Soyo's SYCK8 Dragon Plus Motherboard

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Soyo's SY-CK8 Dragon Plus Motherboard
A New Enthusiast Board for the Athlon 64

By: Jeff Bouton
January 29, 2004

With all of the issues regarding driver optimizations and 3DMark03, we've come to distrust the results when comparing video card performance.  Nonetheless, when doing a motherboard review, we find it to be a useful test when we isolate benchmarking to the CPU test module. 


When compared to the VIA based system, the Soyo aced this test nicely with a 32 point lead over the MSI board, equating to roughly 4%.  When we increased the clock generator to 216MHz, we added an additional 6%, totaling 52 points.

UT2003 & Comanche 4
Gaming Tests

We also tested the two motherboards with a couple of games.  In this case we ran two popular tests, Comanche 4 and UT 2003.  With Comanche 4, an extremely CPU limited application, we ran the default test with "No Audio" selected.  With UT 2003 we set the application to 640x480x16 to take the video card out of the performance picture, focusing on CPU and memory performance.

Comanche4 returned very similar results with both systems since its performance is tightly linked to the CPU.  The Soyo SY-CK8 held the faster performance overall, most likely due to its slightly more aggressive CPU timings.  When we overclocked the processor to 2.21GHz we managed to add a bit more than 5 FPS, a boost of over 7%.  When we shift our focus to UT2003, the Soyo SY-CK8 bested the MSI K8T Neo by 7.92FPS while tacking on an additional 12.96FPS when overclocked.

PC Magazine's Content Creation 2004 and Business Winstone 2004
Real World Application Testing

With our last round of tests we ran both Content Creation Winstone 2004 and Business Winstone 2004.  Each application gauges a system's overall performance with workstation and multimedia applications.  Content Creation 2004 tests multimedia intensive applications, while Business Winstone 2004 compares performance with common workstation applications.  Below is a list of the programs each test uses to calculate its final score.

Content Creation 2004

  • Adobe® Photoshop® 7.0.1

  • Adobe® Premiere® 6.50

  • Macromedia® Director MX 9.0

  • Macromedia® Dreamweaver MX 6.1

  • Microsoft® Windows Media?

  • Encoder 9 Version

  • NewTek's LightWave® 3D 7.5b

  • Steinberg? WaveLab? 4.0f

Business Winstone 2004

  • Microsoft Access 2002

  • Microsoft Excel 2002

  • Microsoft FrontPage 2002

  • Microsoft Outlook 2002

  • Microsoft PowerPoint 2002

  • Microsoft Project 2002

  • Microsoft Word 2002

  • Norton AntiVirus Professional Edition

  • 2003

  • WinZip 8.1

With Content Creation Winstone 2004 the Soyo SY-CK8 Dragon Plus maintained an edge over the K8T800 comparison system, albeit slim.  We did find a slightly wider gain with Business Winstone 2004, with the Soyo Dragon topping the MSI Neo-FISR2 by 1.6 points.

We were generally happy with this motherboard's overall performance, acing every test compared to the VIA K8T800 comparison board.  The onboard features and excellent performance make it a viable option for users looking for an affordable Athlon 64 motherboard.  Component wise, our only real complaint was the lack of Gigabit Ethernet, otherwise, this motherboard has everything you need to build a robust performance machine on a budget.  What is also a plus is that when newer OSs and programs start appearing this year for 64-Bit computing, this motherboard will be able to settle right in and grow with the technology.  However, there is one caveat if this is what you are planning.

In the not too distant future, AMD is going to shift production of their processors so that they are all based on a 939 pin configuration.  This means in the future it will be difficult to upgrade your current 754 PIN processor because there simply will not be any.  It is also worth pointing out that PCI-X is coming soon and early indications are that the added performance should be well worth the wait.

So, in closing, if you are looking to upgrade to the Athlon 64 and want to keep it as affordable as possible, picking up the Soyo SY-CK8 Dragon Plus would be a good choice.  For around $128, the performance and onboard components are quite good and expandability is excellent.  However, if you think there is a chance that you may want to upgrade the processor in the next year, it may be worth holding off until Soyo offers up a model with support for the newer 939 pin array as well as PCI-X, then you'll be sitting pretty.

We give the Soyo SY-CK8 Dragon Plus a Hothardware Heat Meter Rating of a 9

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