Soltek SL-915GPro-FGR - Page 6

..:: SL-915GPro-FGR System BIOS ::..

As far as the SL-915GPro-FGR’s BIOS goes, Soltek has opted to go with a less than traditional AMI layout that we haven’t come across before. When you enter the BIOS, you’ll come across all of the typical menu options such as Standard BIOS Features, Advanced BIOS Features, Advanced Chipset Features, and Boot Config, but you don’t see anything like Power Management Setup, PnP/PCI Configurations, or Integrated Peripherals, etc. These menus have all been implemented into either of the Advanced Feature menus, the ones we’ll be concentrating heavily on for the next few minutes.

The bulk of all core settings can be found within the Advanced BIOS Features menu. When we enter into this menu, we find an impressive array of submenus with feature settings ranging from IRQ’s to integrated peripherals, to overclocking settings. We’ll cover each of the most important submenus and their features within this menu, starting off with the CPU Configuration settings. This submenu doesn’t allow for adjustment of much, only the multiplier (if you happen to have an unlocked processor), and some settings like the Hardware Prefetcher and Hyper Threading.

One of the main submenus that you’ll be using, especially if you decide to put to use the IDE RAID and Serial ATA ports on the SL-915GPro-FGR, is IDE Configuration. This submenu houses all of the settings for controlling how the system will view the Serial ATA ports, as RAID or regular “IDE” connections (a.k.a. a single drive setup). There are also a few settings towards the bottom of the window for adjustment of various IDE and Serial ATA related settings such as Write Protection and Serial ATA device detection delay.

The next submenu that most of you will come across once or twice at least in your ownership of this motherboard is that of the Super IO settings. First off, I apologize for the blurred picture, my camera wasn’t playing nice that day. Sigh. Anyhow, within this submenu, you’ll find options for controlling all of the legacy devices such as the serial ports, as well as their IRQ settings. I tend to disable most of these items to free up IRQ’s and avoid problems, but if you need them, this is the place to go as well.

When it comes to health monitoring, we find that Soltek offers up a wide array of items ranging from the typical case and processor temperatures to the strength of the VBAT rail. On some motherboards, even those aimed at higher end crowds, we’ve seen some of these voltage monitoring options dumped to lead to a more streamlined layout. I prefer to see as many items being monitored as possible. Soltek has done an excellent job with the amount of readings that they take and follow, along with offering fan speed controlling options. The new four-pin fans work far better with fan speed control, so this implementation did the job nicely.

The voltage control submenu is quite bland, given that there are only three settings that can be adjusted. I would’ve preferred to see several of the overclocking related items located within one menu, but Soltek has chosen to break them up for organizational purposes it seems. As far as voltage ranges go, the core voltage can go as high as 1.80V, while the DDR voltage peak offered is 2.90V. The highest CPU voltage that Soltek offers is a solid 1.600V. These peak voltages should all do the job nicely for a mid-range to high-performance motherboard. 2.90V should certainly be enough to deal with even the most power hungry DDR sticks out there, as well as additional core voltage to support FSB overclocking.

When it comes to overclocking, we find yet another submenu dedicated solely to adjustment of the FSB. Once again, I think it would’ve been a little better to implement the voltages, FSB settings, and processor adjustments all into one submenu rather than to have them disbursed as they are in this case. There are two options, 133MHz and 200MHz for the FSB, obviously for 533MHz Celeron’s and 800MHz Pentium 4 chips. The manual adjustment of the FSB can be found below under the namesake of “CPU Clock”. Soltek allows for a maximum FSB setting of 350MHz, far and above anything you’d be able to achieve on these i915x motherboards which typically find an overclocking cap around 25%, and that’s on the absolute best boards out there. This Soltek board started to fall out at about a 16% overclocking by our calculations. Not a bad overclock, but we were hoping for a little better.

Within the Advanced Chipset Features menu, there are two submenus, once dedicated to the Northbridge and another to the Southbridge. For the Northbridge, we see that Soltek has, for some reason or another, decided to place the frequency adjustment for the DRAM here. The remaining items deal with the various PCI-Express options, especially for the integrated graphics featured by the SL-915GPro-FGR. The Southbridge menu allows for control over enabling of the onboard audio, SMBus controller, and several other additional configuration settings for both the Southbridge itself, and for the PCI-Express ports.

As far as the system BIOS goes for the SL-915GPro-FGR, it brought everything that I was looking for to the table, though it suffered one problem. Even though Soltek has done an excellent job with the overall layout and organization of the BIOS, clearly the most organized BIOS I’ve seen in a long time, it is a little too picky about where settings go. Now, if you’re one of those people who prefer simplicity over neatness, like I do at times, you’ll wish all of the overclocking, voltage, and frequency settings could be found in one place. I don’t much like having to hunt through a BIOS for all of these settings if I want to overclock. Sure, there’s software overclocking, but I’m a hardware kind of guy. That’s my main gripe about the SL-915GPro-FGR’s BIOS. Feature wise, it’s excellent, but it’s a little too organized for my tastes.