising this board as having DDR400 support.  Overall though, Soyo has put together an impressive motherboard that, with a little maturity, may turn out to be a killer piece of hardware.  Based on its extensive feature set, good performance and solid bundle we give the Soyo P4X400 DRAGON Ultra Platinum a HotHardware Heat Meter rating of 8...

  • Decent Layout
  • Good Performance
  • AGP 8X
  • Loaded with Extras
  • Cool to look at!
  • Price
  • Flakey DDR400 support
  • Mildly disappointing overclocking performance

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

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