Single page Print

Soltek's SL-PT880Pro-FGR motherboard

PT880 hits retail

Price (street)$95

SINCE THEIR INTRODUCTION last spring, Intel's high-end 875P and mid-range 865PE chipsets have really owned the market for enthusiast-oriented Pentium 4 motherboards. However, VIA is making a run at Intel's chipset dominance with the PT880, a Pentium 4 chipset whose performance and features are impressive enough to go toe-to-toe with even Intel's 875P.

Soltek is among the first manufacturers to release an enthusiast-oriented motherboard based on VIA's new PT880, and I've managed to snag the SL-PT880Pro-FGR for testing. With Gigabit Ethernet, Serial and "parallel" ATA RAID, Firewire, and six-channel audio, the SL-PT880Pro packs a lot of functionality for a sub-$100 motherboard, but does it have the performance to run with more expensive Intel-based competition?

The specs
Before we get into the specifics of the board itself, let's have quick look at the SL-PT880Pro's spec sheet.

CPU supportSocket 478-based Pentium 4 processors (800, 533, 400MHz FSB)
Form factorATX
North bridgeVIA PT800
South bridgeVIA VT8237
InterconnectUltra V-Link (1.06GB/sec)
PCI slots5 32-bit/33MHz
AGP slots1 4x/8x (1.5V only)
AMR/CNR slotsNone
Memory4 184-pin DIMM sockets
Maximum of 4GB of DDR266/333/400 SDRAM
Storage I/OFloppy disk
2 channels ATA/133
Serial ATA2 Serial ATA channels via VT8237 south bridge
RAIDRAID 0, 1 support via VT8237 V-RAID
RAID 0, 1, 0+1 support via Promise PDC20378
Legacy ports1 PS/2 keyboard, 1 PS/2 mouse, Serial and Parallel ports
USB4 USB 2.0 ports
Additional 4 USB ports via on-board expansion header
Firewire1  IEEE 1394 Firewire port via VT6307 Firewire controller
Additional Firewire port via on-board expansion header
Audio6-channel audio via VIA VT8237 audio controller and VT1616 codec
Analog front, rear, and center outputs
Analog line and microphone inputs
Ethernet10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet via VIA VT6122
BIOSPhoenix AwardBIOS
Bus speedsCPU: 200-250MHz in 1MHz increments
DRAM: auto, 100, 133, 166, and 200MHz
Bus dividersNone
VoltagesCPU:  0.08375-1.8V in 0.025V increments
AGP:  1.5-1.8 in 0.1V increments
DIMM:  2.5-2.8 in 0.1V increments
MonitoringVoltage, fan status, and temperature monitoring

When it comes to integrated peripherals, the SL-PT880Pro has a little bit of everything. And I mean everything. With Gigabit Ethernet, six-channel audio, Firewire, Serial ATA, and RAID support, the board's loaded with features.

Because I know you're wondering, the SL-PT880Pro is also compatible with Intel's toasty new Prescott processors. However, Soltek will only support Prescott chips up to 3.0GHz; at that speed, Northwood is a better option at the moment. I haven't managed to snag a Pentium 4 "E" for the Benchmarking Sweatshop just yet, so we'll be doing all our testing with a Northwood Pentium 4.