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  • Soltek SL-K8AN-RL 'Black Thunder' Motherboard Review
  • Soltek SL-K8AN-RL 'Black Thunder' Motherboard Review


    Board Layout and Features

    The nVidia nForce3 is a single chip solution designed for the Althon64 processor platform. As we already know the major reason for the previous Northbridge chip was to provide direct connections between the processor, AGP, and onboard memory, well with one of those functions being removed it just seemed logical to move the remaining features into what was then known as the Southbridge.
    The Soltek SL-K8AN-RL supports the Athlon64 754pin processor that contains a single channel DDR400 memory interface. The processor socket is located directly between the onboard memory slots and 4/8x AGP thus assuming the traditional Northbridge location. The memory banks are located across the top of the motherboard above the processor. This is a nice change since installed video cards no longer obscure the memory slots.
    The nVidia nForce3 MCP chip doesn't get particularly hot but a heatsink has been provided to keep things cool. Atypical for a Soltek board the heatsink only came with a small amount of thermal paste. Things like this occur from time to time and under normal operating conditions will have little effect on board performance and stability. As always the stock thermal paste was cleaned up and replaced with a thin film of Artic Silver.
    You can be assured that the letters after the product name on any Soltek motherboard stand for additional onboard features, In this case the RL stand for RAID and LAN. Raid features are made possible by a single Promise controller chip with 2 ports dedicated to SerialATA and a single Parallel ATA port located above the floppy connector. RAID levels 0, 1, and 1+0 are supported though it isn't recommend that you mix Parallel and Serial ATA hard drives. For users not wanting this feature a single jumper is used to turn the controller on and off.
    For those not wanting full on SerialATA RAID there is a single SerialATA port connected to the nVidia MCP. A small Marvell controller is used to provide the connection.