Soltek PT880PRO-FGR - Page 8

..:: PT880PRO-FGR Conclusion ::..

Before I get into the typical conclusion style ending for our motherboard reviews, I need to bring up something that I feel is an extremely important factor with this motherboard. Not too long before finishing off this review, I was informed by Soltek that this motherboard will only support up to 3.00GHz “Prescott” Pentium IV processors. You’ll notice that for our benchmarking tests, we ran the motherboard with a 3.20GHz “Prescott” and did not encounter any problems. Now, this motherboard will indeed work with “Prescott” processors above 3.00GHz, however this will NOT be recommended by Soltek, and likely will not be supported should something uneventful happen. This is not due to the FMB design specifications, as this board meets those needed to run the “Prescott” processor. The reason for this is the enemy of all things electronic, heat.

Now, many of you are probably familiar with the problems heat cause with modern computer chips. More heat means more expensive cooling, and more expensive components. Due to the immense heat that is put off by “Prescott,” Soltek is taking a stance to protect their customers by limiting the support. Motherboard lifespan, when running under strenuous conditions with “Prescott,” can be limited due to the amount of heat that is placed on the core components around the processor. This includes, but is not limited to, the core voltage regulation area. These components are manufactured to meet not only specific voltage and current regulations, but also heat regulations. As heat rises, manufacturers must implement costly components that can handle the heat, and in the end this will be passed on to you, the consumer.

The way I see it, you can view this situation in two ways. Those that just to the gun too quickly might blow off this board solely due to the fact it doesn’t support the top “Prescott” processors. Those that take care to analyze the situation see that Soltek is providing a service to their customers by protecting them from making an investment in new hardware that could possibly fail due to the conditions it is placed in. Soltek is not the only manufacturer taking care of their customers in this way, and this is certainly something to take note of when you’re purchasing a motherboard. You’ll see manufacturers out there overlook these issues merely to sell you a motherboard, not caring whether or not the board takes a dive early or not. Many of you wanted to know about the quality of support offered by the manufacturer in motherboard reviews, and I don’t think I need to say much more about the service that Soltek is offering.

Now, as far as the remaining portion of the conclusion goes, overall stability was very good over the past few weeks that we have been testing this unit. We placed the motherboard under the usual full-load on a 24/7 basis and experienced no notable slowdowns, glitches, or needed any reboots due to failures. This goes to show that the board can support higher speeds of the “Prescott” processor, but it just isn’t a recommended option.

For the amount of features that Soltek has managed to squeeze onto the PT880PRO-FGR’s PCB, I’d say they’ve done a pretty nice job in this area as well. The location of the main ATX power connector is a far cry from where I believe it would be ideally placed. Routing a thick cable around, or perhaps even over the processor portion of the board could have seriously negative impacts upon airflow. This is a fact that will become readily apparent if you’re running a “Prescott” core processor. We’ve seen temperature sizeable temperature variations from board to board based on airflow factors alone in our time with “Prescott” and needless to say, what were once acceptable airflow disruptions are no longer acceptable. This follows in line with the IDE connectors. The Southbridge portion of the board is a bit cluttered, and could possibly be a little cleaner in design, but when you’re shooting for certain impedance levels, etc. that sometimes isn’t possible. Overall, decent PCB design, but we’ve seen better.

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 processor based off of the current Socket 478 setup.

The Soltek PT880PRO-FGR is going to be aimed at the enthusiast crowd looking for a steal. The number one priority that Soltek has placed on this motherboard to make it a consumer favorite is cost. With the PT880PRO-FGR, you’re going to be getting more than several other large manufacturers would give you for your price, so this motherboard certainly will be a bang for the buck buy. We have yet to find any online listings for this motherboard, however once it enter the retail market in the U.S., and abroad, we feel that this motherboard should offer an excellent deal coming in around $100, especially with all of the additions Soltek has made since we received our review sample that add even more value to the package. Overall, if you’re looking for performance, stability, and a good bang for your buck motherboard, the PT880PRO-FGR could be exactly what you’re looking for. If you’re a high-end enthusiast looking for an overclocking adventure, well, don’t even consider this motherboard. Although the overclocking is not limited due to the motherboard, the PT880 chipset is a far cry from an overclockers dream. I’d like to send out a big thanks to Soltek for providing MBReview with the test unit, and to you for reading!