Soyo DRAGON 2 V1.0 Black Label - Page 5

..:: P4I875P DRAGON 2 V1.0 Layout: Southbridge & Memory Area ::..

The bottom right hand corner of the Soyo P4I875P DRAGON 2 V1.0 is easily the busiest area of the PCB being packed with chips, headers, and connectors, yet it is also remarkably well laid out. The first three main items you’ll come across are located along the bottom edge of the PCB around PCI slot number five. Here we come across another white, three-pin fan power connector for use with a chassis fan, or a third party solution heatsink / fan for your graphics card. To the right of this header, wee see two green headers that can be used for USB 2.0 devices support via a header, or the Sigma Box.

Located above these headers, we next come across the two SATA3 and SATA4 connectors that are supported by the ALi SATA RAID Controller chip. The “Platinum Edition” motherboard we reviewed back in 2003 featured a Silicon Image SATA RAID chip, though now it seems Soyo has decided to head down the ALI route, likely a cheaper solution bringing more value to their products. The “Platinum Edition” also originally featured the Highpoint HPT372 chip for support of IDE RAID. This has also been done away with in favor of the all-in-one Ali chip, once again cutting down on cost to the end user. Along the right hand edge of the PCB, we also can see a single, green LED and the front panel header for connecting LED’s, power switches, etc.

As we move up the PCB, we’ll next come across all of the main components and connectors supported by the Intel ICH5-R Southbridge. Along the right edge of the board, we see the white and light blue IDE connectors. The ICH5-R natively supports drives up to ATA/100 specifications, so if you’re utilizing an ATA133 drive you’ll need to use the ALi controlled IDE connectors. The light blue connector is the primary, whilst the white is the secondary. To the left of these IDE connectors, we next come across both of the SATA connectors, along with the white Clear CMOS jumper. Of course, the ICH5-R Southbridge chip, along with the system battery and BIOS chip are located here also.

The last area of the PCB that we’ll be covering today is the area around the DIMM’s. To the right of the DIMM’s we come across the final three-pin power connector for the front chassis fan, along with the floppy connector and the main 12V ATX power connection. Located directly above the ATX power connection there are two headers, one for serial infrared devices, and a second for the smart card reader connection. I like the positioning of these headers as if you plan on utilizing the Sigma Box, the connections are very close in proximity to where it will be installed in an empty bay.

Overall, the layout of the Soyo P4I875P DRAGON 2 V1.0 is very well done, and practically identical to that of the elder “Platinum Edition” model. Quite honestly, I can’t really find much that I dislike about the overall design of the motherboard, a rarity indeed. If there’s one thing that I would like to see changed, it is that I would prefer to see Soyo implement a form of active cooling on the Northbridge, rather than a normal Aluminum heatsink. Granted, this heatsink will do the job nicely, but it is always pleasurable to have a fan helping to cool off the heatsink, especially in overclocking situations.