Soltek – SL-75DRV4 Purple Ray review

Fast Athlon motherboard - an overclocker's delight
Photo of Soltek – SL-75DRV4 Purple Ray
£75 + VAT

A growing trend among custom PC case-makers is the installation of windows in the side panels to highlight the internal components. In fact at least one manufacturer makes a totally see-through case. As if to pander to this small band of case-makers, Soltek has given the new SL-75DRV4 motherboard, designed for Athlon processors, the name Purple Ray, for a very good reason. The PCB is purple – very purple!

A development of the popular SL-75DRV2, which was well received by the community of users who like to tweak their systems, the 75DRV4 continues along those lines with DIP switches for adjustment of the multiplier, voltage, AGP voltage and FSB settings on the board, while the soft BIOS also allows FSB and voltage adjustments. It features a KT266A Northbridge and the new updated VIA 233A Southbridge, which has native support for the latest ATA133 standard.

Under the Frequency/Voltage control in the BIOS, there are many choices for the tweakers, including CPU, CHIP, PCI, and AGP Skew Adjust settings. Also provided is Soltek’s own RedStorm application which tests any adjustment made to the FSB in 1MHz increments: if it gets to a setting where the system freezes, it will revert to a lower, safe speed on reboot.

The layout of the board is clean and tidy with the ATX and IDE/Floppy headers conveniently placed out of the way of the processor fan and peripheral cards on the edge of the PCB. One point of concern, though, is the area around the processor which is surrounded by capacitors, making fitting of a large cooler almost impossible.

As for features, there’s nothing out of the ordinary; five PCI slots, one CNR, and one AGP Pro slot, which is compliant to the AGP 2.0 standard and provides support for AGP1x, 2x, and 4x cards. There are three DIMM slots with support for a maximum of 3GB of PC2100/1600 DDR memory. Although there are two USB 1.1 ports onboard, you can only add an additional 2 ports, which is odd because the Southbridge is capable of supporting six ports. The integrated sound chip is an Avance Logic AC97 codec, which lacks the performance of other onboard audio chips.

The 75DRV4 comes with a well-written motherboard manual and along with the motherboard driver CD is an excellent utility CD containing Drive Image 4.0, Partition Magic 6.0, Virtual Drive and PC-Cillin 2000.

Company: Soltek

Website: http://Dabs.com

Contact: 0870 429 3220


Verdict
The SL-75DRV-4 Purple Ray continues the line of Soltek boards aimed at the enthusiast, with an excellent array of adjustment features, both on the board and in the BIOS, all at a very reasonable price.