Articles: Mainboards

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The implementation of the audio section in the Soltek SL-KT880E-RL is good, quite contrary to what we usually hear from Soltek’s mainboards. We used the RightMark Audio Analyzer for exploring the properties of the audio subsystem:

Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB:

+0.05, -0.38


Noise level, dB (A):



Dynamic range, dB (A):



THD, %:


Very good

IMD, %:



Stereo crosstalk, dB:



The networking capabilities of the Soltek SL-KT880E-RL are realized by means of the VT8237 South Bridge coupled with a physical-level VT6103controller. This controller provides 10/100Mb speeds, but puts a higher load on the CPU than typical PCI controllers. For example, our Athlon XP 3200+ was loaded by 30-40% when we were transferring streams of data across the network.

PCB Design

Once again, the main goal before the engineers of the Soltek SL-KT880E-RL mainboard was to make the product as cheap as possible. We noticed various signs of this desire for cheapness throughout this review, like the reduced number of memory slots. Besides that, the PCB of the mainboard is very small and has a depth of 215mm, while a majority of modern ATX boards have a depth of 245mm. This made the engineers deviate from the traditional placement of the connectors onboard. And I wouldn’t call this layout a good one.

The Parallel and Serial ATA slots are located before the PCI slots and may be a cause of trouble if you’re installing a large expansion card. The ATX power connectors found themselves behind the processor socket. That’s also not a very proper place – the power cables hang above the CPU cooler, hindering ventilation. The installed AGP graphics card blocks the latches of the DIMM slots, but you might have expected that: mainboard makers seem to ignore this problem completely.

The processor socket itself found a good place on the Soltek SL-KT880E-RL – I think you won’t have any troubles mounting a cooler. On the other hand, there are no mounting holes in the Socket A neighborhood so you simply can’t install certain types of coolers.

The back panel of the mainboard carries two PS/2 ports for the mouse and keyboard, four High-Speed USB ports, three audio jacks (inputs and outputs combined), a network RJ-45 connector, one parallel and one serial port. The second COM port is wired on the PCB as a pin connector, but the connector itself is missing. Strangely enough, the I/O shield for the back panel of the system case has two holes for COM ports – one opening is empty when you use this shield.

The CPU power module is dual-channel and there are only four MOSFETs soldered to the PCB instead of six, as the scheme prescribes. So once again we catch Soltek saving on costs – even the available MOSFETs are relatively low-powered. We encountered no problems when testing the mainboard, but the CPU voltage regulator module may be insufficient in some extreme cases, like at extreme overclocking.

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