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Soltek SL-75MRN-L "Golden Flame" Motherboard Review

By: Mike Wright | Editorials in Motherboards | Posted: Mar 27, 2003 5:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 9.5%Manufacturer: Soltek


The Southbridge of the 75MRN-L board is where you'll find the sound, IDE and USB functions. As mentioned earlier, the board supports hard drives rated at up to ATA133, but not SATA. Since the SATA standard is still in its infancy, this won't be an issue to most.


USB on the board is of the 2.0 variety, so you'll be guaranteed compatibility with all of the more modern USB devices. But not to worry, it is also fully backwards compatible so that those with older devices will still find themselves in luck.



It used to be that a board without a full complement of six PCI slots was lacking. Of course, with so many peripherals being built in to the current breed of boards, the need for all these slots has gone away somewhat. So the fact that this model has only five PCI slots isn't too much a problem. With the built in sound and LAN capabilities, you've already made out!



It should only take a second to realize that this motherboard is not carrying the standard backplane. But not to worry as the package comes complete with a cover plate that fits into any standard ATX case to handle the design of this particular layout.


Available ports include the standard PS2 ports for keyboard and mouse, one Serial port, one Parallel port, one Video port, a MIDI port, three ports for sound needs (front speakers, rear speakers and sub), two USB ports and a LAN port. Additional USB ports are available as well as a second Serial port. I liked the deletion of the second Serial port, but the placement of the USB ports took a bit of getting used to. I'm accustomed to having them right next to the PS2 ports, so I was aiming for the wrong place toward the beginning of the installation.


Of note regarding the LAN port is that I had the same connection rates with it as I do for my normal NIC card. I generally use a DLink NIC and the onboard version here was able to meet the speeds and connection rates that I was accustomed to. And since I use Windows XP, there were no problems as far as compatibility or conflicts. It truly worked like a dream.


One final note is that the nForce2 based boards have onboard video. Considering that they are an nVidia based chipset to begin with, it should come as no surprise that it will be an nVidia based video setup. The VGA adapter is equivalent to the GeForce4 MX video cards, so while not top of the line, it can be used in a pinch (or when troubleshooting). If you have your own AGP variety video board, then just make sure to disable the onboard graphics within the BIOS. From there is will be smooth sailing. I had no problems at all using a Radeon 9700 Pro card in this board.



Finally, we'll take a quick peek at the added goodies that reside in the box when you open it up. You'll see the regular array of IDE cables, the Users Manual, a Quick Start Guide, a spare Serial port that can be set into an empty PCI slot in the back of the case, a driver disk, a disk with several utilities included and a manual that actually covers the added utilities. That last one was a bit of a surprise and is a very nice addition to the package.


Speaking of the added utilities, you'll receive PC-cillin 2002, VirtualDrive 7, RestoreIT! 3 Lite, PartitionMagic 6.0 SE and DriveImage 4.0. While you may not like all of the utilities included, odds are good that you'll be able to make use of at least some of them. And since there is even included documentation for them, you can even figure out how to use them correctly!


Of special note here is the Users Manual. While I don't make it a habit to fawn over documentation, this one was a good bit better than I am accustomed to. There were plenty of pictures to guide your way through nearly every task involved with this board, and the descriptions were more informative than most others I've seen. I was even able to hook up one of the secondary USB ports built into my case without having to guess at where the cables were actually supposed to go! Sometimes it is the little things that help make a difference.


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