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Mainboard Features

To tell the truth, you can hardly expect a barebone mainboard to demonstrate any outstanding features. It is extremely hard to fit a lot of additional controllers onto a small piece of textolite that is why you cannot count on high functionality of the board used as a platform for the small form-factor system. Almost the only source of features for a mainboard like that is the chipset. In our case it is VIA K8T800 PRO, which has already been used in solutions by many manufacturers. This is not a fresh new chipset (it was launched in June 2004), but it suits well for the barebone solutions. The “PRO” part of the chipset name indicates that compared with its K8T800 predecessor, the PRO version boasts higher HyperTransport bus frequency, which has been increased from 800MHz to 1GHz, and fixed AGP bus frequency. The absence of PCI Express bus support, which is very popular nowadays, is easily compensated by the reliability and low cost of AGP solutions. Especially, since PCI Express graphics cards will be really hard to fit into a barebone system, because they are usually equipped with larger cooling solutions and consume more power than their AGP predecessors. That is why VIA K8T800 PRO is a pretty smart choice in this case.

The system from Soltek is designed for Socket 939 AMD Athlon 64 (FX) processors. The CPU voltage regulator is a three-phase one, which is a pretty commonly used design by many mainboard guys out there. The mainboard supports one or two DDR400/333/266/200 SDRAM modules with the maximum capacity of 2GB. The memory modules can work in single- and dual-channel mode. The dual-channel mode is only available when you install memory modules of the same type into the mainboard DIMM slots. There is a small LED indicator next to the DIMM slots. It signals if the memory modules are powered, thus preventing you from accidentally removing them.

The IEEE1394 support is provided by the VT6307 controller from VIA. There are two IEEE1394 ports on the mainboard: one is available on the mainboard rear panel and another one is laid out as a connector next to the front panel.


IEEE1394 controller

SL-B9D-FGR mainboard is equipped with two Realtek controllers. RLT8110S provides Gigabit Ethernet support:


Gigabit Ethernet controller

The second one is ACL850 codec. It implements 8-channel sound and SPDIF. Since we came to speak about the sound features of the board, let’s take a look at the sound system test results, which we obtained in the RightMark Audio Analyzer utility:

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

+0.18, -1.13

Average

Noise level, dB (A):

-81.9

Good

Dynamic range, dB (A):

78.9

Average

THD, %:

0.040

Good

IMD, %:

0.072

Good

Stereo crosstalk, dB:

-79.3

Very good

IMD at 10 kHz, %:

0.143

Average

General performance: Good

Well, I have to state that this is a pretty good result for an integrated sound solution.

There are 8 USB 2.0 ports, because the chipset doesn’t support more. 4 ports are laid out at the mainboard back panel and 4 more are available as onboard connectors. LPT, Serial and IR ports, as well as the FDD connector, are supported by W83687THF controller from Winbond. The same chip is also responsible for system hardware monitoring.


Standard I/O ports controller

The storage subsystem supports two ATA133 and two SATA 150MB/s channels. The chipset South Bridge contains a set of integrated controllers  aka DriveStation, which is responsible for the support of these channels. SATA disk drives can be united into RAID 0 or RAID 1 array also supported by the same DriveStation.

Besides all the features listed above, one of the mainboard connectors supports IrDA signals.

 
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