Soltek SL-K8AV2-RL (VIA K8T800)
Soltek Company has been lately working on inexpensive mainboards with pretty up-to-date features sets. Soltek SL-K8AV2-RL is exactly like that. This mainboard is designed without any additional controller chips (besides the integrated sound chip and physical network chip). As a result, we see a simple, low-cost but at the same time very well-done and modern solution.
The PCB design of Soltek SL-K8AV2-RL surprised me a little bit. It is the first time I come across memory slots located parallel to the PCI and AGP slots on a Socket754 mainboard. However, there is nothing bad about it, I should say. On the contrary, having placed the DIMMs in such an unusual way Soltek engineers managed to make the entire PCB layout very convenient and optimal. The ATA/133 connectors for hard disk drives and FDD are located in front of the processor Socket, where they will not be in the way. The ATX power supply connector is located in the same spot. All connectors intended for additional USB ports have been shifted to the left edge of the PCB. No doubt, this is all very well thought of. The only thing I would probably like to point out is the additional 12V ATX power supply connector, which appears in the middle of the PCB next to the chipset.
Soltek SL-K8AV2-RL offers the users a pretty standard set of features. This mainboard meets all VIA requirements about the best way to use its new VIA K8T800 chipset. Besides the North and the South Bridges and a Flash chip, there are no other additional chips onboard: only those recommended by VIA for use on K8T800 based platforms. The only slight deviation from the VIA specs is the presence of only two memory slots instead of the standard three. Although you might think that it limits the expansion capabilities of Soltek SL-K8AV2-RL solution, there is no need to worry. Moreover, the memory controller integrated into the AMD Athlon 64 CPU can support maximum two double-side DDR400 SDRAM modules. If you install three of them, the memory speed will drop down to DDR333. That is why two DIMM slots is absolutely OK in this case.
The mainboard supports all contemporary protocols and interfaces implemented via the controllers integrated into the chipset. Therefore, the mainboard features two ATA/133 ports, two SerialATA-150 ports (with RAID support for the connected HDDs) and eight USB 2.0 ports. Two of them are available on the mainboard rear panel, where you will also see two COM ports, and not just one like on many other mainboards we have already discussed today. The remaining six USB 2.0 ports can be connected additionally. By the way, Soltek SL-K8AV2-RL is not supplied with any of those nice rear panel brackets, that is why if you need more USB 2.0 ports for your system (and 2 USB 2.0 ports is definitely insufficient for today’s needs), you will have to think about getting a bracket or a case with the USB ports on the front panel. The LAN features of Soltek SL-K8AV2-RL are implemented via the VT8237 South Bridge integrated controller, which is also accompanied with a physical VIA VT6103 controller. This way, the board supports only 10/100Mbit Ethernet.
Soltek tackled the sound implementation in about the same way. Soltek engineers used a standard VIA Vinyl Six-TRAC Audio (VT1616) codec and added six-channel AC’97 sound to it. Although this codec supports SPDIF Output, SL-K8AV2-RL doesn’t have it among the connectors on the mainboard rear panel.