MSI vs. GB vs. Soltek vs. MSI


I'm looking at possibly building a new system soon and I am trying to decide between four mobos.

Must have:
- 2 SATA ports w/ RAID, 4 prefered
- 2 IDE ports (4 devices)
- On-board LAN
- Audio is optional, but if it has it, it must be 8ch (7.1)
- No video
- AGP (8x) slot
- Socket 939 platform
- 4 DIMM sockets / dual ch. support
- HyperTransport (pref 1GHz link)

The contenders:
I've narrowed it down to these four motherboards, though god knows more exist:
- <A HREF="" target="_new">MSI K8N Neo2 Platinum</A>
- <A HREF="" target="_new">Gigabyte GA-K8NS Ultra-939</A> (the cheaper one, not the DPS one)
- <A HREF="" target="_new">SOLTEK SL-K8TPro-939</A>
- <A HREF="" target="_new">MSI K8T NEO2-FIR</A>

What I like:
- MSI K8N Neo2 Pt: The layout with the horizonal DIMMs (this is the layout all future motherboards are supposed to be following isn't it?) Dual GBE is nice but not really necessary, the colours, the firewire on the back-panel.
- Gigabyte GA-K8NS: same as MSI less the layout.
- SOLTEK SL-K8TPro-939: Very attractive board, nice layout, excellent package (they give you practically every cable you could need)
- MSI K8T Neo2-FIR: Looks like a solid board with a decent package, like the 3 IDE ports.

What I don't like:
- MSI K8N Neo2 Pt: The packaging (they don't give you much and what they DO give isn't exactly top quality), the price
- Gigabyte GA-K8NS: Not much
- SOLTEK SL-K8TPro-939: Not much except the lack of an LPT port or the component PCI bracket
- MSI K8T Neo2-FIR: back panel is a little bizarre, I'd prefer an nForce3 Ultra platform, accessories are lame

What I've heard:
- MSI K8N Neo2 Pt: I heard this was a very solid board with good all-around performance but only a "decent" BIOS and it has various issues with memory (I might be confusing this w/ the GB board)
- Gigabyte GA-K8NS: I heard that this board performed quite well but had numerous issues with stability and overclocking, and compatabilitiy issues.
- SOLTEK SL-K8TPro-939: I heard this board wasn't the fastest but a very fair contender giving solid results, decent overclocking, and not a stunner but a very very good all-around board.
- MSI K8T Neo2-FIR: I've heard this board was just under the K8N Neo2 Pt in performance but that the VIA chipset doesn't have a functiong AGP/PCI bus speed lock, so it doesn't overclock for ****.

So that's everything that I know... At this point I'm learning more toward the MSI K8N Neo2 Pt or the SOLTEK, but I've been a fan of GB (though the somewhat unsubstantiated rumours of instability/unreliability have kept me on my toes about them), and the K8T Neo2-FIR is really just there for good measure since I'd prefer a nForce3 Ultra, but not many exist.

I *did* check out the Asus A8V or AV8 or whatever it is, didn't like it. I checked out the EPoX nForce3 Ultra board and wasn't very impressed.

Also, I do not want an nForce4 board because I have absolutely no way of affording a PCIe video card, and any nForce4 boards that support AGP are only going to be translated to PCIe and thus hamper performance, plus its a waste of money to buy a board which is mainly focued on PCIe if I'm not going to use it. I *do* want 939 for a number of reasons, and I do prefer nForce over VIA because I like the consolidated chipset. I'm willing to put up with the odd placement of the chipset HSF, as I don't take my video card out daily so I'm not going to have a fit over it.

I am a moderate overclocker, but I'm not looking to set any world records. I have considered a WC setup so I could OC more, but I don't think I can afford it right now so I will just stick to my moderate OCing for now. I do plan to get at least a Corsair Value Select Dual Channel Kit (1Gb / 2x512Mb), and I'd like to go with a RAID setup (2xRAID0) once I get the money for some SATA drives. I plan to start out with a low end A64 (not the FX) and move up eventually when money permits.

I do play games, do some office stuff, this computer functions as a little web-server part time (mostly for local development and sharing development projects with friends), and really it does a little bit of everything. It must be stable since it runs 24/7, often unsupervised for many many hours at a time.

So, which motherboard would give the best value? I do want as much performance as I can get on a budget ($110-$140 is where I'm aiming), stability is important, and so is a least a little bit of headroom for upgrading and overclocking.

I appreciate any suggestions and/or info about anything I listed or any new ideas altogether.

Thank you very much for reading!<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by rocketPack on 12/21/04 00:55 AM.</EM></FONT></P>
13 answers Last reply
More about soltek
  1. Anandtech did a review of the SIS755FX chipset. It compare most of the 939 boards to the Foxconn SIS board. The Foxconn board looks like it could be an alternative to other 939 boards. As of yet, no 939 board convince me that 939 in current form worth it. This inexpensive board could change that thou.

    -Always put the blame on you first, then on the hardware !!!
  2. The nForce3 250 series chipset has fewer memory issues than the VIA: It's more likely to work with 4 banks of RAM (2 double-sided modules). Neither are likely to work right with 8 banks of RAM (4 double-sided modules).

    The SiS 755 series has the best RAM compatability, the nForce3 250 series has the best performance and features, the VIA chipset are behind both in performance and behind nVidia in features.

