Soltek SL-K8TPro-939 Motherboard Review :: The Board

11-30-2004 · Category: Motherboards

By John Chen
Soltek SL-K8TPro-939 Spec Sheet
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Motherboard Photo
Part NumberSL-K8TPro-939
ManufacturerSoltek
Price CheckFind Best Price
DownloadsBIOS
Drivers
Manuals
ChipsetVIA K8T800 Pro VT8237
North BridgeVIA K8T800 Pro
SocketSocket 939
Processor TypesAthlon 64, Athlon 64 FX, Opteron
Number of CPUs1
Front Side Bus1GHz HyperTransport Bus Link
Memory TypeDDR
Memory ChannelsDual
Maximum Memory4GB
External GraphicsAGP8X
IGP None
South BridgeVIA VT8237
Audio8-channel
IDE133/100/66/33
SCSINone
SATA1.5 GB/s
RAID0, 1, 0+1
LAN10/100
FirewireNone
USBUSB 2.0
Expansion Slots
  • 1 x AGP
  • 5 x PCI
BIOSAWARD
Form FactorATX
Motherboard Photo

SOLTEK is most commonly known to provide quality motherboards at very low costs, and sticking to that reputation, the SL-K8TPro-939 is considered to be one of the lowest priced Socket 939 motherboards available. The first attractive thing to mention would be the black PCB and the mix of purple and yellow colors across the board.


Soltek SL-K8TPro-939 Motherboard Review
Soltek SL-K8TPro-939 Motherboard Review

SOLTEK'S SL-K8TPro-939 uses VIA's K8T800 Pro chipset. Unlike nVidia's nForce3 MCP, the K8T800 Pro follows the tradition of a Northbridge and a Southbridge. The Northbridge is powered by the K8T800 Pro while the Southbridge is powered by VIA's VT8237. Technically, there is not much need in having two bridges since AMD incorporated the memory controller to be on the CPU, but having two bridges does help with better component placement.


Soltek SL-K8TPro-939 Motherboard Review
Soltek SL-K8TPro-939 Motherboard Review

Many will argue that nVidia's single chipset will free up more PCB area and allow better tracing and better placement of components, but I found that not to be true. The location of the chipset itself is extremely unsatisfactory. Since I'm an overclocking enthusiast and always want to push to the limits, I tend to look for better cooling solutions. If all the cooling solutions are left stock, the graphic card and nVidia's chipset will not interfere. Because the chipset is located right at the end of the AGP slot, using an aftermarket cooling solution from Swiftech or Thermalright will be impossible. Water-cooling enthusiasts will understand the lack of space for their chipset water-blocks. This is where I favor VIA's use of two bridges. SOLTEK places the Northbridge right above the AGP slot, providing ample space around the chipset for enthusiasts to upgrade to better cooling. The Southbridge is located next to the PCI slots and is free from interfering with graphic cards.


Soltek SL-K8TPro-939 Motherboard Review
Soltek SL-K8TPro-939 Motherboard Review

The location of the CPU socket is towards the top right of the motherboard. Other than the capacitors that line up along the left side of the socket area, there is enough clearance to use all kinds of coolers available. The 4pin 12v power connector, dedicated for the CPU, is located to the left of the CPU socket area. This is somewhat of a bad placement as it requires the power cable be stretched from the top right side to the left, wrapping around the left and top portion of the CPU cooler. If cables are not long enough, it'll stretch directly across the cooler, getting in the way of the CPU fan.

There are 4 DIMM slots to provide a maximum of 4GB of unbuffered non-ECC DDR memory. AMD has yet to step into the DDR2 world since the latencies are still extremely high, but they will soon enough. Unlike typical motherboards that require memory be installed in DIMM slots 1 and 3, SOLTEK opts users to install memory into DIMM slots 1 and 2 or 3 and 4 to enable dual channel. To run in single channel mode, memory can be installed in DIMM 1, 2, 3, 4, 1+3, or 2+4. SOLTEK also warns that the system won't boot if memory is installed in DIMMs 2, 4, or 2+4. Right next to the DIMM slots is the motherboard ATX connector. In my personal opinion, this is a really good location since the large cable is clear of other motherboard components. The cable can easily hide in empty 5.25 drive bays.


Soltek SL-K8TPro-939 Motherboard Review
Soltek SL-K8TPro-939 Motherboard Review

Hard drive support on the SOLTEK is plentiful. The motherboard supports a total of 6 IDE drives and 4 SATA drives. The VT8237 controls 2 SATA drives and gives the option of RAID. It is also the controller for the two purple IDE ports that allow up to 4 IDEs installed. Unfortunately there is no RAID option. The IDE RAID option is controlled by the Promise chip that's covered by the SOLTEK sticker. It is also the controller for the 2 other SATA connectors. The RAID option on the VIA VT8237 and the Promise chip cannot be combined when using 4 SATA drives.

The SL-K8TPro-939 pushes users towards the use of new hardware components with the supplied options in the I/O panel. The parallel port for printers is gone, and there is only a single serial port. There are 4 USB ports, 1 Firewire (IEEE1394), a Gigabit Ethernet, SPDIF in, SPDIF out, and the input and outputs for the 8-channel onboard sound. The Gigabit LAN is controlled by the VIA VT6122 chipset and is plenty fast for home end users. The onboard 8-channel sound is controlled none other than Realtek's ALC850. Realtek's sound quality is not the best but will certainly be good enough for typical home end users. Audiophiles will probably look somewhere else for a better solution. It was a bit strange to see that Soltek used Realtek's audio chip over VIA's Envy audio. The Envy audio and ADI audio are currently the two best onboard sound solutions. With the use of VIA's K8T800 Pro, Soltek should have stuck with VIA's sound solution.