Soyo KT600 Dragon Ultra Platinum Motherboard Review

Don't be fooled, the Athlon XP processor is still going strong despite the release of the expensive and not yet mainstream Athlon 64 processor by AMD. Today we've got the Soyo KT600 Dragon Ultra Platinum motherboard on the test bed which is based on VIA's KT600 chipset for the Athlon XP. If you cannot afford the Athlon 64 platform, pay very close attention to this motherboard!
| Dec 20, 2003 at 11:00 pm CST
Rating: 90%Manufacturer: Soyo

Soyo KT600 - Introduction

IntroductionTo most of us Soyo is a name that doesn't ring many bells. After all, this is a company that doesn't have as many motherboards in its portfolio as the likes of ASUS, ABIT and MSI, but one thing is for sure, the products that we have seen from them have been very impressive.Soyo had a short run of fame with its Dragon series motherboards back when the I845D series chipset was delivered to market. They provided great performance and features, but they were only one version wonders. There were no improvements to be made. If you found a bug, there were no new revisions or extra models for you.It has been some time since we here at TweakTown have had the luxury of testing a Soyo motherboard, in fact it has been over one year since we were lucky enough to see Soyo in our labs. Today we have been blessed with the latest instalment of the Dragon line, the KT600 Dragon Ultra Platinum Edition, the most powerful AMD Athlon XP motherboard in the Soyo arsenal. So come with us if you will and let's take a look at the most recent edition to Soyo's portfolio.

Soyo KT600 - Specifications

Specifications of the KT600 Dragon Ultra PlatinumCPUSupports AMD Athlon 600MHz ~ 1.4GHz PGA462Supports AMD Athlon XP 1500+ ~ 3200+Supports AMD Duron 600Mhz ~ 1.8GHzChipsetVIA KT600 AGPsetVIA KT600 NorthbridgeVIA VT8237 SouthbridgeVIA V-Link @ 533MB/s Bus Frequency100/133/166/200MHz Internal200/266/333/400MHz ExternalAMD EV6 Alpha BusExpansion Slots1 AGP 4x , 8x5 PCIExpansion Ports1 PS2 Keyboard Port1 PS2 Mouse Port8 USB 2.0 Ports (4 rear accessible, 4 via expansion bracket)3 Firewire Ports (1 Rear accessible, 2 via expansion bracket)2 Serial Ports 1 Parallel Port3 Stereo Audio Ports 1 Game Port (via expansion bracket)Special FeaturesBIOS overclocking control of FSB, voltages.Onboard Broadcom Gigabit NetworkingSilicon Image Serial ATAFirewirePCI Hardware Sound

Soyo KT600 - Features

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.

Soyo KT600 - Overclocking

Overclocking of the KT600 Dragon Ultra PlatinumSoyo uses the Award Bios version 6.0 with a Soyo Combo feature menu where all your settings for overclocking are found. Here you can set your system performance optimisations, FSB, AGP/PCI ratio, DRAM ratio, CPU/DRAM/AGP voltages as well as your Serial ATA functions and various other onboard features.First off we will look at your system performance settings. You have three options of Normal, Fast or Turbo.Next you have your CPU Frequency mode. Here you have the pre-determined speeds as well as a manual setting. When set to Manual you can adjust the FSB in 1MHz increments up to a maximum of 300MHz.Next we have your CPU to PCI divider ratio. One disadvantage of the VIA chipset is the inability to lock the PCI/AGP divider ratios. However you can set your divider to either /3, /4 or /5 depending on your CPU FSB speed. A system clock shows you what your new PCI frequency will be before restarting the PC.Now we have your DRAM clock settings. Here you can select either 200/266/333/400Mhz or allow the system to use the SPD of your memory to determine the speed of the RAM.CPU core voltages are very flexible with settings from 1.475v up to 1.85v in 0.025v increments; this is the maximum safe level for AMD CPU's these days. DDR voltage are selectable from 2.5v up to 2.8v in 0.1v increments, this is average settings for an overclockers motherboard these days. AGP voltage settings are adjustable from 1.5v up to 1.8v in 0.1v increments.Using our unlocked AMD Athlon XP 2500+ Barton CPU we managed a FSB of 256MHz, however, pushing above 258MHz the system's PCI bus became unstable. In all we were reasonably pleased with the overclocking options.

Soyo KT600 - Benchmarks - Test System Setup and SiSoft Sandra 2004

Test System SetupProcessor: AMD Athlon XP 2500+ Barton (333MHz FSB)Memory: 2x Kingmax 256MB DDR-433 (Supplied by Kingmax Australia)Hard Disk: Western Digital WD80 7200RPM (Supplied by Techbuy)Graphics Card: ATI Radeon 9700 Pro (Supplied by ATI)Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP1Drivers: ATI Catalyst 3.9SiSoft Sandra 2004SiSoft Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) 2004 is a synthetic windows benchmark that features different tests used to evaluate different PC subsystems.
Here we see the CPU optimisations are well above the nForce2 but as expected due to only a single channel DDR memory controller being used. However it is the most optimised we have seen of any KT600 motherboards.

