Soyo SY-6IBM i440BX microATX Rage 128VRby Mike Andrawes on August 26, 1999 2:26 AM EST
- Posted in
Integrated video on a motherboard is not something often associated with high performance. With the introduction of the i810 from Intel, we finally have a base line chipset with complete 3D acceleration - no more ViRGE level chips should find their way into systems. It's still not really "high performance" but at least we're progressing to a point where anybody buying a cheap store bought system should at least be able to play the latest games.
Since the i810 features video integrated directly into the chipset at such a low cost, the bar has been raised for more expensive external video chipsets. That means the Rage Pro Turbo that we're used to seeing on motherboards may shortly be disappearing, and it's about time. It's replacement? For Soyo, it's the pin compatible Rage 128VR featured on their SY-6IBM.
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The SY-6IBM's big claim to fame is its onboard ATI Rage 128VR, which finally brings semi-competitive 3D acceleration to the integrated motherboard market. The only other motherboard AnandTech has tested to date with comparable 3D capabilities is Intel's SR440BX with its integrated 16MB SDRAM NVIDIA RIVA TNT. Just like the SR440BX, the SY-6IBM is a microATX i440BX Slot-1 solution. It features a 3/1/0 (PCI/ISA/AGP) slot configuration and 3 DIMM slots for memory expansion.
The onboard Rage 128VR differs from the Rage 128GL featured on cards like the ATI Rage Fury in that the VR only supports a 64-bit memory interface (as opposed to the 128-bit of the GL). The "128" in the name is still applicable since the core is essentially the same 128-bit core as the full blown 128GL. The big advantage of the Rage 128VR, at least for motherboard manufacturers, is that it is pin compatible with the older, cheaper Rage Pro Turbo. Thus, one board design can serve two slightly different markets and Soyo has in fact chosen this path, producing the SY-6IBM with either chip.
AnandTech's evaluation sample featured the Rage 128VR with 8MB SDRAM with the core operating at 90MHz and the memory at 100MHz. This is lower than the 105/105 that retail Rage Fury's ship at, but the same as most OEM versions. The chip itself is cooled by a small green heatsink, slightly smaller than the one shipping on retail Rage 128 cards. The drivers on the Soyo CD are quite old, so you'll want to grab the latest from ATI. The same Rage 128 drivers work on both VR and GL versions of the chip.
A Yamaha YMF740 chip handles PCI sound duties and completes the fully integrated setup Soyo is looking for. There's no 3D sound support, but for standard 2D audio, it gets the job done with low CPU utilization and little background noise. The Yamaha sound can easily be disabled from within the Award BIOS setup.
The ATX specification is also closely followed with all major components strategically placed to minimize cable clutter and provide the most room to work around the board. All HDD/FDD connectors are located where they should be, right at the front of the board, so that no cables are forced to run over the CPU and/or memory. The ATX power connector is right behind the DIMM slots, but still far enough forward to allow adequate air flow over the CPU from the power supply. Without any color coded connectors anywhere on the board, this may be one of the last you'll find with straight up black connectors throughout. The board is an average sized microATX and should fit fine in any microATX or ATX case.