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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



When it comes to benchmarking a motherboard, there are a huge amount of choices available in regards to testing. But since most of the enthusiast crowd is deeply into gaming and free stuff (we do, after all, put a lot of our money into our toys), I decided to use some simple programs that are widely available on the Internet. Not only will this be able to let us see firsthand how well the board performs, it will also allow any reader to download these same tests and run them on their own systems and have a general comparison.


That said, I should make note of a couple of items. First, neither the motherboard nor the operating system was tweaked. This will let us see what we can expect from this board right when it is taken from the box. There are numerous modifications to the BIOS that can be performed and several tweaks for Windows that will give you even better performance. Second, I decided to run the board at an overclocked speed for testing. While default speeds are great, the chances of most of our readership actually using this board in this manner are slim. To be fair, though, the comparison between the two tested boards will be at the same clock speeds so that we can still get an unbiased determination as to which is really the better board.


So before we get into the hard numbers, lets take a look at the test system:


AthlonXP 1800+ @ 1870MHz (Thoroughbred "A")


2x 512MB Crucial PC2700 DDR


Seagate Barracuda IV 40GB Hard Drive


Sapphire Radeon 9700 Pro


SoundBlaster Live Sound Card


TDK 48x16x48 CD-RW


Pioneer 16x DVD-ROM


D-Link 10/100 NIC


The two mainboards being compared today will include the Soltek board (of course) and the EPoX 8K9A2 based on the VIA KT400 chipset. Even though both have onboard audio and one has onboard networking capabilities, I chose to use the separate PCI cards so that the tests would more accurately reflect the actual performance levels of each individual motherboard. Though neither showed any signs of noticeable performance degradation during tests with the onboard audio enabled, these tests will make sure that the numbers reflect all possible power available to the enthusiast.


As stated above, both motherboards were run at the same clock speed. In this case, this speed was 1870MHz since this is the highest speed that the EPoX board would run at with any degree of stability. Memory voltage was set to 2.7v on each board and the Vcore settings were set to 1.80v. Besides making sure that VSync was disabled during all tests, all hardware settings were left at factory default. Also of note is that the boards were tested on a fresh install of WinXP Pro with SP1 installed.


So without further ado, here are the numbers that we all have come to know and love.


SiSoft Sandra 2003


SiSoft Sandra has been one of the most popular benchmarking utilities for several years. While it is a synthetic testing suite, it does manage to give workable comparisons when used on different platforms. For those who are interested in running the tests themselves, you can download the utility right here.



Starting off with the CPU Arithmetic Benchmark, we don't see a lot of difference between the two motherboards. Since the processor speeds were the same during testing on both competitors, this isn't a huge surprise. Notice, however, that the Soltek board armed with the nForce2 chipset is still able to maintain a slight lead in all tests. The difference works out to be either at or under one percent, so we'll call the win negligible.



Next up is the CPU Multimedia Benchmark. Since we are still testing primarily based on processor speeds, the result were again negligible, but also again, the nForce2 leads the way. Differences ended up being either at or under one percent again.



Now we're starting to see some measurable differences. The Memory Bandwidth Benchmark tests the speed at which data can be pumped through the memory pipeline. I expected to see some higher numbers here due to the dual channel DDR support of the nForce2 board and I wasn't disappointed. The differences ended up being 7% and 8% respectively for the above tests. This is more in line with what I had expected from this board, so it is good to see that our expectations weren't for naught.


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