Soyo KT600 - Benchmarks - PCMark2002 Pro

PCMark2002 ProPCMark2002 is a multipurpose benchmark, suited for benchmarking all kinds of PCs, from laptops to workstations, as well as across multiple Windows operating systems. This easy-to-use benchmark makes professional strength benchmarking software available even to novice users. PCMark2002 consists of a series of tests that represent common tasks in home and office programs. PCMark2002 also covers many additional areas outside the scope of other MadOnion.com benchmarks.With the release of PCMark04, this will be our last review using this benchmark, which has served us well.
Again CPU is faster, but memory is lower.

Soyo KT600 - Benchmarks - 3DMark2001SE

3DMark2001SE3DMark 2001 SE is a part of the popular 3DMark series. By combining DirectX 8.1 support with completely new graphics (including the GeForce4), it continues to provide benchmark results that empower you to make informed hardware assessments.
Again the Soyo takes the honours.

Soyo KT600 - Benchmarks - 3DMark03

3DMark033DMark03 is the latest instalment in the popular 3DMark series. By combining DirectX 9 support with completely new graphics (including the GeForce FX and ATI Radeon 9800), it continues to provide benchmark results that empower you to make informed hardware assessments.Please Note: Due to recent events with the 3DMark03 series, we are adding results purely for those who are still in favor of 3DMark03. These results should not be taken too seriously and are only added for interest sakes.
Again the Soyo takes the honours but not as big a gap as our last tests show.

Soyo KT600 - Benchmarks - Code Creatures

Code CreaturesCode Creatures is a Synthetic benchmark based on Direct X 8 which gives users the chance to see another highly involved benchmark program. Focusing on 2 elements Grass and Water video cards are stressed to the limit resulting in quite low scoring benchmarks. Users get to see a more intensive side of DirectX 8 thanks to the engine behind Code Creatures.
Again Soyo takes a lead.

Soyo KT600 - Benchmarks - Comanche 4

Comanche 4Comanche 4 is a helicopter simulation using the DirectX 8.1 graphics interface. It is used to test the memory and 3D sub systems of a motherboard and video processor. Any weaknesses will show up through this intensive benchmark.
The Soyo KT600 motherboard still continues to dominate the tests.

Soyo KT600 - Benchmarks - Quake 3 Arena

Quake 3 ArenaQuake III Arena is a real-world OpenGL benchmark that we have been using here at TweakTown for quite a while now because it has proven itself to be one of the best gaming benchmarks around to compare a wide range of different products. Quake III is getting very old, but is still the best way of testing video and PC systems for any instabilities and best performance.
It just gets better and better for Soyo.

Soyo KT600 - Benchmarks - Jedi Knight II

Jedi Knight IIJedi Knight II, Jedi Outcast is an OpenGL game that many have been waiting for. It has much improved graphics over its predecessor. It fully supports advanced shaders, as well as very high texture resolutions and effects. There is one demo included in the multi-player section that is good for benchmarking use.
Soyo again wins ahead of the bunch.

Soyo KT600 - Benchmarks - Unreal Tournament 2003

Unreal Tournament 2003Unreal Tournament 2003 continues the success that Unreal Tournament generated as an online game and benchmark. UT2003 pulls all of its weight on to the 3D and Memory subsystems, pushing graphics reality to the maximum is its game, and you need some serious power to gain playable scores with this game.
Finally the last test gives the Soyo a total victory.

Soyo KT600 - Conclusion

ConclusionThis was in fact a total joy for us to test. Soyo, while not having as many varieties of motherboards like the big names, it sure doesn't need them with this first time hit. Designed to run against the biggest names with all the onboard features you will need, it is now becoming hard to justify paying for a name rather than a good product.Soyo's performance and optimisations was top notch, with a resounding victory in all the benchmarks it is hard to put a damper on this product. All the features like Firewire, additional Serial ATA RAID controllers and Gigabit Ethernet with hardware 6 channel sound makes this motherboard one for those who want to overclock without paying for a simple name that doesn't guarantee the fastest or most feature-packed product of its kind.Overall we were greatly impressed with the performance, features and overclocking results with only the two flaws in the FDD connector and the power plug placement we really couldn't put this motherboard down that hard with these results.- ProsFastStableGood overclockingNice colour schemeAdditional SATA portsFirewireGigabit LAN- ConsPlacement of FDD and Power portsRating - 9 out of 10 and TweakTown's Performance Award

Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:26 pm CDT

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