Soyo P4I875P DRAGON 2 Platinum Edition - Page 6

..:: 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 more unique features to the Soyo BIOS, also one of the more confusing aspects, is the Soyo Combo menu.

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 all the way up to 511MHz, an unattainable speed to say the least. 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. As you can see above, we used a setting of .8 as an example. Here, we are running on a 1GHz FSB, while our memory speed remains at 400MHz.

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. However, one unique aspect about this BIOS is the fact that the DRAM voltage settings are 2.7v, 2.8v, and 2.9v. From our tests, the default voltage for this BIOS was 2.9v! Obviously, this board is aimed at the high-end enthusiast and overclocking crowd so memory that can safely handle the voltage and heat generated is a sure necessity. The available AGP voltage options are the usual 1.5 - 1.7v.

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 offered, 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, IDE 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. From personal use with the board, the temperatures that are reported are not accurate, so you’ll want to take them with a grain of salt. Why do I say this? Well, no matter what I was doing, whether the system as idling or under full load for an extended period of time, the BIOS repeatedly reported a temperature of either 45 or 46C, never changing. Hopefully Soyo will be able to address this issue in a future BIOS release.

Overall the BIOS that comes along with the Soyo P4I875P DRAGON 2 “Platinum Edition” is what I had expected. 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 very much 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.

..:: Overclocking Performance ::..

I’ve had several requests to add a small section covering how well the motherboard we review overclocked, so if you ask, you shall receive. As far as FSB overclocking goes, we were far from disappointed at the results we achieved. With the VCore set for 1.50v, and 2.7v for the DRAM, we were able to achieve a solid overclock of a little over 1.1GHz. The best / worst part about this overclock is, the limiting factor in testing ended up being a RAM speed limitation. With some high speed, high quality memory made for overclocking, I do not doubt that a 1.2GHz FSB could quite possibly have been attainable. Clearly though, this board has shown me its prowess for overclocking.