Features and Layout

This content was originally featured on Amdmb.com and has been converted to PC Perspective’s website. Some color changes and flaws may appear.

One area that Soyo has always been strong in is the inclusion of extras in the box with your motherboard. While the motherboard I received was not in a retail format (it came as an engineering sample a while back) the list of what they are offering is quite good. The box is literally packed full of all the things you will need for your motherboard and add-ons. Soyo gives you three 80-pin IDE cables and one floppy cable. There is a dongle that is used for the six-channel audio and they also included a case back plate so you don’t have to worry if your case came with a compatible one or if you can’t find it.

There is also a 3.5” part that comes with a 5.25” bay converter that gives you four USB 2.0 ports on the front of the case. This device comes in very handy for anyone who doesn’t have a case with this features built into it. Soyo has included software Norton Antivirus and Ghost 2002, plus a few more.

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The motherboard itself has a good layout and has decent room for all the components. The edges of the PCB are actually rounded, something that we have also seen on Shuttle motherboards, that makes them appear at least to be better quality and perhaps a little safer. Anyone that has gotten a PCB cut will understand what I am referring too. 🙂

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The processor socket is located with enough space around it to allow for nearly all the heatsinks we have seen to fit. And, the capacitors that surround the socket (and this is very common on current motherboards) actually leave a space open where the rear heatsink clip needs pressure to connect. It’s kind of like a gap for a finger to fit in when installing the heatsink. The memory slots are to the immediate right of the processor, and are a bit tight in proximity. Installing the heatsink with the memory installed is not a good idea for this motherboard if you have memory in the third slot (which is closest to the CPU socket).

The KT333 north bridge has a nice high quality fan and heatsink on it. While you can get better offerings, including the Vantec Iceberq, the stock Soyo one should do fairly well for front-side bus overclocking. To the left of the north bridge is the ATX power connector that is set up against the audio connectors. In this placement it would be possible for the power cable to interfere with the processor heatsink fan – and that of course would be trouble. However, a simple cable tie or fan guard would fix the problem permanently.

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The slot configuration gives the user 1 AGP Pro slot with the 4-pin power connector as well as 5 PCI slots. There is no AGP retention clip, as I would have expected to find on this motherboard, but with the AGP Pro slot, finding room or getting one that worked well with both cards might have been a problem for Soyo. And, yes, there are only 5 PCI slots – but with the features that Soyo has included on the board, this isn’t any kind of problem that should turn prospective buyers away.

Soyo has included a good 6-channel PCI audio solution on the Dragon Ultra motherboard that includes optical and RCA outputs and is actually very good quality and sounds very nice. Very high-end gamers and audiophiles will probably still want to get another audio card, but for most DIY users, what Soyo has provided will be more than sufficient. Also, Soyo has included a 10/100 network interface on the motherboard, powered by Realtek chipset. This is why Soyo chose to include a back plate for the case.

The primary IDE channels are located about half way up the board on the right hand side next to the memory slots. Having them here gives you the best chance of not having to buy longer IDE cables if you should have a large case. The IDE RAID channel connectors as just below them as is the floppy channel connector.

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Finally, at the very bottom of the board you have the USB 2.0 connectors (2 of them) and the connector for additional USB 1.1 connectors. There are also options for SmartCard readers to be attached to this Dragon motherboard via plugs on the bottom. Soyo did include these readers with the KT266 and KT266A Dragons, and I am sure they are still available.

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