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Reviewed by: Trevor Flynn [03.12.03]
Edited by: Carl Nelson

Manufactured by: Soltek
Est. Street Price: $99

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The Bios
Having heard some horror stories about nForce2 BIOS’s I was a little hesitant when I first went to install this board.  First thing I did upon booting it up was flash to the latest 1.3L BIOS version available from Soltek’s website. I'd recommend you do the same.

Happily I have had absolutely no problems so far after 4 weeks of heavy usage.  Perhaps the problems experienced by earlier users can be chalked up to chipset and driver immaturity.  Once again, if you buy ANY nForce2 based motherboard, I highly recommend flashing the newest available BIOS revision before doing anything else.

Once inside the BIOS, any disappointments I had about the lack of fan headers and thermal probes quickly disappeared.  The features included in the FRN-L’s BIOS are an overclockers dream. 

There are three default level settings built in (optimal, aggressive and turbo) which tweak your hardware at increasing performance levels.  Also included is a very nice Expert setting which allows you to tweak everything from the asynchronous CPU and RAM FSB setting, to AGP Frequency, all in small increments.  The RAM FSB frequency is set as a percentage of the CPU FSB.  Leaving this value at 100% ensure they will always run synchronously, something the Atlon XP chip seems to enjoy.

Also notice the value for CPU Thermal-Throttling.  This feature acts exactly like the Pentium 4 thermal throttling found on Intel Chips.  Values can be set from 0% to 100%.  If you have adequate cooling then this feature should never have to come into play, but it's still nice to know that it's there just in case.

For those of you with factory unlocked Thoroughbred XP chips, the BIOS also allows for the change of the CPU multiplier from a minimum of 5 all the way up to 18!! 

The CPU FSB setting is editable between 100mhz and 250mhz (in 1mhz increment), add to that the ability to edit not only the CPU voltage, but also the AGP and DIMM voltage, along with the ability to increase/decrease the PCI/AGP and you have yourself a ton of tweaking possibilites.  Overclockers rejoice, have I got a tweaking BIOS for you! (That is, as long as you don't need heatsink mounting holes)

I had heard some grumbling around the web that the FRN-L's BIOS didn’t allow for much in the way of tweaking options.  It would seem that Soltek also heard these grumblings and has corrected most, if not all of these problems through  BIOS updates.

The BIOS also includes CPU Anti Burn Shield thermal protection (ABS) as well as Sotek's patented "Red Storm Overclocking" system (read: Overclocking for dummies). 

Basically Red Storm will give your system to a nice, safe, stable overclock.  It won't give you the maximum overclock possible, but it also won't burn out your chip or leave you with an unstable system.  Using this feature upped my 1700+ CPU from the default FSB setting of 133mhz to 144mhz which basically bumped my chip up to 1900+ speeds.  Not bad for something that took all of a single keystroke worth of effort.

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