Soyo SY-6BA+III Motherboard Evaluation

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Test Results

Visual Inspection

The SY-6BA+ III is an ATX form factor board that is nicely laid out. It does not, however, sport the PC99 color coded connectors that some of the newest motherboards have. The IDE and floppy connectors are located near the drive bays, allowing the cables to be shorter and kept out of the main airflow in the case. There are three jumpers on the board – JP5 to clear CMOS, JP10 to enable power-on-by-keyboard and JP8 which connects to the B21 pin of the processor. By jumpering JP8, it is possible to unlock additional multiplier settings on some processors by fooling it into thinking it is running at 66MHz FSB. This is a very nice feature for overclockers.

There are 5 PCI and 2 ISA slots (one shared), and an AGP slot. The layout should allow all slots to take full-length cards without any problems at all. An SBLINK header is also included behind PCI slot 2, for those who might have need for it. With 4 DIMM slots, it is possible to install a full 1GB of SDRAM, though we tested it with ‘only’ 512MB.

The BIOS offers quite an amazing set of choices for the FSB setting when the ‘Manual’ option is used, too many to list here without taking up unnecessary space (refer to the specs page for the complete list). In addition, the core voltage can be adjusted up by as much as 10% in 2.5% intervals. The PCI frequency is set to 1/2 of the host bus frequency for 66MHz through 83MHz FSB, 1/3 the host bus for 90MHz through 124MHz FSB, and 1/4 the host bus for 124MHz through 155MHz FSB. The AGP frequency can be set to either 2/3 of the host bus speed or the same as the host bus (1/1).

Diagnostics

We ran over 50 iterations with both the PHD PCI and PHD Plus cards and did not encounter a single error. This is quite remarkable, and is an example of the high level of engineering Soyo adheres to for their products. What these diagnostics do is to test the signals from all the controllers across the various busses, in conformance to industry standards. If any signal is even slightly skewed, the test will fail. Even the best motherboards will often fail at least one of these tests intermittently, yet this one did not. This indicates that it is very unlikely that you will encounter compatibility issues with expansion cards, and any stability problems will not due to the motherboard.

QuickTech Pro is a software based, system level diagnostic, which tests at a higher level than the PHD cards, and also includes a set of Y2K tests for the BIOS and RTC. Possible tests include processor (CPU and NPU), memory (cache and main memory), hard drives, floppy drives, video, keyboard, parallel and serial ports. Using a set of loopback plugs for the parallel and serial port, we ran the diagnostic for 2 hours (in ‘burn-in’ mode) with all tests selected. There were also no errors reported using this diagnostic. All in all, this is one of the finest motherboards we have tested using these diagnostics

Operating System Support

Our standard stability tests include running several demanding application benchmarks in a ‘burn-in’ mode. For Windows98, that meant Winstone99, 3Dmark99 Max and Quake2 in demo mode, running for at least 4 hours solid. For WindowsNT, we used Winstone99 business and high-end tests in demo mode. Linux was tested simply by running a kernel compile. We also ran a benchmark for OS/2 called ‘SysBench’ several times to stress the system as much as possible.

We were able to run all of these stress tests for the full 8 hours without any problems whatsoever. Generally, Winstone99 will have an error at least once during an 8-hour burn-in simply because it stresses the system so much, particularly because we have it set up to run 100 times before rebooting. As was suggested by the diagsnostics testing, this motherboard exhibited unparalleled stability in all of our tests.

Perfomance Optimizations

We were able to get the best performance by using the following BIOS settings:

Chipset Features Setup

  • SDRAM RAS-to-CAS delay: 2
  • SDRAM RAS Precharge Time: 2
  • SDRAM CAS Latency Time: 2
  • SDRAM Precharge Control: Disabled
  • DRAM Data Integrity Mode: non-ECC
  • System BIOS Cacheable: Disabled
  • Video BIOS Cacheable: Disabled
  • Video RAM Cacheable: Disabled
  • 8-bit I/O Recovery Time: 1
  • 16-bit I/O Recovery Time: 1
  • Passive Release: Enabled
  • Delayed Transaction: Enabled

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