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Overclocking

Soltek takes overclocking very seriously. With both voltage adjustments for the CPU and now the AGP it is pretty aparent who they are targeting as a consumer. Add to this the more stable KT266A chipset with the better cooling Soltek is providing it and things are getting better. Soltek incorporates into their BIOS what is called "Red Storm" - a utility that helps to find that highest clock speed a CPU is capable of. Obviously this is done with FSB manipulation. Unfortunately it isn't a perfect science yet since no BIOS based utility can perfectly create the parameters that a system will encounter once the operating system is running. Tip: use Red Storm to get a rough idea and clock 10 MHz or so below its findings. If you have no stability problems then continue to increase slowly until you have found your max stable CPU speed. Luckily you have control over memory speed and there is even multiplier adjustments available if you unlock your CPU. Also, keep in mind that you may have to adjust your AGP voltage (increase it) in order to have stability in games.

I was able to get as high as 155 MHz FSB and that is pretty good considering the stock FSB for this AthlonXP is 133 MHz. Obviously your results will vary depending on the quiality of memory you are using as well as your PCI components.

Software

Nothing has changed in the software dept. - which is not to say that this is bad. Here's a clip straight from the original review of the SL75DRV: "Motherboard manufacturers are learning that their products have to do more than perform - they have to be useful. Thats where a good software bundle comes in. Included on the driver disk for the motherboard is ITE Smart Guardian which is a program that monitors your CPU and mainboard temps as well as the voltages for several components on the motherboard. It even monitors fan speeds for fans that are hooked up to the motherboard."

"Soltek includes a second CD which is packed with the full versions of PC-cillin 2000, Virtual Drive, Drive Image 4.0, and Partition Magic 6.0. That is a very impressive software bundle as it not only includes the now almost mandatory anti-virus program but also has a HD partitioner and copier." Nothing new to add to that great bundle so no new comments.

Conclusions

The SL-75DRV2 is not a new design. That said it is a very meaningful update to an already impressive board. I'm not a proponent of the redesign-from-ground-up school so it is nice to see a manufacturer improve their product while keeping it interesting. Pictured above is the "Purple Ray" which is identical to the board that I received for review but obviously with a nicer colered PCB. I think that color would look awesome in a case with a window and some lighting.

I am very impressed with the SL-75DRV2. You can't go wrong with a purchase of this motherboard. It offers rock-solid stability coupled with great overclocking features and even had neat features like an extra memory slot (when compared to other manufacturers' boards) and more power connectors on board. Like a great artist the team at Soltek have continued to work on their masterpiece and the improvements show. Now I'm left wondering what Soltek has up their sleeve for their next few products.

Victor Oshiro January 13, 2002

 





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