| about us | advertise | careers | links |

[an error occurred while processing this directive]


Soyo SY-6BA+IV i440BX ATX

Sadly the BX chipset is getting long in the tooth and weíll all be making our future purchasing decisions on boards that will feature either Intelís new i810/15/20 chipsets and VIAís new 133 chipsets. While the BX has soldiered on for quite some time it is beginning to lack luster due to features being released with these newer chipsets. But that doesnít mean that BX boards canít hold their own against these new chipsets. Far from it. Testing by many sites has shown that the BX chipset handles memory usage much more efficiently than the new chipsets from Intel and BX boards continue to beat VIAís offerings (though VIA is making fast improvements).

Soyo has made great efforts in creating some quality boards as of late. Soyoís 6BA series of boards have steadily improved and the latest offering, the +IV, stands neck and neck with Abitís venerable boards. Thatís quite an accomplishment since Abit boards are known not only for their quality but also their overclocking ability.

First Impressions:

Features
The Motherboard
  • ATX form factor
  • Supports Pentium II/III and Celeron
  • 4 SDRAM DIMM sockets
  • 5PCI, 2 ISA (1 shared), and 1 AGP slot
  • Two UltraDMA 33 Ports
  • Two UltraDMA 66 Ports
  • 2 USB ports
  • FSB speeds: 66/ 75/ 81/ 83/ 90/ 95/ 100/ 105/ 110/ 112/ 113/ 115/ 117/ 118/ 120/ 122/ 124/ 126/ 133/ 135/ 137/ 138/ 140/ 142/ 144/ 150/ 155

When I slid the +IV out of its protective bag I noticed that it was slightly narrower than many of the other ATX boards Iíve come across. At the upper right corner of the board is a green LED. This will let you know if the board is receiving power and will eliminate a couple of steps should you have to troubleshoot any problems with the initial bootup. Immediately obvious was that this board features two ATA33 connector ports and two ATA66 connector ports. That gives this board the ability to support a total of eight devices. These connectors are located together at the right edge of the board making cable routing once installed in a case a cinch. The ATX power connector is located behind the CPU socket so there is no problem with it interfering with large heatsinks. Also included with this board were a skimpy manual and an ATA66 ribbon cable along with the normal floppy ribbon cable.

One flaw that immediately became obvious was that the 4 DIMM slots are located very close to the CPU socket. I would have liked to have tested with a larger heatsink but found that the GlobalWin CPM-32 I used already came very close to the first DIMM socket. A large Pentium II/III HSF or large socket-370 heatsink will definitely cover the first DIMM socket and possibly two sockets. The combined narrowness of this board and the placement of the ATA connectors meant that the DIMM sockets are too close to the CPU socket for my taste.

Installation:

I used the Landmark KS-299 case for installation of this board. This case is a large mid-tower and is quite deep. This usually helps when Iím mounting wide boards but that was definitely not needed with a narrow board like the +IV.

I found that the connector ports for the ATA33 and ATA66 are numbered strangely. From left to right they are 2, 1, 3, and 4. You can use connectors 3 and 4 (ATA66 connectors) to boot your HD by selecting a boot sequence in the BIOS that allows SCSI to boot first. While this seems odd this has to do with the ATA66 controller on the board being recognized as a SCSI device during initial bootup.

I installed a Celeron 366 with the use of an Abit SlotKet and the GlobalWin CPM-32 HSF that I mentioned before. A word of caution: be certain to seat the SlotKet or CPU firmly into the CPU socket. My first attempt felt right but upon startup, and after some troubleshooting, it was discovered that the CPU indeed was slightly out of the socket. Normally I would use the troubleshooting area in the supplied manual with a board if something like this popped up. Unfortunately Soyoís manual only offered setup instructions and no troubleshooting tips. Abit packs a very good manual with their boards and I think other manufacturers should look at Abitís manuals as the standard they should deliver their boards with. The full manual is available on the supplied CD in a .pdf format. While that allows a large amount of info to be viewed from one file it did me no good while the system was not running.

The socket on this board features a plastic support that is designed to help support a Pentium II/III CPU by the use of their plastic shell. The SlotKet doesnít have that type of covering so it did not support the CPU as I would have liked. Abit boards also feature a similar support Ė but the one they use works well with their own SlotKet. Iím not sure if the CPU backed out due to the lack of support or if I simply didnít install it deep enough in the first place. This is a minor area of concern unless you decide to mount a very large and heavy heatsink on your socketed CPU (or unshrouded PII/III).

Once I figured out my mistake with the CPU I entered the BIOS and went ahead and overclocked the CPU to the 550 MHz I normally run it at. I normally run this CPU at 2.1 volts. I had to do a little math to figure out that I needed to use 5.0% extra voltage to achieve 2.1 volts. Iíd rather see voltages set with number values but Soyo does offer a good set of voltages to use for overclocking. I setup the rest of the settings I normally use and went ahead and began working with this board. This is one area where Soyo has really done a great job. I didnít have to touch a single jumper on this motherboard as all the adjustments were made from within the BIOS a la ABIT SoftBIOS. Most importantly, I noticed no unusual problems with this board while running several different applications.

One thing to take note with this board is the large amount of FSBs available. Of special note to Coppermine overclockers is the amount of available settings between 100 and 133 and the ability to run as high as 155 MHz. Celeron users will equally enjoy being able to use the FSBs between 100 and 133. Having both a 112 and 113 setting and a 117 and 118 setting will allow Celeron users to max out their CPU. The PCI bus is automatically set by the BIOS to a setting between 30 MHz and 41 MHz depending on the FSB you select.

Pros:

  • On board ATA33 and 66 support (8 total)
  • Large amount of available FSBs
  • Green LED lets you know if you have powe r to the board
  • Rock solid stability
  • Soft BIOS adjustment

Cons:

  • The first two memory slots are covered by large heatsinks
  • A better manual with troubleshooting tips would be a nice improvement
  • The built in support on the CPU socket doesnít work with slocket adapters

Conclusions:

This is a great board and so my gripes are actually all minor ones. The biggest problem that I can see with this board is the placement of the DIMM sockets so close to the CPU socket. This means anyone using a large heatsink will have to give up two DIMM sockets. Depending on your memory configuration that may turn out to be a big problem. I was able to work around the small problem I encountered with the CPU support system. With care that shouldnít give anyone more difficulty than I had. I recommend this board to anyone who is looking for a top-notch BX board and especially to those who will be overclocking their CPU. This board is retailing for approx. $140. This MB supports CPU temp reading through the onboard monitoring available on Celeron, Pentium II, and Pentium III chips. Consider setting up some sort of external temp monitor if you will be using a PPGA of FC-PGA processor and your slocket does not support the on chip temp monitoring. Depending on the slocket adapter you use to adapt a PPGA or FC-PGA CPU to this board you may not have the on board temperature sensing connected. This is by a design fault of the slocket itself, as was my Abit unit. It is my understanding that the AOpen and MSI 6905 slockets will both give accurate temperature readings from the on-die CPU temperature sensor when used with a PPGA or FC-PGA processor.

Victor Oshiro
00/02/20





Web Target PC




 

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Contact us | About us | Advertise
Copyright © 1999-2007 TargetPC.com. All rights reserved. Privacy information.


targetpc