Soyo's Hostile Takeover!

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Joe’s Review 9/2/99

Skip reviewed the SOYO +III earlier and now I have had the opportunity to play with the same board, giving you a slightly different perspective to consider.

I unpacked the board and started to set it up. The paper manual is not as robust as ABIT puts out but is totally adequate to get the board up and running. There is a full manual on CD. The board comes with the usual stuff (cables, CPU holder etc) so that’s no surprise.

SOYO has designed in some interesting features – there is a little green LED on the top right side of the board that tells you if the power is on…comes in handy when you’re testing the board – you always know when it is on. In addition, the SOYO measures the CPU’s thermal diode temp without any soldering! In my book, using Intel’s thermal diode is a tremendous plus for any motherboard – I got hooked using it with the BX6-2 and would be lost without it. SOYO also gives you lots of bus speeds (see below) and allows you to raise voltage up to 10 % over spec; I don’t know if it’s possible to go over this by flashing the BIOS at a higher voltage setting; maybe some intrepid overclocker will test this one out. Last, you can vary L2 settings in BIOS – neat for fine-tuning and a welcome addition to BIOS. All told, an impressive list of nice-to’s.

Now there are some not so nice things about this board which I would seriously consider before purchasing. The clearance between the slot 1 connector and the first DIMM slot is really slim – about 2 ¼ inches. You can not use the first DIMM slot if you use the ALPHA P3 cooler – too long; same for Tom’s Peltier Heatsink. This miserly spacing contrasts to what now looks like the Grand Canyon on the ABIT BX6-2 – a staggering 3 5/8 inches, enough space for the Alpha P3 and a ham sandwich. You can only vary the voltage by 10%, and for the voltage-challenged CPU this can be a problem, although I personally would not go over 10% long term. Last, I thought the BIOS menu was a little cluttered, but I think that’s being a little picky.

One other thing…If you have a P3, it seems that most motherboard manufacturers do not provide any additional support for the chip. I tried using a plastic insert that I had from a slotket – this insert fits between the sides of the CPU bracket and the CPU’s PCB, neatly filling in the gap between the two. It works fine – only problem is that if you use it for the P3, you can’t use it for the slotket. You would think that these things would come with the motherboard.

STABILITY TEST

I decided to see how stable the board is by using my C266 SL2QG with Tom’s Peltier Heatsink; this combo did 496 stable with the AOpen AX6BC Pro Gold, so I figured let’s use this as a benchmark. I like using the C266 since the multiplier is low enough to allow fairly high bus speeds and the lack of cache chips eliminates this as a variable. I wiped a drive and did a clean boot of Windows 98 no sweat. The configuration is absolutely minimal – PCI video card (no AGP speed issues) and Samsung PC133 ram (thanks to PC Nut for carrying these).

No fooling around – straight to 4×124= 496 MHz with the PCI bus at 31 MHz. Posted OK but not stable (Prime 95) so jacked the voltage 10% and tried again. Well, sorry to say the SOYO did not hold 496 stable under Prime 95 at 2.2 v while the AOpen did. It went on for about 15 minutes and then hung up. The CPU temperature never went above 84 F. I used CAS 3 to see it this was the issue but got the same result 3 other times. I then used 122 and ran into a problem with corrupting the registry, probably due to the higher PCI speed at 122. Screw it – the point was to hit or exceed 496, so I called it a day.

CONCLUSION

This board has a bunch of features that puts it in the forefront of desirable overclocking boards; it also has some features that can be deal killers, most notably the tight spacing and the impact it has on restricting cooling solutions. I was surprised about not holding 496 with the board as SOYO makes good stuff and Skip is no slouch when he attacks a motherboard, but no question that 496 with a Celeron 266 is pushing it – does not take a lot to push it over the edge.

Skip’ Review 7/19/99

UPDATE 7/19/99: I have been notified by a reader that because of the power connector placement, you cannot use a sandwich type cooler on these boards. I did not notice this as I reviewed the board in a Kryotech Renegade. Do beware if you plan on using this type of cooler on this Motherboard.


Review 7/4/99: Just got through playing with a Soyo SY6BA +III Thanks to Humphrey at PCNUT. I have been an Abit fan from the time I started overclocking Intel CPU’s. The BX6R2 has been my all time favorite board. I must say, however, this board has totally changed my way of thinking!

Chocked full of enough FSB speeds to make any overclocker more than happy, CPU Voltage adjustments, and Temperature monitoring of the Internal CPU Diode to boot!! FSB speeds available are: 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 and 155 MHZ Need I say more????? Voltage tweaks are available in increments of 2.5, 5, 7.5 and 10 %. All these settings are available via the Bios to make your tweak experience much more enjoyable.

So far the stability of this board is incredible, I have tried everything I could to make this board fall on it’s face. It has taken everything I threw at it and has come out smelling like a rose! If I can round up some PC133 RAM, I’ll put the Unlocked PII 400 in and try some of the higher Bus speeds. I have tried every speed through 133 and experienced no instability whatsoever.

Conclusion:

Abit has lost it’s throne in this camp. The Soyo SY6BA +III is the clear choice as far as I’m concerned for the King of the single CPU Overclockers board. I have not had the opportunity to try any of the offerings from Aopen, MSI or any of the others. The only drawback I can see with this board is not supporting UDMA 66 which is gaining popularity fast. You can always throw a Promise UDMA 66 card on the board and have your UDMA 66 support.

My hats off to Soyo for their success at defeating Abit as the Ultimate Overclockers Board and doing so at a street price around $110! This board has definitely changed the board I will recommend as the best board for overclocking to all the people who send me email asking which board I recommend.

Skip….

 
This review and comments are just my personal observations and
opinion. As with any products and services, please research throughly
before making any purchases. The reviewer and overclockers.com shall not
and will not be held liable for any damages cause by products reviewed in
this article.


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