    <font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
    <font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
  3. Interresting, I have not seen any SiS 939 boards around, I will look into that for sure.

    Memory compatability isn't a big issue (I don't upgrade often due to cost), so as long as it works the first time...

    Thanks for the suggestion.
  4. I bought the Soltek you're looking at with an athlon 64 3000+. It's a great board. It's stable, and the support has been amazing. There was a thread over at AT in the motherboard section started by a soltek employee to ask for feedback on the board. We told her some issues, she went to the engineers and had a new bios revision out that fixed a few of our problems. Amazing.

    The board is regarded as being the fastest and most stable stock board (at least over on the AT forums). It doesn't overclock as well as some of the others though, but that may be fixed with new bios revisions. I'm currently sitting at 250 MHz fsb rock solid. There were early reports of the PCI/AGP lock not working but I can't speak for them. I just know it works now. :)

    s signature has been formatted to fit your scr
  5. I was thinking about getting that board when I decided to upgrade. I still consider that board for future upgrade, but on their website, they have new board with PCIe

    I always got good result with Soltek and I now always use them in my built and I have yet to see one fail.

    I went with the k8an2e-gr, because it was based on the nforce3 chipset and 754 CPUs were cheaper, at this time.

    But I'm happy to know you got good result with it and may consider it later. And Soltek support is top notch. I had a small issue with the Promise controller, I wrote to soltek and the next morning, in my e-mail, I had a new BIOS that fixed it!!!

    -Always put the blame on you first, then on the hardware !!!
  6. Well that's excellent! I was quite partial to the SOLTEK board myself, I just hadn't yet sold myself on the brand name but if they have employees that actually speak english on top of producing a good product I'm SO sold!

    I really appreciate your guys feedback, you made my decision a *LOT* easier! Thanks! =)
  7. By the way... what's the software/documentation like with SOLTEK? I'm still aching after my last MSI purchase... bloated, useless software, a manual translated with babelfish, an update utility that has to be reinstalled every other time I use it...yeah. I hope SOLTEK is better, 'cause I really hate trying to figure out with 3rd party program is giving me the correct temp, voltage, and RPM ratings... anyway. /end rant. What did you guys think?
  8. Why dont you just make a jump to Soltek web site? You'll find the manual for that board online, so you can read it before.

    -Always put the blame on you first, then on the hardware !!!
  9. But what about the goodies? Like the cables included, any good? Any software? What about like temp/voltage/fan speed monitoring programs? "AI" OC programs, etc?
  10. Common guy...put a little effort and look at various review on the web. I dont have that board and I exactly know what is on the box. If you just cannot figure that on your own, then I doubt you'll be able to buy a such system and so, better go out and buy an assembled PC.

    -Always put the blame on you first, then on the hardware !!!
  11. That was pretty rude, needless, and arrogant.

    First of all, I know you don't have the board because you said so earlier (HINT HINT - I'M NOT TALKING TO YOU). I did read reviews but they don't mention the software at all, and only mention WHAT is listed in the retail box as far as hardware, not how good or bad it is. I'm just asking about quality, but apparently you run the show here and know everything so if you don't know then I guess noone else possibly could.

    You of all people should understand my reason for asking, "Always put the blame on you first, then on the hardware". If I do my homework I shouldn't need to blame either.
    Yes you use the "reply button" from my post. If you want to post a general message, use the (hint,hint) reply button from one of your post.

    "I did read reviews but they don't mention the software at all"

    And from 1 review I just found...:
    "Soltek includes plenty of software including their Red Storm 2 overclocking utility, and their mainboard operation monitor. They also include 3rd party software like PC-cillin 2004, Virtual Drive 7, RestorIT 3 Lite, PartitionMagic 6.0 SE, and Drive Image 4. "

    "as far as hardware, not how good or bad it is"

    Ok..SATA cable is SATA cable...what more can I say. Oh..IDE cable is IDE cable...Well they should work.

    "but apparently you run the show here and know everything so if you don't know then I guess noone else possibly could."

    Ok ladys and gentlemens...

    No I do run the show here..I reply to your question you asked ME! And I dont know everything..Crashman does and if I dont know, then he does.

    I did not meant to be rude, but it is like you were asking to me to do the research for you. Soltek's web site
    list many review of that board. It is a good place to start. Anandtech's forum has many thread for that board. It could be a good place to go and read. But I wont read them for you and answer your questions. I already did enough

    -Always put the blame on you first, then on the hardware !!!
    <P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by pat on 12/24/04 07:24 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
  13. Wow, there is no point in this argument.

    I "apologize" for missing the particular review you found, I read 4 of them and didn't see anything about software. How many reviews can one read about the same piece of hardware? What do you want me to do? Seems fitting to me to ask those who have had experience with it over time anyway, rather than someone who looked at it a couple times over the course of a day or two max for a review.

    Besides that, why would you respond to a question (regardless of who it says the post is directed at, I mean... how uptight can you be?) if you didn't know the answer?

    By the way...
    "Yes you use the "reply button" from my post. If you want to post a general message, use the (hint,hint) reply button from one of your post."
    Go back and look at the post __where I actually asked the question__, it does NOT say "re: pat", it says, "re: rocketPack". The post further down the line was in response to you because you were the one who commented, but my __actual question__ was directed to anyone in general.

    Thank you very much. I'm over it.
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