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Soyo KT333 Dragon Ultra Platinum Edition Review - Features

Soyo have been rising through the motherboard ranks like a thief in the night. One minute you've never heard of them, the next thing their name is everywhere and it's good things we are hearing about the Taiwanese company. Today Cameron "Sov" Johnson takes a look at the feature-packed, KT333 powered Dragon Ultra Platinum Edition motherboard from Soyo for the AMD Athlon platform.

| Editorials in Motherboards | Posted: Jul 22, 2002 4:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 10.%Manufacturer: Soyo

Soyo KT333 Dragon Ultra Platinum Features

 

Layout

 

 

Layout wise, Soyo's KT333 Dragon Ultra and Ultra Platinum are identical. Both boards use a 1/5/0 (AGP/PCI/Riser) layout with those purple PCI slots. This board is more eye candy than the original Ultra board designed with new "Platinum" colored PCB - It makes this board a great addition to your modded cases and neon machines.

 

On the technical side, the placement of come components and connectors could have been a trifle better. For instance, the power connector is located below and to the right of the CPU socket. This means that the 20 pin ATX connector will have to go across the CPU and reduce the air flow around the CPU heatsink. The floppy disk connector is also located in a particularly bad spot down the bottom of the board next to the Aux IDE connectors for the RAID which makes installing a floppy disk drive into those hard to get at Full Tower ATX cases a very messy affair.

 

Chipset

 

 

Being an AMD solution, and being that the KT333 at the present time is the best AMD platform available, Soyo have wisely decided to use the VIA KT333 chipset and VT8233A southbridge combo. Using the CE revision of the Northbridge, this chip is supposed to be able to clock very well according to VIA themselves. Soyo have used a Platinum colored Northbridge fan to add to the Platinum affect.

 

Highpoint RAID - Fast becoming a Standard

 

 

RAID on enthusiast motherboards is simply a must nowadays in order to attract the crowds. Soyo have added the Highpoint HPT372 RAID controller to this board. Being featured on most of Soyo's lineup and the original KT333 Dragon Ultra, this controller gives you RAID and ATA mode all in one.

 

USB 2.0 - Not Integrated, Soyo add it

 

 

Since the VT8233A southbridge only supports USB 1.1 ports, and now that USB2.0 is coming into its prime with new devices being released for Hi-Speed USB operations, it's more than important for you to have support for this new technology. Soyo have used the VIA VT6206 USB 2.0 controller to give you four USB 2.0 ports for 480mbps transfers to and from Hi-Speed USB devices.

 

Hardware 6 Channel Audio - C-Media emerges again

 

 

With AC'97 rev 2.2 being introduced to support 6ch software sound, and most motherboard vendors now selecting AC'97 again for 6ch sound its nice to see that Soyo is staying away from the ill fated AC'97 standards. Like the original KT333 Dragon Ultra, the Platinum edition is supplied with C-Media CMI8738 6 channel sound chip with Digital Audio capabilities. Soyo's KT333 Dragon Ultra Platinum ships with an expansion bracket with two RCA ports, two Optical ports and two Stereo ports. These control Digital in and out on the Coaxial and Optical as well as Center/Sub and Surround Sound via the 3.5mm Stereo Jacks. No need to give up the Line in and Mic on the back of the board now.

 

Realtek Networking

 

 

While the VT8233 chipset has its own onboard NIC system, no company to date has chosen to use it. Soyo continues to give hardware options with the Realtek RTL8100B NIC controller.

 

Soyo Combo Box

 

 

Soyo have been shipping bay adapters with their recent boards and this one is no exception. This one does differ from the KT333 Dragon Ultra though. The original Dragon version used a simple four Port USB front panel for putting the USB2.0 ports at the front of the board. The Platinum edition version uses a totally new one. This bay adapter comes with Smart Media, Compact Flash USB reader built in as well as a two port USB hub. Connecting to the green headers on the motherboard this gives you the ultimate in compatibility with Digital Flash media.

 

Overclocking

 

All of the overclocking options on the Soyo KT333 Dragon Ultra Platinum are located in a BIOS menu called the "SOYO Combo Setup". Here you can adjust FSB speeds up to 255MHz in 1MHz increments, multiplier adjustments up to 14x, VCore up to 1.85V, DIMM voltage up to 2.8V and AGP voltage up to 1.8V. On top of this, you can set the CPU:DRAM clock to run at 133/133MHz or in Asynchronous mode at 133/166MHz.

 

All of the necessary memory adjustments are available. These include DRAM Timing, CAS Latency, Bank Interleave, Precharge to Active, Active to Precharge, Active to CMD, Command Rate and so on. With a 1.85V VCore and default DIMM/AGP voltages I was able to overclock my AthlonXP 1800+ (11.5 x 133MHz) to 1815MHz (11 x 165). This is around 286MHz over its default speed and I am very pleased with the overclocking ability of this board.

 

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