Soyo DRAGON 2 V1.0 Black Label - Page 6

..:: P4I875P DRAGON 2 V1.0 System BIOS ::..

For the BIOS, Soyo has opted to go with the usual streamlined layout that we are accustomed to seeing with any of the modern Phoenix BIOS’. When you enter the BIOS, you’ll come across all of those usual options such as Standard CMOS Features, Advanced BIOS Features, Advanced Chipset Features, Integrated Peripherals, Power Management Setup, PnP/PCI Configurations, PC Health Status, and all of the Default Settings, etc. One of the ore unique features to the Soyo BIOS, also one of the more confusing aspects, is the Soyo Combo menu. This BIOS is, for all intents and purposes, identical to that of the earlier “Platinum Edition.”

We’ll start things of today with the Soyo Combo menu to see why it is one of the more confusing areas of the BIOS. When you enter this menu, you will be shown a lengthy listing of available options, the first of those being system performance. Here, you are given three options, Turbo being the highest, that will determine internal settings for added performance. Below, you will have the ability to adjust the FSB of the system to some unattainable level; nevertheless Soyo gives you all the headroom you’ll need to overclock the P4I875P DRAGON 2 V1.0. There is also an option that offers the user that ability to set the PCI and AGP clocks, independent of the FSB. As you can see, we chose to utilize the stock 33MHz / 66MHz setting for our testing purposes. Lastly for this portion, we come across the multiplier used to determine the DRAM clock based on the FSB. Soyo allows for adjustment levels of .8, 1.0, and 1.5 for these ratios.

The next major items that are displayed in the Soyo Combo menu detail the various voltage settings for the system. The VCore is able to attain voltages up to 1.600v in the usual .025v increments. The available VDIMM settings fall in the typical enthusiast board range, from the stock 2.70V up to 2.90V. We noted in our initial review of the “Platinum Edition” board that it defaulted to a VDIMM of 2.90V, although this revision does not act in the same manner. The available AGP voltage options are also the typical settings that can be found on all enthusiast and mid-range products, ranging from 1.50V to 1.70V.

Finally, we come across the portion of the Soyo Combo menu that might be rather confusing to some. We next come across four sub-menus, the first belonging to the advanced DRAM settings. This is where the user will need to go to manually adjust the various memory timings that are offers, such as the CAS latency, RAS to CAS, etc. The next sub-menu is actually a listing of the main peripherals that are built-in to the board, such as the LAN controller, RAID, etc. Normally we would see these settings located within the Integrated Peripherals menu. Another sub-menu allows the user to adjust whether or not they want support for IDE, SATA, or both, along with the boot order from the various devices. Lastly, we have the boot device order selection. This is yet another feature I would have expected to see located in a different menu. Now, I much do like that fact that Soyo has chosen to add all of the main settings a user will be interested in to one window, however for the less experienced users it may seem rather scattered as integrated peripheral data is seemingly located in two area of the BIOS, which could quite easily cause some confusion.

Given that the Soyo Combo portion of the BIOS features all of the main settings, the only remaining window within the BIOS that we’ll be giving a quick go-over is the PC Health Status menu. Here we have the ability to check the system temperatures, RPM readings, and voltage readings. We noted back with our original review of the “Platinum Edition” that this BIOS would repeatedly report the same temperature for the processor whether under load, idling, or sleep mode. Luckily, it seems that this issue has been address with the latest version of this board, as we did not experience this problem as we had in the past.

Overall the BIOS that comes along with the Soyo P4I875P DRAGON 2 V1.0 is what I had expected, a simple update to a solid BIOS. I would have preferred to see a little more memory timing tweaks available, but given the three system performance settings, this is already addressed, just not by the individual user. The overclocking options and system voltages provided are robust enough for any user to take their chip to the max, especially given the available DRAM voltages. Since users will be limited to overclocking via the FSB, it only makes sense to offer higher DRAM voltages to get every last MHz out of your RAM. Although I personally like the Soyo Combo menu and it’s re-location of the main settings that a user would adjust, it still makes things appear scattered, and might cause some confusion for those who are unfamiliar with such a BIOS layout. The best fact about this BIOS is that the major issues we noted in the past have all since been addressed, making it a more solid solution.

..:: P4I875P DRAGON 2 V1.0 Overclocking ::..

Our overclocking results were much in line with what we saw in the past. With our “Platinum Edition” motherboard, we were able to stabilize the system around the 1.1GHz mark, whereas this time around we only made it to roughly 1050MHz, not too much of a difference. Our general benchmark for a solid overclocking motherboard falls around the 1.0GHz FSB mark, which the DRAGON 2 V1.0 passes. We were hoping to see improved overclocking capabilities over the older “Platinum Edition” although given that we were running a 3.2GHz “Prescott” processor, quite a bit more current draw was heading towards the processor adding to the heat and lessening overclocking capabilities for the core. Overall, the DRAGON 2 V1.0 is a solid overclocking solution, although we’ve seen better as of late in the Chaintech A865PE.