Intel 570 CPU + Soltek SL-915GPRO-FGR Motherboard

CPUs|Motherboards
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February 12, 2005 by Ralf Hutter with Mike Chin

Products
Soltek SL-915GPRO-FGR Motherboard
Intel 570J - P4-3.8Ghz Prescott CPU
(775 socket)
Supplier
Soltek and Intel
Market Price

Soltek board: US$110~130
Intel 570J:
US$700~750

Motherboards and processors are rarely main characters in SPCR reviews. The recent Pentium M desktop boards piece is an exception, but well-justified given the relevance of that platform's promise of low power dissipation, high computing power and minimum noise.

So how do we justify a review of what is arguably the hottest desktop CPU ever made on a motherboard designed expressly for such hot processors? Easily.

While our focus is on low noise, this is so because of the high noise nature of the mainstream PC industry. If the stuff was quiet, SPCR simply would not exist! And while we're happily sipping on martinis, wine, beer or some other poison of choice in our quiet little yard, it is worthwhile to take a look at what's happening on the other side of the fence from time to time. In our case, the other side is the performance-obsessed end of the PC industry. This is an opportunity to see just how far runaway thermals have gone. It's also serendipitous that these compatible products landed on our reviewer's door at around the same time. Why not a review, indeed?

But please don't expect reams of benchmark data or overwrought geek prose about overclocking experiments. We're concerned about thermals, power dissipation, stability, compatibility and usability. You can all rest assured that we have no interest in competing against the tech web sites that focus on performance and gaming benchmarks.

Mike Chin, Editor

The Soltek Sl-915GPRO-FGR is a full-featured Intel 915P Socket T motherboard. The box is so loaded with extras that it's almost twice as tall as a regular motherboard box. The board itself includes three onboard ATA IDE channels, two of which can be run in a RAID configuration. It also includes four SATA channels, one of the brand-new PCI Express x16 video card slot, 2 standard PCI slots and three of the new PCI Express x1 slots. Other nice extras include a Gigabit LAN port, two onboard Firewire ports, eight USB 2.0 ports, onboard 8 channel AC97 audio, and onboard VGA courtesy of the 915G northbridge chip.


The motherboard...


...and all of this is crammed into...


...this Soltek box.

All in all, the Soltek SL-915GPRO-FGR offers about as much as you'd ever want in a motherboard package (except maybe SLI) and at quite an attractive price. I think it's safe to say it's a value package.

Full specs from Soltek are presented in the table below:

Soltek SL-915GPRO-FGR Motherboard Specifications
Chipset
Intel 915P + ICH6
Processor
CPU Socket 775 on board.
Front Side Bus
800/533MHz Front Side Bus.
Memory
  • 4 x 184-pin DDR DIMM Sockets.
  • Supporting unregistered non-ECC DDR 400/333 DRAM up to 4GB.
  • Supporting Dual-Channel.
  • Expansion Slots
  • 1 x PCI Express 16x Slot.
  • 3 x PCI Express 1x Slots.
  • 2 x PCI Slots.
  • On-Board EIDE
  • 1 x ATA100/66/33 IDE connectors supporting up to 2 IDE devices.
  • 2 x ATA 133/RAID IDE connectors supporting up to 4 IDE devices by ITE IT8212F.
  • Onboard SATA
    4 x Serial ATA connectors supporting 4 Serial ATA devices. (by ICH6)
    Integrated Super I/O
  • 1 x Floppy Port.
  • 1 x PS/2 Mouse Port.
  • 1 x PS/2 Keyboard Port.
  • 1 x Gigabit LAN Port.
  • 1 x Parallel Port. (via optional cable)
  • 2 x Serial Ports. (1 integrated, 1 via optional cable)
  • 8 x USB 2.0/1.1 Ports. (4 integrated, 4 via optional cables)
  • Audio Ports.
  • 2 x IEEE1394 Ports. (1 integrated, 1 via optional cable)
  • 1 x S/PDIF In Port.
  • 1 x S/PDIF Out Port.
  • RAID
    2 x ATA133/RAID IDE Ports supported by ITE IT8212F. (RAID0, 1, 0+1)
    IEEE1394
    2 x IEEE1394 Ports. (1 integrated, 1 via optional cable)
    Audio
    8-Channel AC'97 Audio.
    LAN
    Gigabit 10/100/1000 LAN Function.
    BIOS
  • AMI BIOS.
  • Flash Memory for easy upgrade.
  • Form Factor
    ATX Form Factor(305mm x 245mm)
    Other Features
  • BIOS FSB Setting.
  • BIOS Writing Protection.
  • BIOS AGP, DIMM, Vcore Voltage Setting.
  • BIOS Multiplier Setting.
  • SmartDoc. Anti-burning Shield. (optional)
  • Soltek H/W Monitor.
  • STR Function. (Optional)
  • Debug LED onboard.
  • SOLTEK SL-915GPRO-FGR SUMMARY

    • It's a nice black PCB with the (apparently in style) colored plastic DIMM, IDE, SATA, ATX and PCI connectors.
    • Noise-concerned users will be pleased to see the use of a passive northbridge cooler.
    • There is a lot clearance around CPU socket to make it easy to fit large heatsinks, the type needed for the hot-running Prescott processors.
    • A four-phase power design is implemented; this is becoming common on new Intel boards. The Prescott core CPU demands so much power that stable power is paramount. The four-phase design apparently provides smoother power to the processor for greater system stability. On most boards marketed as overclocking-friednly, the older three-phase designs are rare.
    • ATX and 12V AUX connectors are well positioned, but IDE connectors are rotated 90° from the norm. This does not help with cable management.
    • The floppy connector is positioned awkwardly way down at the bottom of the board.
    • There is no AGP slot with the 915 chipset. Instead PCI-E x16 is the only option for video. At this time, I did not have a PCI-E vidcard, so the review was done using the onboard video.
    • Front and rear I/O headers are positioned nicely out of the at the bottom edge of the board.
    • A Debug LED is provided along with complete list of of BIOS checkpoints documented in the appendix of the manual.

    BIOS Details

    • AMI BIOS is used. Many of the really useful menus are in the Advanced BIOS Features.
    • CPU multiplier speed is adjustable, but not relevant as most users will not have a multiplier-unlocked CPU.
    • The FSB clock speed range is from the default 200 MHz to 350 MHz, which is good for overclockers but bad for underclockers.
    • The CPU voltage adjustment range is 0.85-1.60V; yes, it allows for undervolting!


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