Features of the KT600 Dragon Ultra Platinum
- Package and Contents
Soyo packs the entire box full of goodies. The size of the box is identical to boxes that the Chaintech Apogee and Zenith motherboards come in - so you can imagine just how big this mother is. When you unpack you get your motherboard, two user manuals (one for the motherboard, one for the Serial ATA RAID controller), 2xIDE and 1xFDD cable pack, two Serial ATA data and power cables, Driver and Software disk, 5.1 channel audio bracket, I/O panel and the EZ-Box interface unit.
- Layout - High's and Low's
Now we take a look at the motherboard itself. What hits you first is the colour. While few and far between in motherboards, Soyo does put some thought into its colour scheme. The PCB is coloured in a silver shade to resemble as close as you can o platinum and is very effective. The motherboard supports 1 AGP 3.0 slot and 5 PCI slots, which are coloured purple, and while not UV reactive, they do look good under a UV light.
On the component placement side, you have your positive and negatives. The IDE connectors are located behind the three purple DIMM slots, while the FDD connector is placed down below the SATA ports, which makes it rather difficult using full tower cases with high placed FDD. The power port is also in a rather tricky spot. Located between the Northbridge and the I/O panel, this requires you to place the bulky 20pin cables around the CPU, causing some airflow problems around the CPU heatsink.
At the control seat is VIA's KT600 chipset. This chipset was released by VIA to fix the problems and shortcomings of the KT400A series as well at to take on the nForce2 chipset. So far this chipset, despite its lack of Dual Channel memory support, has performed quite well, and at a cheaper price than the nForce2, it is a logical choice.
Paired up with the VT8237 Southbridge, Native Serial ATA RAID functions are added along with standard IDE, 10/100 Ethernet and a new revision AC'97 Audio controller; this Southbridge finally delivers a Southbridge worth having from VIA.
While the Southbridge does support a native 10/100 Ethernet controller, Soyo has given this the boot and pushed towards gigabit Ethernet. The Broadcom Gigabit Ethernet controller is included onboard to give compatibility with Gigabit Ethernet. This chip is also cooled by a passive heatsinks, though it is a mystery why, as this chip doesn't get that hot even under the most stressful network environment.
Despite having Native Serial ATA RAID through the VIA Southbridge, this doesn't seem to be enough for Soyo. The Silicon Image Sil3112A chipset is added to give two additional Serial ATA ports, supporting RAID functions. This means a total of 4 Serial ATA ports are included.
For the Firewire system, the ever true VIA VT6306 Firewire PCI controller chip is used to give three Firewire ports, all supporting full speed 400Mbps transfer rates. This chip was fantastic when it was introduced, and is still one of, if not the best Firewire controllers available today.
Now we come to sound. While VIA has improved on its AC'97 Audio, it is still not able to take on a PCI based controller, due to the strain on the CPU to decode the audio. Soyo has taken the strain off the CPU and included the C-Media CMI8738-MX 6 channel Audio chipset. In the past it has proven to be a very good base quality sound system, with better quality than your AC'97 audio.
The final feature that Soyo gives to you is the EZ-Box. Since the introduction of the Dragon series boards, Soyo has included a form of front panel access system, whether it is a simple Front Access USB port system or a memory card reader, Soyo has done a great job on this front. The new EZ-Box that is supplied comes with memory card reader for MMC/SD/CF/MS forms as well as two USB ports and two Firewire ports. This system is by far a great addition for all your needs.
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