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Soyo SBA+IV i440BX Motherboard Review

Soyo SBA+IV i440BX Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: Some weeks ago, Soyo was kind enough to provide us with a few of their mainboards for reviewing. One of them being the 6BA+IV. The 6BA+IV is an enhanced Intel 440BX-based motherboard.
 85% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Soyo Jul 30 2000   P. Masrani  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > Soyo SBA+IV

Soyo SBA+IV i440BX Motherboard Review


Some weeks ago, Soyo was kind enough to provide us with a few of their mainboards for reviewing. One of them being the 6BA+IV. The 6BA+IV is an enhanced Intel 440BX-based motherboard.

What sets this apart from most of the BX boards on the market is the presence of an ATA66 controller (courtesy of the Highpoint HPT366 controller chip). As we will come to see in this review, the 6BA+IV offers plenty of features which places it among the best high-end Pentium III/Celeron motherboards available.

As with all BX based motherboards, the only (official) restriction of this board is the support (rather lack of support) for 133MHz bus CPU's. As usual, a bus speed of 133MHz on a BX platform forces you to run your AGP card at an out of spec 89MHz. Nevertheless, the BX chipset is unrivaled in performance as compared to other offerings out there. Is this enough to persuade you into procuring a 6BA+IV? Read on...

The package of the 6BA+ IV contained the following...
- The board itself
- A small manual
- One ATA-66 cable & one ATA-33 cable & one floppy cable
- One CD with motherboard drivers, a full version of the manual in PDF format and a system monitoring utility
- One CD with Norton’s Antivirus, Norton’s Ghost & Virtual drive utilities

The board itself exhibits a very tempting choice of components featuring 4 DIMM slots, 5 PCI slots and 2 ISA slots (1 PCI/ISA shared), 4 IDE channels and 3 Fan connectors. The chipset is covered by a green heatsink attached to the motherboard with spring clips. With respect to its layout, the 6BA+IV sports a clean and organized design. I would like to add that this board is certainly capable of supporting a rather large CPU heatsink for those of you that might be interested in replacing factory included fans/heatsinks.

However, for those of you that still own older ISA-based expansion cards, it may be worthy to note that using full-sized cards will hinder access to the on board switch box. To add an extra dose of stability, Soyo has included 11x 1000µF & 2x1500µF capacitors on the 6BA-IV.

The included manual is not as well documented as I had hoped. With a brief focus on the most important features/sockets/jumpers of the board, Soyo could have done a better job with their printed documentation. Not to fret however as Soyo has included a full version of the manual on their CD. Though Soyo, as with any other company, has implemented cost cutting measure to stay in contention, having a well documented manual is certainly the better way to go. I suppose that some things are still better off on paper than on electronic format. :)

Installation

What we simply adore of BX chipsets, along with any other Intel based platform is the simplicity in the way Intel has designed their drivers. Just a simple execution of driver installation and we were on our way. Of course, before the driver topic even comes up at all, you must set a jumper for 66MHz or 100MHz baseline front side bus operation. Do note that further increase of the FSB can be performed in the BIOS.

Windows 98 has no problems in installing this board and detected the various devices attached in the system with no issues.

Test Bed Setup

In order to benchmark the 6BA+ IV we used the following equipment on all of our tested boards:

- Retail Intel Celeron 400MHz PPGA
- Tested boards : DFI P2XBL, DFI CB61, DFI CA61, DFI CW35E, DFI TA64-B, Soyo 6BA+IV, Soyo 7VCA, Soyo 6VCA

- 128MB PC-100 SDRAM
- 3dfx Voodoo3 3000 AGP
- Western Digital 13000R ATA-66 hard drive
- Orchid Nusound 3D (Aureal Vortex 1 sound card)
- Sony Cdu611 24x cd-rom

Our software setup consisted of...

- Operating system: Windows 98 First Edition, English
- Busmastering drivers: Default Win98 ATA Bus mastering for Intel BX based boards, VIA 4 in 1 4.19 drivers for all VIA chipset based boards, Intel 810 latest drivers for the CW35E
- Video drivers: 3dfx 1.04.00, default driver settings, Vsync disabled, Quake 3 scores were taken with latest Metabyte Wicked3D MiniGL driver
- Sound drivers: Latest Aureal Vortex 1 drivers
- BIOS: Latest Bios for every motherboard, all settings were optimized for best performance
- Quake3 options: Normal Graphics quality, low sound quality and all the other default options, demo001 benchmarked at 640x480

On the Soyo 6VCA & Soyo 7VCA we enabled the HOSTCLK + 33MHz memory clock speed option. What this means is that the memory was set at 100MHz, while processor bus speed was operational at 66MHz. On the DFI TA64-B enabling this setting resulted in stability problems and we were forced not to use it. The DFI CA61 did not have this option available at all. DFI's CW35E (i810E based board) does support an asynchronous memory speed.

The important thing to note is that the Intel BX based motherboards here do not support the above feature. Motherboards which do take advantage of an asynchronous memory clock (running the memory at 100MHz while having the actual bus clocked in at 66MHz) do have a performance advantage when using 66MHz memory bus CPU's (all Celeron processors).

Hence, memory bandwidth is increased by 50% in such instances. With 100MHz bus processors, the memory advantage of this particular feature is at most 33% (133MHz v/s 100Mhz). This memory performance advantage could be very small (on most business applications) or quite large (on memory bandwidth intensive games like Quake 3). In the graphs that will follow, do note that HCLK represents the default memory speed of 66MHz HCLK+33MHz translates into 100MHz. On the Soyo 6VCA & Soyo 7VCA we enabled the HOSTCLK + 33MHz memory clock speed option.

What this means is that the memory bus was set at 100MHz , while processor bus speed was operational at 66MHz. On the DFI TA64-B, enabling this option resulted in stability problems and we were forced not to use it. The DFI CA61 did not have this option available at all. All BIOS settings were tweaked for maximum performance on all of the tested boards. Boards equipped with an AC97 audio CODEC had the CODEC disabled and an Orchid Nusound PCI soundcard was used.

With regard to Quake3 benchmarks, these scores are affected a lot by the speed of your processor and 3D accelerator and not so much by your motherboard. So if your scores are lower or higher than the reported in this test then this doesn't mean your motherboard is worse or better than the tested boards.

© 2017 PCSTATS.com Next Page >

 

Contents of Article: Soyo SBA+IV
 Pg 1.  — Soyo SBA+IV i440BX Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  Winstone Performance
 Pg 3.  Overclocking and Conclusion

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