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Albatron K8X800 Pro II Review
By: DMOS
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  • Rating: 4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars / 20
    2004-02-03

    Table of Contents:
  • Albatron K8X800 Pro II Review
  • K8X800 Pro II Specifications
  • K8X800 Pro II Board Layout
  • Testing
  • Benchmarks - Multimedia
  • Benchmarks - Timings
  • Benchmarks - Video Games
  • Overclocking
  • Conclusion

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    Albatron K8X800 Pro II Review - K8X800 Pro II Board Layout


    (Page 3 of 9 )

    Starting from the top left of the board, you'll find the external connectivity, consisting of 6 analog audio ports, 2 of the USB 2.0 ports, and the ethernet/parallel/serial/PS2 connections found on any current motherboard except for the "MAX" line from ABIT. Personally, I'd like to see more manufactures follow that example, as I can't think of any current devices that use these legacy connections. I'd much rather see at least two more USB ports on the backplane, so that I'm less likely to need to use the included PCI bracket to be able to hook up all of my devices (keyboard, mouse, printer, PDA, camera, scanner, flash memory).

    K8X800 Pro II - Back
    K8X800 Pro II - Layout

    Right behind all of that are the three phase power regulation circuitry and the 12V power connector. Having that connector there is not the best for cable routing. Assuming that the VRM uses the 12V line to transform down to the 1.5V required by the A64, it's best to have it close as possible to the socket like it is. This helps keep the losses and variation down, which increase with distance. Still along the top of the board, at the center line is the CPU socket. As you can see, AMD has implemented a heat sink retention frame similar to the one used by Intel on all P4 boards. This is a step in the right direction, after the continued reliance on socket lugs in the SocketA platform. It leaves sufficient room in the area for large heat sinks and waterblocks. The only negative I can see is that by using only two holes it might be hard to get a waterblock to balance correctly on the CPU.

    K8X800 Pro II - Bottom
    K8X800 Pro II

    I have issues with the placement of the DIMM slots. They really cannot be put any higher up on the board, but by being so far from the side, even a small graphics card like the Radeon 8500 I use will prevent you from installing RAM with it in there. As a tradeoff however, the ATX and ATA connectors are placed nicely on the edge of the board, allowing those cables to be routed easily out of the main case airflow.

    Coming back to the dead center of the board, you will find the NB and AGP slot. There is a very small passive cooler on the north bridge, which seems appropriate given the limited number of functions it does. It does get incredibly hot though. I'm wondering how that will affect overclocking. There is a fan header right there though if you choose to add an aftermarket active cooler.

    The AGP slot has a very nice lock on it, useful for piece of mind if you port your case around a lot, and have a heavy video card. In this same area is the 3com IC for the LAN. Below the AGP you will find a full complement of six PCI slots. Not that most people will need this many, considering the number of devices on board. I'd gladly trade one of them to move around the memory slots a bit.

    To the right of the PCI slots are the IC's for the various pieces of GooSH! this motherboard is packing. This is where the VIA chips all reside for the south bridge, audio, and IEEE 1394. Also present here are the two SATA ports, and the "Dual Bios." This is a feature Albatron has copied from Giga-Byte, and gives a backup in case you botch up the main one. I think this is a bit of a waste of PCB space, as I've messed up a BIOS all of once, and a hotflash fixed that. For someone who subscribes to "Murphy's Laws" though, this is probably a great feature. A dipswitch is present to control which chip you are booting from.

    K8X800 Pro II - Layout
    K8X800 Pro II - Layout

    Along the bottom of the board you will find one of my favorite layout features: a straight line of case hookups, including the pins for the extra USB and FireWire ports (pictured below). This makes getting the board up and running easy, especially with the included documentation.

    Finally, under the sixth PCI slot is where you'll find the floppy connector wedged in. It's just about the worst location for this. Fortunately, floppies are going the way of the dinosaur. It's getting to the point where I don't care that I can't install my drive with a standard length cable, because I only use it when putting on a fresh copy of Windows and it wants my RAID drivers.

    K8X800 Pro II - Connectors

    K8X800 Pro II - VIA

    K8X800 Pro - Layout

    K8X800 Pro II - Layout

    {mospagebreak title=K8X800 Pro II BIOS}

    K8X800 Pro II - Main BIOS

    K8X8000 Pro II - Frequency

    On the surface, this BIOS is the typical Phoenix BIOS seen in many Albatron, ASUS, and Gigabyte boards. It does, however, harbor a few interesting differences.  The first is seen in the screen to the above-right.  Normally, you don't see north bridge voltages, although they show up some times; nForce2 boards in particular are noted for this. The real surprising ones are the south bridge and LDT voltages. I'm not quite sure why you'd need south bridge voltage modulation, but it's nice to have, since it might at times help stabilize the components of the SB when the PCI bus is way off in frequency. Same for the LDT voltage, which controls the HT bus voltage. As you can see by the greyed-out PCI/AGP numbers, you can't lock them, or change dividers.  There is sufficient voltage, though, for CPU and DDR to make all but the hardcore happy. That said, considering that you cannot modify the PCI/AGP bus speeds, you probably don't need access to chip killing voltages anyway.

    K8X800 Pro II - Hardware Monitor

    K8X800 Pro II - Advanced Settings

    The hardware monitor shows all the necessary voltages.  A BIOS update helped to cure some of the inaccuracy of the thermal probe, but 52C in BIOS for a water-cooled A64 seems awfully high. I'm going to say that the system temp in my frigid room is at least 15 degrees off.  I only wish I could afford the heating bill required to move from an outside temp of -25C to 34C in my room.

    K8X800 Pro II - Advanced Chipsed

    Not too much for latency control of the ram.  Probably not a bad idea either, as I had great difficulty getting it to agree to work with timings set in the BIOS, as opposed to letting it read from the SPD.  A BIOS fix from Albatron should correct that soon.

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