Soyo SY-5EMA Review

Introduction
Soyo's first Super-7 ATX form factor motherboard the SY-5EMA (hereafter referred to as the 5EMA) follows closely on the heels of their AT SY-5EH5 and it is a definite staple in the Super7 market. With a 1MB L2 cache, 5 full length PCI slots, 2 ISA (1 shared) and the necessary AGP slot as well as 2 DIMM and 2 SIMM sockets the 5EMA has a lot of room to expand.


Complete board specifications can be found here...


The 5EMA sports Soyo's own licensed version of the VIA MVP3 chipset; the ETEQ 82C6638/6629 AGP Chipset is the current "CE" revision of the MVP3. As most everyone knows the biggest problem with revisions of the MVP3 chipset before "CE" was that they weren't always compatible with video cards based on Intel's i740 chip. This seems to have been resolved now but there still is the possibility of incompatibilities with future graphics chips as manufacturers still concentrate on production for the Intel based market.

The 5EMA has built-in support for a wide variety of bus speeds (60/66/75/83/95/100/112 MHz) which could make it very good for overclocking although the very convenient dipswitch method of setting the bus speed and clock cycle tends to be a little rigid so you may have to experiment to get the settings you desire. With the inclusion of the 95MHz bus speed, the 5EMA supports the K6-2 333MHz recommended settings but we were very pleased with the performance of the 112MHz FSBx3 clocks when using this processor. You should note however that while running the board at 112MHz FSB, the PCI bus and AGP bus are also being overclocked as are your DRAM and the chipset itself. Many PCI devices (especially older ones) as well as AGP graphics cards flutter when overclocked so, you'll need to take this into consideration before attempting to run at this speed.
A great and almost idiot proof feature this board has is the "Smart Detect CPU Voltage". When the "Smart Detect CPU Voltage" jumper is capped, the board automatically configures the voltage to meet your processors needs. This offers beginners a safety net but most overclockers will most likely disable this feature due to the fact that overclocked processors tend to require higher voltages than those recommended by their manufacturers.
The 5EMA supports voltages from 2.0v to 3.5v in 0.1v increments. Also the ETEQ 82C6638/6629 chipset on the 5EMA allows users to run their DRAM (system memory) at the AGP bus frequency (at or around 66MHz) while still running the rest of the system at the 100MHz FSB. This allows users to save money, by sticking with their current DRAM instead of upgrading to PC100 SDRAM.

Setting up the mainboard is a reasonably simple procedure. Just about everything you need to know is in the included SY-5EMA Quick Start Guide; a stapled up flyer printed on 100% post consumer recycled paper. The size, while not huge, is ample for getting even the chubbiest of fingers into and the Quick Start Guide walks you through setup step by step. The full manual is located on the included CD ROM along with the latest AGP, ACPI, Bus Mastering and Miniport Router drivers. Although I am not at all a fan of online manuals, this one seems to cover all the necessities.


Soyo built ease of configuration in and we took full advantage of it.   We had a few setbacks however when a defective jumper caused a major malfunction in the voltage regulator burning up most of the Cyrix chips I had before I could detect the problem.  This could have been prevented with use of the "Smart Detect CPU Voltage" feature but thinking I was a pro and knew my stuff I had it disabled. Once again the tests were done with a hard drive full of junk and I want to add that this was one of the easiest setups I have run across when upgrading without reformatting.   This time I did not remove any of the system devices in an attempt to determine if the default BIOS and the Windows 98 Operating System could, in fact, setup the system without failing.  It went off without a hitch copying a few needed drivers from both the Win98 CD and included Soyo Setup CD.  A real breath of fresh air...


The Business Winstone 98 marks are the average of five runs and the graphics marks are averaged over three runs of each test. Remember that you should not go by benchmarks alone as many of these boards all run within a few points of each other. Choose your new mainboard according to your needs and the products features first. You will be much happier in the long run.

Soyo SY-5EMA Benchmark

Testing Configuration

Mainboard

Soyo SY-5EMA

Cache

1024k L2 cache

BIOS

Award 4.51PG

Processors

AMD K6-2 333MHz, AMD K6-2 300MHz, Cyrix M-II 300, Intel P233MMX

RAM

64MB Corsair PC100, 64MB Generic EDO SIMMs

Hard Drive

Maxtor 2.1G Ultra ATA

Graphics Card

Expert@Work 8MB AGP (800x600@16bpp)

Operating System

Windows 98


Soyo SY-5EMA Chipset Features Setup for Testing

BIOS Settings

 

SDRAM @ AGP bus

PC100@ CPU bus

Bank 0/1 DRAM Timing:

60ns

Turbo

Bank 2/3 DRAM Timing:

60ns

Turbo

Bank 4/5 DRAM Timing:

60ns

Turbo

SDRAM Cycle Length:

3

2

SDRAM Bank Interleave:

Disabled

4 Bank

DRAM Read Pipeline:

Enabled

Enabled

Sustained 3T Write:

Enabled

Enabled

Cache Rd+CPU Wt Pipeline:

Enabled

Enabled

Read Around write:

Enabled

Enabled

Cache Timing:

Fast

Fastest

Video BIOS Cacheable:

Enabled

Enabled

System BIOS Cacheable:

Disabled

Enabled

Memory Hole At 15Mb Addr.:

Disabled

Disabled

Aperture Size:

64M

64M

AGP Transfer Mode:

2x

2x

You can see a performance increase in using the highest bus speeds available.

ChartObject Winstone 98

 

Business Winstone Scores

 

AMD K6-2 300MHz (100MHzfsb x 3)

AMD K6-2 333MHz (112MHzx3)

Cyrix M-II 300 (66MHzfsb x 3.5)

Intel P233MMX (100MHzfsb x 2.5)

64MB PC100

22.1

22.8

20.1

17.9

64MB EDO

21.4

21.9

19.1

17.5

The Lonsdale Beta ICD OpenGL drivers were a bit of a disappointment but the board performed adequately especially considering that we did not use 3DNow! optimized drivers...

 ChartObject QuakeII (Lonsdale Beta ICD 640x480)

Quake II DemoMap 1 - Lonsdale beta OpenGL ICD

(640x480

AMD K6-2 300MHz (100MHzfsb x 3) AMD K6-2 333MHz (112MHzx3) Cyrix M-II 300 (66MHzfsb x 3.5) Intel P233MMX (100MHzfsb x 2.5)

64MB PC100

19.9

21.5

17.4

17.4

64MB EDO

18.9

20.4

16.5

16.6

With the inclusion of DirectX6 the D3D apps really scream...

ChartObject ForsakenMark (D3D 640x480)

 

ForsakenMark (Direct 3D)(640x480 16bpp)

 

AMD K6-2 300MHz (100MHzfsb x 3)

AMD K6-2 333MHz (112MHzx3) Cyrix M-II 300 (66MHzfsb x 3.5) Intel P233MMX (100MHzfsb x 2.5)

64MB PC100

44.91

49.31

32.11

40.22

64MB EDO

39.66

41.45

32.11

38.24

MediaTek Ratings

Soyo SY-5EMA

Performance 95
Value 93
Ease of Installation 97
Documentation 92
Stability 96
Overclockability 95

Overall Score

94.5

awardgold.gif (6926 bytes)

Conclusion
What can I say but that it is a good sound mainboard and although I hate to keep giving all of these boards such glowing reviews I have no problem whatsoever giving this board our Golden Super7 Award.  It took everything we threw at it in stride without a failure, flutter or bsod.  The ATX form and size make installation a pure pleasure.  While not a true Overclockers dream it is a stable and a staple in the Super7 market.




Last Updated on 8/31/98

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