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BIOS and Overclocking

As I said already, the BIOS of the Soltek SL-KT880E-RL mainboard is based on microcode from AMI. The BIOS Setup is a menu tree with many branches, offering you all necessary settings. We already talked about memory-related options, so now we’ll examine overclocking opportunities.

Here’s what you can do for overclocking:

  • The FSB frequency is adjustable from 100 to 327MHz stepping 1MHz. Note that the available range of the FSB frequency is determined by the rated processor frequency or by the jumpers on the PCB. In other words, you’ll probably have to open up your system case to do overclocking. Fortunately, the jumpers that you set up the base FSB clock rate with are placed conveniently – other components don’t prevent you from accessing them;
  • You can change the CPU multiplier from 5x to 18.0x (five-bit multiplier coding is employed);
  • You can adjust the Vcore from 1.1 to 1.85v stepping 0.025v;
  • The Vmem can be changed from 2.5 to 2.8v stepping 0.1v;
  • The Vagp is adjustable from 1.5 to 1.8v stepping 0.1v;
  • You can change the chipset voltage, from the normal 2.5v to 2.8v.

You may note that the Soltek SL-KT880E-RL offers ordinary overclocking tools – nothing extreme here. For example, the ceiling of the Vcore is rather low. Modern memory may also require a higher voltage than 2.8v, too. Also disappointing, the mainboard makes you do your overclocking by moving the onboard jumpers. Still, this is not the main drawback of the Soltek SL-KT880E-RL. To my deepest regret, Soltek stripped its product of the ability to lock the frequencies of the AGP and PCI busses during overclocking. As a consequence, these frequencies increase along with the FSB clock rate, rendering external devices and graphics cards non-operational. Although the KT880 chipset does allow clocking AGP/PCI busses asynchronously, as we made sure in our ASUS A7V880 mainboard review, Soltek didn’t realize this function in its SL-KT880E-RL.

Of course, the effective overclockability of the Soltek SL-KT880E-RL turns to be lower now as our practical tests confirmed. We took an Athlon XP 3200+ processor and tried to increase the FSB clock rate to the maximum, having first reduced the CPU multiplier to 9.5x. We also kept all the voltages at their nominal values. The memory frequency was set in sync with the FSB, so we took DDR400 SDRAM for overclocking this processor. We use PC4200 Enhanced Latency SDRAM from OCZ Technology for our overclocking tests and this memory easily conquers high clock rates.

The BIOS Setup allows setting an extra-high FSB frequency, but you shouldn’t trust it much. In reality, we only reached 223MHz FSB with a Parallel ATA hard disk drive. If the system worked with a SerialATA drive, which was more fastidious about the frequencies, the maximum stable FSB clock rate was 218MHz. Thus I cannot recommend the Soltek SL-KT880E-RL mainboard as a platform for extreme overclocking.

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