Motherboard Layout and Features
This content was originally featured on Amdmb.com and has been converted to PC Perspective’s website. Some color changes and flaws may appear.The layout of the NV400 is relatively simple, in keeping with the low cost, mainstream market that NVIDIA is aiming the chipset towards. The CPU socket has ample room around it for a large heat solution, but mounting holes for the older, heavier heatsinks are not available, so if you have one of those, you’ll need a new heatsink.
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One of the first things you may notice that stands out is that the Soltek NV400 only has two DIMM slots for memory. This is because the nForce2 400 chipset is a single channel memory solution, as we discussed earlier. The chipset actually allows three DIMM slots per channel, even on the single channel version, Soltek just chose to not implement them all. For most users, especially those that would be buying low cost, low feature boards, two DIMMs is usually enough, so I wouldn’t bet on this issue being a big problem.
The Soltek NV400 includes a 4-pin power connector for added power to the board – something that is rarely seen on motherboards, let alone those that are heading for the mainstream market. If enthusiasts start to pick up on the chipset, however, this feature may entice some to the Soltek offering. The north bridge of the nForce2 400 chipset is covered by a low-end heatsink that is more or less there for show only.
You’ll notice also that the ATX power connector is placed very low on the motherboard. This can definitely cause issues for those users with smaller cases where the PSU is already too close to the motherboard and thus force the ATX power cable over or around the CPU heatsink.
The slot configuration is pretty standard for a low cost board, with five PCI slots and an AGP slot. The AGP slot does not have a retention clip however, and is a minor drawback. Due to the way our test beds are setup, cables are often weighing down on the cards connectors, and the retention mechanisms are well used in our labs. For storage options, Soltek has included the bare essentials: two IDE channels and a floppy connector. No RAID, no SATA, none of that here. You want the dazzle of the extras, you are going to have to shell out for the more expensive boards!
The only other feature that Soltek included is Realtek audio, which is 6-channel audio ready. Don’t expect the audio to be more than the most basic of quality, but for most mainstream users, and even some gamers, they should be satisfied with what you get – as long as you don’t have another system with a high quality system to compare it to, you probably won’t notice. 😉 Soltek didn’t include any network connection on this model, but it is available on the other L64 model. This would make it a very easy OEM board or second machine – just add a video card and your externals would be ready to go.
As the Soltek SL-NV400-64 is meant to be a very low cost board, I didn’t expect to find a lot of features on the motherboard – and you shouldn’t either.