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Soyo's SY-P4I875P DRAGON 2 motherboard

Storage galore

Platinum Edition
Price (street)US$188

DESPITE THE FACT that everyone and his mother seems to be making Canterwood-based Pentium 4 motherboards, manufacturers are still finding ways to keep their products unique. Canterwood boards generally share the same core feature list, but mobo makers have kept offerings fresh by mixing and matching bold new aesthetics, integrated 7.1-channel audio, additional storage features, extreme overclocking options, and bountiful bundles filled with all sorts of useful extras. So much for motherboards based on the same core logic chipset all being the same. Each manufacturer's take on the 875P has actually been pretty interesting thus far.

So what's interesting about Soyo's SY-P4I875P DRAGON 2 Platinum Edition, beyond its long-winded and over-capitalized name? Try a total of three different on-board RAID controllers. The DRAGON 2 Platinum Edition also includes a hefty bundle of extra goodies and a funky aesthetic that makes it easy to pick out in a crowd. Of course, integrated peripherals and bundled extras are only valuable when they're not sitting idle, and peoples' definitions of aesthetically pleasing are often very different.

Today we'll be running the SY-P4I875P DRAGON 2 Platinum Edition through its paces against a handful of Canterwood- and Springdale-based motherboards. Does it have the goods to compete? Read on to find out.

The specs
To start things off, let's take a peek at the SY-P4I875P DRAGON 2 Platinum Edition's spec sheet:

CPU supportSocket 478-based Intel Pentium 4 processors (1.6V and below only)
Form factorATX
ChipsetIntel "Canterwood" 875P
North bridgeIntel 875P
South bridgeIntel ICH5R
InterconnectIntel Accelerated Hub (266MB/sec)
PCI slots5 32-bit/33MHz
AGP slots1, 4X/8X AGP 8X (1.5V only)
AMR/CNR slotsNone
Memory4 184-pin DIMM sockets
Maximum of 4GB of DDR400/333/266 SDRAM with ECC
Storage I/OFloppy disk
2 channels ATA/100
Serial ATA2 channels Serial ATA 150 via ICH5R south bridge
2 channels Serial ATA 150 via Sil 3112 SATA controller
RAIDSerial ATA RAID 0, 1 support via ICH5R south bridge
Serial ATA RAID 0, 1 support via Sil 3112 SATA controller
2 channels ATA/133 RAID 0, 1, 0+1 via
HPT372 IDE RAID controller
Legacy ports1 PS/2 keyboard, 1 PS/2 mouse, Serial and Parallel ports
USB4 USB 2.0/1.1 ports
2 additional USB 2.0/1.1 ports via
5.25" drive bay insert
Firewire3  IEEE 1394 Firewire ports via TSB43AB23 Firewire controller
Audio6-channel audio via CMI8738 audio chip
analog front, rear, surround, and center outputs
analog line in and microphone inputs
digital S/PDIF input and output ports (RCA and Tos-Link)
Ethernet10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet via Intel CSA GbE controller
BIOSPhoenix AwardBIOS
Bus speedsFSB: 100-511MHz in 1MHz increments
AGP/PCI: 66/33, 73/36, 80/40MHz
PCI: 33-38MHz in 1MHz increments
Bus dividersDRAM: Auto, 1.25x, 1.33x
VoltagesCPU: default, 1.3-1.6V in 0.05V increments
DRAM: default, 2.7-2.9V in 0.1V increments
AGP: default, 1.6-1.8V in 0.1V increments
MonitoringVoltage, fan status, and temperature monitoring

The board has every integrated peripheral except a graphics chip; as you can see, its storage and RAID categories are especially packed. Don't worry; we'll be going over each of the DRAGON 2's features and peripherals individually. But first, let's take a look at the board's layout.