The first thing I noticed when taking the motherboard out of the box was its dark purple PCB. While this doesn't appeal much to me personally, it is certainly an added bonus for those of you that have a window mod in your case and like to show off its innards to your mates at LAN parties or the like.
The 75DRV5 features a slot layout of 1 AGP, 5 PCI and 1 CNR. I would have liked to see Soltek remove the CNR slot in favor of an extra PCI slot like many other manufacturers have recently started doing, however, that is just a matter of personal preference as I do not own any CNR cards. The board also features 3 DIMM slots that have a capacity of up to 3GB of DDR SDRAM. This should be more than enough for most users, as 256MB of memory is arguably all that is required for current applications.
You will be pleased to know that there is bags of space around the CPU socket for any large, exotic heatsink/fan units you may have. I tested the board with a couple of larger units and all of them fit perfectly. In the center of the socket there is also a temperature sensor that takes temperature readings from the underside of your processor. This is not the most accurate method and you shouldn't rely on this sensor alone to give you reliable temperature readings.
Another thing worth mentioning is Soltek's ABS (Anti-Burn Shield) II feature. AthlonXP processors come with a built-in thermal diode for measuring the processor's temperature and until recently, most motherboards could not make use of this feature. This is where ABS comes in. What ABS does is, if the processor goes over 85C, the system will automatically shut down and not power up again until the CPU cools down. This is very helpful because, say your heatsink falls off or your fan fails, if the feature wasn't there, your CPU would be toast in a matter of seconds. Although ABS is disabled by default, it can be easily enabled by changing a jumper on the motherboard.
For those of you that do not own a sound card, the 75DRV5 features onboard AC97 sound provided by a VIA VT1611A chip. The sound quality is sufficient as a temporary solution, but I definitely recommend that you purchase a sound card for optimal sound quality.
VIA's VT8233A southbridge provides inbuilt support for ATA133 devices. ATA133 support is becoming standard on most newer motherboards and as soon as more hard drive manufacturers start producing ATA133 drives, we should see many people making the upgrade from ATA66/100.
Overall I didn't have many complaints about the layout of the Soltek 75DRV5. The IDE and floppy connectors, as well as the ATX power connector were smartly placed, making sure that cables do not run over the heatsink/fan unit when the board is installed. That said, I was quite disappointed that Soltek did not include USB 2.0 support or RAID with the 75DRV5. It would be nice to see a version of the board released that includes these features, even if it was slightly more expensive.
PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.
United States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon's website.
United Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon UK's website.
Australia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at PLE Computer's website.
Canada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon Canada's website.