Athlon64 Boards Found Lagging in Memory Support

Soyo CK8 Dragon Plus

Board Revision: 1.0

BIOS Version: CK8-2BA1R (11/12/2003)

CK8 Dragon Plus refers to the development name of the nForce3 chipset, which is called "Crush K8". In contrast to the board from Abit, the Soyo board is simpler and concentrates on the basics.

This doesn't mean false savings have been made; with a sound system, network controller and two SATA ports, all the key elements are included - the only thing that's missing is FireWire connections.

The sparse equipment also boosts its ergonomics qualities, and so the CK8 manages without fans on the nForce3 chip. All connections - from the CD-in, the optional gameport and the ATA ports, are located on the edge of the board, so that at least four of the six PCI slots can be equipped with long plug-in modules. Unfortunately, the cooling element on the nForce3 itself hampers use of the first two slots.

The cost-cutting measures have a negative effect when it comes to accessories, as there is nothing else in the packet apart from the essential cables. Of course, this does not apply to the software, as the customer also obtains Symantec Anti Virus, Ghost and Personal Firewall 2003 in addition to the obligatory driver CD.

We also missed support for Cool & Quiet; although Soyo is no exception in this respect as only Asus and MSI have offered this.

The fast mode in the BIOS increases the clock speed of the HyperTransport by 2 MHz, and the turbo mode by 5 MHz. We therefore tested the board in "normal" mode. Then the Athlon64 was also operated according to the specifications with 2000.0 MHz HyperTransport clock pulse. The performance figures for the CK8 Dragon Plus are good for an nForce3 system.

Soyo manages without a Northbridge fan, which is a basic requirement for a quiet system.