When NVIDIA announced they would be introducing a single-channel version of their newest nForce2 Ultra 400 chipset, it was clear that NVIDIA wanted a lower-priced offering to compete with VIA’s KT600 chipset. Since NVIDIA’s explosive growth in the Athlon chipset market, VIA has been fighting back with lower prices on their current and new chipsets. The nForce2 400, then, would be a lower-cost Northbridge, combined with the lower-end MCP Southbridge, to fight VIA without compromising NVIDIA’s top-line nForce2 Ultra 400/MCP-T offering.

This was all logical enough, and seemed like a good strategy for NVIDIA. The nForce2 400 would be a cheaper, entry-level chipset with lower single-channel performance - or so we thought! Imagine our surprise when early looks at the single-channel nForce2 400 chipset were reporting that the single-channel version was actually FASTER than the dual-channel nForce2 Ultra 400 in many situations. We had not planned for more than a news report of this "value" chipset, but with what we were hearing about the nForce2 400, we wanted to take a closer look ourselves at what all the fuss was about.

The name that was mentioned wherever we saw reports of the nForce2 400 chipset was Soltek, a name many of you may not know. While Soltek appears to be first to market with a single-channel nForce2 board, we have recently learned that Asus and Chaintech now have nForce2 400 offerings, and other companies may also be producing single-channel nForce2 boards in the near future.

Soltek is a name that is well-known to many in Asian markets. There, they have built a solid following and a reputation for building high-performance motherboards at reasonable prices. Soltek is less known in the US market, and this has been compounded by the ongoing reports of Soltek entering the US market and then withdrawing from the US market. Even with this confusion about US market presence, there have been several retailers who have consistently offered Soltek products in the US; so, they are available, but you have to search a bit to find them. Soltek was kind enough to provide AnandTech with their NV400-L64 motherboard, which was shipped to us from Taiwan.

While this is the first Soltek motherboard that we have evaluated at AnandTech, we are familiar with some of their products — particularly those produced for the Athlon CPU. Soltek was one of the first to market with an nForce2 Ultra 400 board called the SL-75FRN2. The Ultra 400 Soltek is bright yellow and called the "Golden Flame". This is typical of Soltek boards, which feature unusual colors and themes to stand out from the others in the market. More important than the appearance, however, the 75FRN2 series have developed a reputation as very good NF2 performers with excellent overclocking options and very good performance — even when overclocked.

Soltek NV400-L64: Basic Features
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  • Anonymous User - Saturday, October 25, 2003 - link

    Hello All!!!
    I've been buying components last 6 months one at a time, and the Soltek Nv400L was my last purchace.
    System Specs:
    430 Watt Antec Power Supply
    Athlon XP 2500 cpu
    512 Corsair Xms c2pt memory-single stick
    Ati 9500 pro 128 video card
    Turtle Beach Santa Cruz sound card
    1 80 gig Western Digital 8meg cache hard drive
    1 80 gig Maxtor 8meg cache hard drive
    Liteon 522446s Cd writer
    Liteon 165h Dvd rom
    Philips Brilliance 107p monitor
    Windows XP professional

    I don' need serial ata, my special editions are plenty fast for the dollars spent, serial needs to mature also. I had a Kt3ultra2, with pc2100 Infineon 512 stick, and a XP2000.
    I was concerned about this upgrade, I don't trust cheap boards. Had real bad time with a ECS pos last year.
    Let me tell you, my system right now, is THE best bang for the buck. I am so impressed. All I needed was the lan, and it too kills my pci network card. This Soltek mobo should not be understated, to say the very, very least. I also like the fact of just having my one stick of corsair, ranther than having 2 dual sticks. If you need all the "features", pass on it. If you want amazing speed, ultra reliability, and great overclocking (Soltek has O/C bios at request, FULL ram tweaking), grab this board.
    I can't believe something this cheap is so damn fast, reliable.............
    Don't be fooled people. Ya, I have no bragging rights, but I have a great little purple mobo on crack, HIGHLY SUGGESTED.
    THIS IS THE MOST UNDERATED MOBO ON THE MARKET RIGHT NOW. ABSOLUTELEY. You don't hear much about it cause Nvidia etc. etc. is not getting rich off it. Its a gem.
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, August 27, 2003 - link

    Can't see the benchmarks, too. Using Netscape7 on Linux. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Monday, August 25, 2003 - link

    Uhh... Did something happened to the benchmark pics? (They are not showing up) Anyone else experiencing this? or Is my browser acting up?

    Maybe another ongoing article update perhaps?



    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, August 20, 2003 - link

    To the author,

    PCI bus speed runs at a fixed frequency for nForce2. It isn't half of the AGP bus speed. Please use a IOSS RD2 Pro PC Geiger PCI Bus Multifunction Analyzer to verify.
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, August 19, 2003 - link

    Jeff, stop posting, it's already known fact that Gigabyte's nForce2 U400 and other U400 motherboards perform exactly the same as Epox and ASUS's boards. Your argument request is useless, waste's Anandtech's time, and is getting old frankly. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Sunday, August 17, 2003 - link

    I'm really surprised by the figures you guys obtained - I had an ASUS A7N8X-X (non-ultra) and it was crap! I could only get 8,000 in 3Dmark01, upon changing to the ASUS Ultra (deluxe) and keeping everything the same I got 13,500!!!!

    Also, my A7V8X-X was way faster (12,000 3DMark01) - Don't know why, maybe the A7N8X-X was not working correctly(?).
    Reply
  • Jeff7181 - Sunday, August 17, 2003 - link

    Again I ask... where the hell is the popular boards like the A7N8X Deluxe and 8RDA+? Reply
  • Anonymous User - Sunday, August 17, 2003 - link

    is a7n8x-x anygood? Reply
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, August 16, 2003 - link

    I am awaiting further testing on other nForce2 400/Ultra motherboard, e.g. chaintech 7njl3 or 7njl4 or gigabyte counterparts which are also very competitive in the market.

    wesley, hear my voice?!
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, August 16, 2003 - link

    And one last question - is it not possible that the 'Auto' setting for memory speed actually runs the memory in sync with FSB? I just want to be sure. Reply

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