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The Layout

Overall I was satisfied with the layout of the previously reviewed P4ISR. While the board was based on a totally different chipset it doesn’t change the fact that a mainboard design should remain rich and clean, especially for Soyo whose main market is high end.

The P4S Dragon Ultra spots 6 purple colored PCI slots, Soyo decided they wanted something unique and different and I must say purple worked out quite well. The P4S also features an AGP PRO slot.

Three DIMM slots supporting DDR333/DDR266 and DDR200 are available for memory expansion. Maximum supported memory is 3GB using un-buffered, double sided DIMM DDR266 or 200 modules. Support for DDR333 requires the use of no more than two un-buffered DDR333 modules.

The IDE RAID connectors and the FDD connector are placed horizontally below the PCI slots 3, 4 and 5; this could result in unpleasant experiences if you will be using larger PCI cards. Soyo made a good move with their decision of the placement of the main IDE connectors; they are placed vertically between the PCI slots 1 and 2 in order to avoid any interference with the PCI cards and IDE cables.

The P4S Dragon Ultra features RAID support via the more advanced Highpoint HPT372 Ultra ATA133 IDE RAID controller supporting RAID 0+1 functions in addition to the standard RAID 0 and 1 used on the Promise RAID controller featured on the previously reviewed SOYO P4ISR and DFI NB72-SR mainboards.

A total of five FAN connectors are available on the P4S Dragon Ultra. Two chassis cooling connectors are present at the bottom of the board, one just lower the Highpoint RAID controller and the other one just two inches further on the left. The third chassis connector is located just above the AGP PRO slot and is used to power the heatsink/fan combo on the SIS645 chip. The two other connectors are CPU fan connections and are vertically placed about an inch and a half to the left of the SIS 645 chip.

Something that I liked about the P4S Dragon Ultra is its use of the C-Media CMI8738 audio chip offering support for a 6 channel audio setup. While you can always use the rear audio connectors of the I/O panel for your standard two channel audio setup, Soyo bundled an external audio module featuring all the necessary digital audio inputs and outputs to fully support a 6 channel environment. The audio module features four digital connections; one optical and one spdif input as well as an optical and spdif output. A center and rear left/right output jacks are present to take advantage of the 6 channel feature. The P4S also features an integrated Ethernet adapter featured on the SIS 961 chip; the RJ45 connector is placed beside the two USB ports on the I/O back panel. A NEC USB 2.0 Controller is present onboard.

A design flaw we have found on the P4S Dragon is the interference between the memory banks and the video card. This little issue has been noticed on several of today motherboards and generally requires removing the video card in order to upgrade the memory.

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