Soyo P4S Dragon Ultra SiS 645 socket 478

Tuesday, January 29, 2002


Soyo has always prided itself at being quick to update its product-lines when technologies change. So far, they've never been one to lag behind the times - a trend they've aimed to follow with the introduction of the Soyo P4S Dragon Ultra.

The P4S Dragon Ultra is an impressive example of its species. Until now, most Pentium 4 boards have been relatively lacking in Overclocking ability. This beast, however, comes equipped with a vast array of such tweaking functions, as well as an ATA133 RAID controller, a 6-line out C-Media audio-card, 4 USB ports, support for DDR333 memory, and an integrated 10/100Base-T Ethernet controller.

Clearly, this is a board worthy of attention. So let's say we skip the preliminaries, and lean-in for a closer look...

Characteristics of the Soyo P4S Dragon Ultra
Supports Intel ® Socket-478 Pentium 4.
SiS 645/961 chipsett
Form factor
ATX 30.5cm 23cm
6 PCI - 0 ISA - 1 CNR - 1 AGP Pro - 6 USB
3X 184-pin DIMM sockets DDR SDRAM slots for up to 3GB
of DDR200, DDR266 or DDR333 memory.
100Mhz ˆ 255Mhz in steps of 1Mhz
Vcore adj.
1.1v to 1.85v in steps of 0.025
Vio adj.
2.6v to 3.5v in steps of 0.1v
Audio chipset
C-Media CMI8738


The P4S Dragon Plus's sound capabilities are provided by an integrated C-Media CMI8738 audio-chip. The CMI8738 supports 5.1 speaker-configurations, with 4 to 6 lines-out, including a central base-line.

As part of its standard equipment, the Dragon Plus also includes the ability to treat incoming and outgoing digital & SPDIF signals via optical fiber connectors, or gold-plated RCA jacks.

From a sound standpoint, the C-Media¨ CMI8738 has very little to envy of other audio-chips. It supports up to 32 polyphonic voices, EAX effects, and supports both Microsoft DirectSound 3D, and Aureal A3D.

As we've mentioned before, the CMI8738 is head and shoulders above the audio circuitry that is typically included as part of most VIA chipsets, and its sound reproduction is simply excellent. Whether you're playing MP3s, CDs, or 3D games, the CMI8738's sound quality will often surprise you with its fidelity.

The configuration

Configuration of the P4S Dragon Ultra is a jumperless affair. The only on-board Dip-switch array worth speaking of is CJ1. For its part, CJ1 can be used to tweak the FSB frequency, the PCI bus, the AGP bus, and the rate of communication between the North and South bridges. Most users will be pleased to note however, that CJ1's functionality is accurately reproduced within the BIOS.

Within the "Soyo Combo Features" menu, for instance, a function exists allowing the clock-multiplier to be set to between 8X and 23X (Of course, this feature is of limited value, as most Intel CPUs come equipped with internal multiplier locks).

Another function allows users to set the Vcore voltage to any of the values indicated in the table above.

The DDR voltage can also be set to between 2.6v and 3.5v and steps of 0.1v while the AGP voltage can be incremented to between 1.6v and 1.7v in steps of 0.1v.

A function by the name of CPU:DRAM Clock Ratio also allows users to input an operating ratio between the FSB frequency and memory bus of 1:1, 3:4, or 3:5.

Finally, a number of memory timing values can also be tweaked from within the confines of the "Soyo Combo Features" menu, and the "Advanced Dram Control" item in particular. Once there, tweakers will have the option to adjust a vast array of values, including no fewer than 15 parameters.


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