In the world of high-end AMD systems, the NVIDIA nForce2 rules the chipset roost and is the de facto platform for hardcore gamers. NVIDIA has made a real impact on the performance sector, and the dual-DDR400/AGP 8X nForce2 has definitely improved AMD's chances against the dual-DDR Intel platform incursion. This is serious hardware for hardcore gamers, and is definitely the cream of the crop for the AMD side.
Soltek offers a wide range of personal computer hardware, including video cards, mini-PC systems, and of course, motherboards. The company offers a selection of nForce2 products, ranging from the powerful SL-75FRN2 RL (with onboard Serial ATA RAID) to the highly integrated SL-75MRN L we will be reviewing here. The Soltek SL-75MRN L "Golden Flame" is a high performance nForce2 IGP/MCP2 motherboard, and features integrated GeForce4 MX video, Mac LAN and 6-channel audio, all in an attractive and affordable package.
This impressive nForce2 chipset offers dual-DDR400 support (6.4 GB/sec. bandwidth) and AGP 8X, and depending on the chipset combination, has integrated features to spare. When speaking of the nForce2 IGP/MCP2 chipset, it's important to identify the different versions, and how this differs in terms of features and options.
The nForce2 IGP, or Integrated Graphics Processor, offers a similar performance package to the standard nForce2 SPP (System Platform Processor) except that GeForce4 MX video has been integrated into the Northbridge component. This provides entry-level video right out of the box, along with a dedicated AGP 8X slot for future upgrades. Other than the presence of GeForce4 MX video, the nForce2 IGP and SPP are functionally the same.
The MCP, or Media Communications Processor, part is a bit more detailed, and NVIDIA offers several different Southbridge versions. The Soltek SL-75MRN features the MCP2 chip, which includes all the basic ATA133, LAN and audio CODEX features, but does not come with the DualNet, Dolby 5.1, or integrated Firewire options found on the higher-end MCP2-T version.
In this review we will be checking out the Soltek SL-75MRN L nForce2 motherboard, both as a highly integrated solution and when running a dedicated AGP video card. This motherboard is an interesting mix of high-end performance and killer overclocking, with a definite value edge to the whole package. If you're looking for a high-performance AMD platform, but do not have the cash for an AGP video card right away, then Soltek may have just the answer.