Impressions & Conclusions

Having gone through a barrage of tests and general usage, it would appear that the Soyo SY-KT880 Dragon 2 is slightly slower than the competing nForce 2 Ultra400 from nVIDIA. But the difference in performance not significant enough to stop you from really thinking of buying this motherboard. In fact I consider the Dragon 2 equal to the nForce Ultra400 and is very capable as proven by the decent benchmark results.

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There are many great features that make it a serious contender. It has amazing 7.1 sound and HUGE drive capacity! Being able to throw in up to 12 devices into your case is simply incredible and can save you money in the long run since you no longer have to throw away your old drive just because you’ve run out of drive channels. This is something that nForce 2 motherboards have not been able to match. There are 8 USB connections and 2 firewire which is more than enough for your connectivity needs, but the SY-KT880. Unfortunately, the SY-KT880 does not come with any USB or Firewire brackets to take advantage of the onboard headers. The two dual-channel DIMMs give you more flexibility than the nForce 2 and with greater capacity.

What the Dragon 2 lacks are overclocking features beyond the basic overclocking options. It has the rudimentary voltage, frequency, and memory controls but not much more beyond that. The absence of an AGP lock and no chipset voltage control just don’t make it enticing compared to some of the competition if lots of overclocking options is what you’re looking for. Some argue that 1.85V is enough for Vcore, which is true, but there are still others who look for boards that can support 2.0V or more for some extreme overclocking.

The Dragon 2 will fit well in a work environment too. Features like the Anti-burn Regulator, software fan control, AGP Pro, and a Gigabit LAN make it a good professional workstation that is both quiet, fast, and safe from overheating. The massive support for up to 12 internal drives (4 SATA and 8 IDE) is a huge boon for hosting a lot of data and giving IT managers a very flexible upgrade path.

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At home, it will be a great general-use computer though you can find motherboards that are cheaper without the added expense of fancy audio. If you’re looking for 7.1 audio anyway, this board has it! The real potential of the Soyo SY-KT880 Dragon 2 is in the media PC environment. The 8-channel audio is a great feature without having to dish out extra money for a dedicated 7.1 sound card. With support up to 12 hard drives, you can just imagine how many MP3s and DVD backups you can store! Say goodbye to shuffling all those clamshell cases!

Though there is no Dolby encoding support for analog sources (i.e. DICE) , it doesn’t matter much if you’re listening to audio sources that are already in digital like DVDs. DICE only benefits those listening to multi-channel analog sources and have an external digital audio decoder (i.e. home theatre receiver or computer speakers with digital inputs). If you watch only DVDs and/or don’t have a digital audio system, then DICE is just an added expense.

However, the Soyo SY-KT880 Dragon 2 isn’t without its faults. One is the omission of USB and Firewire brackets to take advantage of the extra onboard USB headers and the two Firewire connections. In this case, you will either have a case that has the appropriate front panel connections or buy the bracket. The capacitors around the socket will cause problems with heatsink installation, especially larger ones. However since this motherboard isn’t exactly the overclocker’s dream, I consider this is a minor gripe.

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Bundled software needs a lot of improvement.

The worst thing about this motherboard is the bundled software. I know many of you don’t even use it if provided, but in this case it’s important to take note because it can actually do harm to your computer. The Wasay suite of software all come undocumented and in the case of the ProMagic Plus software, it actually deleted one of my partitions on my hard drive! This is a major oversight on Soyo’s part. There should have been better software evaluation to protect customers or at least provide documentation so we can make a better decision whether to use the software or not. I’m sure Wasay’s products are fine in their native market (i.e. Asia) where the documentation exists, but here in English speaking markets, the lack of any warnings, cautions, or documentation turns “bonus” software into a serious liability. I truly hope Soyo takes a better look at their software the next time and keep their customer’s investments and data in mind.

For this review, I was hoping to show some Doom 3 performance as well. However, the game would crash about 1 minute into the game. Since the game is still rather young, hardware vendors have not had much time to address any potential issues – it  could be anything from the sound driver, to the USB devices causing the crashes. Our forums are a good place to keep yourself updated if this concerns you. (Email me if you think you know what is causing this. – Jon.)

A Moment on Price, Performance, and Features

Seeing how the Dragon 2 performs essentially the same as the nForce 2 Ultra400, you should expect to pay about the same price depending on the features you want in the competition. So what should you consider when doing a price analysis? The money spent on the Dragon 2 gives you many extras not found on a typical nForce 2 motherboard like:

  • 8-channel audio
  • Both IDE and SATA RAID capabilities (12 devices supported)
  • More flexible memory options (4 banks instead of 3)

For me personally, the price makes it worth the features (7.1 audio with Lord of the Rings DVDs is incredible 🙂 but of course you have to do your own calculations.

For the Enthusiast (not necessarily an overclocker 😉


  • Two dual-channel DIMMs for greater capacity and flexibility
  • 7.1 channel audio with Digital input and output
  • Support up to 12 drives through IDE and SATA
  • Both IDE and SATA RAID
  • 6 fan headers
  • Software fan control
  • 8 USB connections (2 more than typical)


  • No USB or Firewire bracket bundled to connect to onboard headers

For the Overclocker


  • 7.1 channel audio with Digital input and output
  • Two dual-channel memory banks
  • Support of up to
  • Software control over chasis fans
  • 6 fan headers for all those fans


  • Lacks some overclocking features (i.e. chipset voltage control)
  • Cramped socket area may cause problems with larger heatsinks
  • No AGP retention clip (be careful when transporting to the LAN party)
  • No active Northbridge cooling (if you’re looking for that)

For the Home User


  • 7.1 channel audio with Digital input and output (great for the HTPC)
  • Software fan control (though the interface is a little clumsy)
  • Anti-burn Regulator protects your hardware
  • Excellent documentation and web support


  • 1 year warranty (though it is reported Soyo will honor warranty beyond that)
  • May be too expensive for just a general use computer.

For the Professional


  • Support up to 12 internal drives (8 IDE and 4 SATA)
  • Gigabit LAN
  • AGP Pro
  • Anti-burn Regulartor protects your hardware
  • Software fan control for quiet operation
  • Excellent documentation and web support


  • 1 year warranty (though it is reported Soyo will honor warranty beyond that)
  • May be expensive compared to competition (depending on features you require)
  • 7.1 channel audio not necessary

Find some great deals on the Soyo SY-KT880 Dragon 2!

From the Author

I would like to thank Soyo for sending us their latest Socket A motherboard for us to review here at PCPerspective. I hope they take some of my comments to heart and make the improvements where necessary. If you have comments for me, please don’t hesitate to send me an email especially if you have constructive criticism or suggestions. Thank you for reading this review and for visiting PCPerspective.

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