The BIOS & Overclocking
Most of Soltek's BIOS settings are pretty standard. From the Advanced BIOS Features to the Advanced Chipset Features menu, most of what you'll see is run-of-the-mill. Fortunately, you do have access to a fairly comprehensive DRAM Configuration menu that includes 1T command rate options, along with several timing settings and a manual memory clock value. The LDT Bus Control menu exposes HyperTransport multiplier options in the form of actual frequencies, adding bus width selections, too.
A separate OnChip IDE menu controls the integrated SATA controller, the Promise add-on chip, and VIA's parallel ATA modes. The OnChip PCI Device menu flexes control over the audio codec and USB controller. Interestingly, there's no option to turn either the Ethernet port or Firewire controller on or off. Finally, a SuperIO menu controls the legacy I/O.
Soltek calls its hardware monitoring applet the SmartDoc Anti-Burn Shield, but none of the menu's options are configurable. Instead, it's essentially just a passive hardware monitor.
The most immediately gratifying feature when it comes to overclocking the K890Pro is its graceful recovery from overly optimistic settings. Whereas many motherboards force you to shut down, clear your BIOS jumpers, and start from scratch, the Soltek board deserves special credit for detecting unstable options, resetting bus speeds back to stock settings and giving you another go roughly 15 seconds later, without needing to manually reset anything.
Otherwise, Soltek enables many of the standard overclocking options you'd expect to find on an Athlon 64 motherboard. All of them do need to be manipulated in the BIOS, though, since Soltek's Red Storm 2 Windows application doesn't work with this board just yet.
Using processor voltages as high as 1.7V, we were able to hit an FSB speed of 230MHz with an 11x multiplier and 800MHz HyperTransport frequency. That's quite a bit lower than some of the other boards we've seen go through the lab, but no combination of lower HT speeds would allow a higher FSB setting. No matter, performance in 3DMark05 wasn't improved much anyway, though the CPU metric did rise from 5081 to 5439. Cinebench shed roughly a second and a half, while SiSoft Sandra reflected bandwidth improvements of up to 10 percent.