Soltek PT880PRO-FGR - Page 6

..:: PT880PRO-FGR BIOS ::..

As far as the PT880PRO-FGR’s BIOS goes, Soltek has opted to go with the traditional Award BIOS layout that we have come across countless times in the past. When you enter the BIOS, you’ll come across all of the typical menu options such as Standard CMOS Features, Advanced BIOS Features, Advanced Chipset Features, Integrated Peripherals, Power Management Setup, PnP/PCI Configurations, Anti-Burn Shield, and all of the Default Settings, etc. We’ll be primarily interested today in the Advanced Chipset Features, Integrated Peripherals, SmartDoc Anti-Burn Shield, and the CPU Ratio / Voltage Control.

We’ll start things off today with the Advanced Chipset Features menu. When we first enter this menu, we find that it has been divided up into three separate sections, those for DRAM, AGP, and the PCI controls. The main window of importance here for performance would be the DRAM submenu. Once we access this portion of the BIOS, we see a listing for both the current FSB Frequency and the DRAM Frequency. Below these two monitoring items, we find the adjustments for the DRAM Clock, and Timings. In the image above, we chose to switch into Manual mode to show you all of the options that can be adjusted once in this mode. Soltek offers up all of the usual adjustments, such as Bank Interleave, CAS Latency, Precharge, RAS# to CAS# Delay, and RAS# Precharge. There are also a few additional options to further enhance your performance capabilities with the PT880PRO-FGR. The AGP portion of the BIOS is dedicated to the Aperture Size, 8X Support, Driving Control, Frequency, and other various setting that we won’t cover due to complexity.

Much like what we have seen in our nearly two years of reviewing motherboards, the Integrated Peripherals window is also broken up into an immense listing of certain specific aspects of the motherboard and the peripherals that are built-in. Within this menu, the user has the ability to configure the IRQ settings of several of the integrated peripherals, along with enabling or disabling the ones that they wish to use or not to use for that matter. Within this menu, we can enable or disable several items such as the Onboard USB 2.0 Controller, VIA AC97’ Audio Codec, Integrated LAN, Onboard IEEE1394, Serial ports, Parallel port, and much more. If you know that you’re going to be utilizing any of the given features offered by the PT880PRO-FGR, this is the portion of the BIOS where you’ll need to look to make sure each of them has been enabled.

The next menu that we will be discussing is that of the SmartDoc Anti-Burn Shield menu, Normally, this menu would be named PC Health Status, although due to the naming scheme that has been developed by Soltek, they have chosen to adjust the name within the BIOS to match the system. The menu houses all of the various displays for system temperatures, RPM readings, and voltage readings. As you can see, our 3.20GHz “Prescott” processor is running with the proper VCore of roughly 1.28V - 1.30V, much better than the 1.40V+ readings we have been receiving on some other motherboards in house. You might also notice the high temperature recorded by “Prescott” of 48C when idling. We experienced temperatures right around 58C full load with the PT880PRO-FGR as reported by the BIOS, although the case interior was notably cooler than other solutions.

The last menu of importance that we will be addressing today is that of the CPU Ratio / Voltage Control one. Within this window, Soltek has given the end user the capability to adjust the clock multiplier of their processor if it is indeed unlocked. As you can see, since our processor does feature an unlocked clock multiplier, we are allowed to set the multiplier to any of the available settings. Located just below this, we find that Soltek has allotted some room for the various voltage settings of the SL-B7A-F. The VCore portion boasts an immense list of supported voltages all the way up to 1.850V in .025V increments. The AGP voltages range form 1.5V to 1.8V, while the DRAM settings range from 2.5V to 2.8V. Each of the aforementioned voltage selections, minus that of the VCore, are each selectable in .1V increments. Overall, the available voltages should be enough to please an enthusiast looking to grasp some more performance out of the PT880PRO-FGR.

Overall, I was pleased with the BIOS that came along with the PT880PRO-FGR. The available options for both overclocking and system tuning are quite good and should suit a performance user just as well as they would an average Joe off the street. Since Soltek’s “Pro Series” are geared towards the enthusiast, I expected nothing less than what was offered up by the PT880PRO-FGR. Soltek has even chosen to add some additional DRAM timings options that are not available on several of their mid-grade to entry level motherboards, as well they should, and they have taken care to add in a large amount of VCore options for all processors based off of the current Socket 478 setup.

..:: PT880PRO-FGR Overclocking ::..

Now that we’ve seen all that the BIOS has to offer as far as timing and voltage selections go, it’s time to perform some overclocking analysis. I’m sorry to say that the PT880PRO-FGR turned out to be weak when it came to overclocking. This isn’t an issue that deals with the motherboard itself, rather it seems to be a problem dealing with the VIA PT880 chipset. Throughout our tests, we were unable to attain a FSB setting of more than 215-217MHz stably. Anything above these marks would cause instabilities and random reboots. At times, we even had some stability problems at 217MHz and below. I’ve heard bad things about the PT880 as far as overclocking support goes, and although VIA has included a PCI/AGP lock, the overclocks just weren’t coming. Given that this board is geared towards a high performance, it definitely won’t be winning over any hearts when it comes to overclocking. Soltek has informed e that they are working with VIA to attempt to find a solution to the overclocking problem, but they have yet to discover a workable solution.