Soyo DRAGON 2 V1.0 Black Label - Page 2

..:: Soyo P4I875P DRAGON 2 V1.0 Packaging ::..

The package for the P4I875P DRAGON 2 V1.0 Black Label is no different from what we saw last summer with the “Platinum Edition” motherboard. Both boards, of course, meet the inclusion and feature requirements to be classified under the category of a “DRAGON” series model. The product manual that is included is far and above one of the most detailed manuals that I have come across, even when factoring in some of those that we have seen in recent times from the like of Chaintech and Albatron. We also noted the high quality of the manual back in our initial review of the “Platinum Edition” motherboard back in July of 2003. The manual goes over every step of the installation process, from driver to driver, as we as features a thorough description of the various BIOS options, and even features several pin-out diagrams of the onboard headers that could come into play for those of you with front panel USB or IEEE1394 ports. As many have come to find, these front panel connections can vary from board to board, case to case, due to the lack of any real standard in the industry. Decoding what the case connections mean versus the motherboard connections can cause some serious headaches, and it’s about time something gets done about it.

To start things off on the hardware end, let’s get the simple components out of the way. The P4I875P DRAGON 2 V1.0 comes along with four red SATA cables, three ATA/133/100 IDE cables, and one floppy cable. The P4I875P DRAGON 2 V1.0 also features a rear expansion bracket add-on for support of both S/PDIF input and output connections, whether they be via an RCA connection or a Toslink optical cable. The bracket also provides further support for additional audio channels for the rear speakers as well as a low frequency channel for the subwoofer. Another minor item of note that we rarely see included with motherboard today is that of a small packet of white thermal paste. Normally this would be included with the heatsink, however Soyo has chosen to go the extra mile and include a packet for the P4I875P DRAGON 2 V1.0.

Next up, we have all of the remaining hardware needed for use of Soyo’s Sigma Box. For those who are unfamiliar with the Sigma Box, this is a small unit that fits in either an open 5.25” or 3.5” drive bay which allows for connection of exterior items that would normally require being plugged into the rear I/O area of the computer system. The Sigma Box features dual USB 2.0 ports, both a type A and type B IEEE1394 port, along with a built-in compact flash card reader, along with support for reader a memory stick, or secure digital data device. This device also wields the capability of reading an IBM Micro Drive. For those that aren’t too inclined to jump in and figure out how to install the Sigma Box, Soyo has included a fairly thorough manual that outlines all of the main features and installation instructions for the Sigma Box.

The software that is included with the P4I875P DRAGON 2 V1.0 is one of the shining points for the motherboard. Included, you’ll find software such as Norton Anti-Virus 2003, Norton Personal Firewall 2003, and Norton Ghost 2003. All three of these programs would cost pretty penny retail, and are all extremely useful. The software suite also features Adobe ActiveShare, Acrobat Reader, and eBook Reader. The driver CD houses the drivers and software for the motherboard, so if you’re looking to find a driver, this would be the place to do it. When you first insert the disc into your CD-ROM, the main window will pop up asking you which motherboard and motherboard version you are running on. When you select which motherboard, a new window will pop up with a large listing of the available drivers that can be installed on the system.

Overall, the items that are packaged along with the DRAGON 2 V1.0 are quite nice. Soyo is one of the few manufacturers out there that seem to still supply all of the needed cabling for their motherboards, no matter whether it is for Serial ATA, or regular IDE. Soyo also has a nice featurette in the Sigma Box, an item that many have come to enjoy due to the impressive amount of portable / flash media support that it provides. The quality and detail seen in the user manual on is also excellent. Soyo has made a solid effort to supply the end user with an easily readable, well organized, and detailed product guide with the DRAGON 2 V1.0’s manual. We feel that small items, like a sticker outlining the connections, or possibly a fold-out style install guide would also be nice inclusions, although Soyo has chosen not to adopt this strategy, but to go with a solid user manual instead.