Soyo has been around for 15 years, but they have just recently become known among hardware enthusiasts.  The release of their SY-6BA+III and SY-6BA+IV motherboards running the Intel 440BX chipset last year really helped to put Soyo on the map.  Now, the stability and performance of these boards is well known.

The Athlon series of processors from AMD helped to capture a considerable amount of CPU market, and the release of Durons and Thunderbirds in June took AMD to another level.  With the migration from Slot-A to Socket-A, it was a good time for a “new” chipset.  However, AMD did not do it alone; it got help from VIA.  VIA released the KT133 chipset with the new series of AMD processors.

Since then, a lot of motherboard manufacturers have released their Socket-A / KT133 solution.  Among them is Soyo, who released the SY-K7VTA.    Let’s see if the performance of the SY-K7VTA can surprise us in any way.

Soyo SY-K7VTA

CPU Interface
Socket-A
Chipset
VIA KT133
Form Factor
ATX
Bus Speeds
100 / 102 / 103 / 107 / 110 / 113 / 117 / 120MHz
Voltages Supported
Auto Detect
Memory Slots
3 168-pin DIMM Slots
Expansion Slots

1 AGP Slot
5 PCI Slots (2 Full Length)
1 ISA Slot (1 Shared)
0 CNR Slots

On-board Audio
Sigmatel STAC9744T AC 97 CODEC
BIOS
Award Modular BIOS 6.00PG


The Good

The SY-K7VTA utilizes a moderately sized PCB, though not as large as the ABIT KT7 or the ASUS A7V.  The layout of the PCB is quite “standard,” with most parts sitting where they usually are on most boards.  One thing to notice is that the ATX power supply connector is placed close to the back of the motherboard, next to the ATX I/O shield and a couple of large capacitors.  This means you’ll have to run your ATX power cable over your memory and CPU, potentially cluttering up the case with cables.  Also, by having the power supply connector there, the power cables may affect the cooling of the CPU by blocking airflow.

The VIA 8373 North Bridge sits between the 462-pin Socket-A connector and the AGP slot, which is the core of the KT133 chipset.  It provides all the major features of the KT133, including the 133 MHz memory bus and AGP 4X support.  Just like almost every motherboard in the market today, the AGP slot is a “universal AGP slot,” which means it is not keyed specifically for AGP 2X or AGP 4X cards, so the user can install almost any current AGP card in the slot.

The SY-K7VTA has a memory limit of 1.5GB, which is provided directly by the KT133 chipset in combination with three physical 168-pin SDRAM DIMM slots.  The 8373 memory controller is nice enough to let you run your memory at either 133MHz or 100MHz.  Therefore, users with PC133 SDRAM can take advantage of the increased bandwidth over PC100 SDRAM, going from 800MB/s to 1.06GB/s.

More Good

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