The real draw of the SY-6BA+III is found in a section of the BIOS termed "Soyo Combo Setup," where most important settings are found. Control over FSB, CPU ratio, AGP ratio, core voltage, and hardware monitoring all found in this section. FSB settings of 66 / 75 / 81 / 83 / 90 / 95 / 100 / 105 / 110 / 112 / 113 / 115 / 117 / 118 / 120 / 122 / 124 / 126 / 133 / 135 / 137 / 138 / 140 / 142 / 144 / 150 / 155MHz are all available. That's more than any other board that has made its way into the AnandTech labs and offers incredible flexibility when overclocking a CPU as far as it can go.

Through the use of a 1/4 PCI multiplier when appropriate, the PCI bus speed is automatically kept between 31 and 41 MHz, regardless of the FSB used. Unfortunately, Intel's i440BX is only capable of 2/3 and 1/1 AGP ratios, so the AGP bus may well run out of spec at some of those higher speeds, but the speed is reported in the BIOS, so you'll know exactly how high it is. Another nice touch is the fact that the BIOS will report that a CPU is locked at a particular multiplier upon boot if something else is chosen.

For users of older, unlocked CPU's with PCI video cards, these extraordinarily high bus speeds may be somewhat advantageous. For everyone else, the sheer variety of bus speeds pretty much guarantees that you'll be able to squeeze every last ounce out of your CPU when overclocking. Maybe your Celeron 300A won't quite make it to 4.5 x 100 = 450MHz, just drop down to 4.5 x 95 = 428 MHz. To help with every last bit of overclocking, core voltage can be increased by 2.5%, 5%, 7.5%, and 10%. For a CPU that runs at 2.0V by default, such as all 0.25 micron Intel CPU's, this yields core voltage options of 2.05V, 2.10V, 2.15V, and 2.20V. The rest of the BIOS is the fairly typical Award fare. A specific IRQ can be assigned to a specific PCI slot, SDRAM timing adjusted, etc.

Through all this Soyo's stability remained merely average in nonoverclocked situations. Thanks to voltage tweaking, overclocked stability was somewhat above average, however. That matches it up squarely with the ABIT i440BX boards - perfect for the overclocking gamer, but not quite good enough for a mission critical application. Performance was also about average, within 5% of just about every other i440BX board out there.

The Winbond 83781D hardware monitoring chip has been replaced by the more powerful 83782D chip. This chip adds the ability to read the CPU temperature straight from any 0.25 micron Intel CPU's on die thermal diode for the most accurate temperature readings possible. The chip can also monitor up to two more temperatures, system voltages, and three fan speeds. The reason for "up to two more temperatures" is that the Winbond hardware monitoring chips monitor its own chip temperature and one more through an external thermistor. Unfortunately, Soyo has not included any headers for hooking up such a thermistor, so the SY-6BA+III is really limited to just the CPU and ambient temperatures.

Power management consists of pretty much the standard stuff these days. Wake on LAN and wake on modem ring headers are available to allow the system to power on in the presence of network activity or incoming call. The BIOS can be set to turn on the system at a specific time. The CPU fan can be shut off when the system suspends to quiet things down a bit. ACPI support is built into the BIOS for added power management under an ACPI compliant OS like Windows 98 or Windows 2000. The system can be configured to power on via hot key or mouse click as well.

Although lacking details on installing a motherboard, the manual is otherwise pretty good for the experienced user and includes detailed information on all connector pin outs as well as the various BIOS settings. Bundled with the SY-6BA+III (and all newer Soyo boards for that matter) is the "Soyo 3-in-1 Bonus Pack," which includes full versions of Norton AntiVirus, Norton Ghost, and Norton Virtual Drive. Ghost is useful for backing up, imaging, or cloning a hard drive. Virtual Drive is designed to make an image of a CD on your hard drive for ultra fast access without the CD. The included AntiVirus and Virtual Drive are both Win9x only utilities. Soyo's own CD is a generic one for all their boards, and as such includes a variety of drivers for Windows 9x, NT, and even Unix. Hardware monitoring software is provided in the form of Intel LANdesk Client Manager (LDCM).

Index The Bad

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