Albatron K8X800 ProII (VIA K8T800)
The Socket754 mainboard from Albatron tries hard to differ from the others. The engineers let their creativity free when soldering extra controllers onto the PCB. The result is a really interesting product, seemingly targeted at advanced users. Here is the photo of the Albatron K8X800 ProII, made on the company’s traditional blue textolite:
It seems like the engineers mostly focused on the audio qualities of the product. The Albatron K8X800 ProII has a PCI audio controller rather than an ordinary AC’97 codec. The controller is exceptional even in its own class. It is the eight-channel VIA Envy24HT with support of the 192kHz/24bit mode, usually available in top-end audio solutions only. The number of the audio mini-jacks at the rear panel is six, as necessary for a 7.1 speaker system. There is also a bracket for the back panel of the case with a digital and coaxial SPDIF in- and outputs as well as a pair of extra mini-jacks. You can see the results of our tests of the VIA Envy24HT controller in our article called Contemporary Integrated Sound Solutions. Part II. In my opinion, this audio controller stands next to add-on cards like those from Creative in terms of sound quality.
The Albatron K8X800 ProII mainboard also offers you the exclusive BIOS Mirror technology. Well, only the name is actually exclusive. The technology itself is quite ordinary. The PCB carries two chips of flash memory that store two versions of the BIOS. You can switch between the two with a DIP switch. If one version somehow becomes corrupted, you can start up your computer with the second one. The need for such a technology seems less urgent today, and there are better value offerings in the market right now. For example, ASUS suggests you restore the content of the flash chip with the help of the CD enclosed with the mainboard.
The rest of the capabilities of the Albatron K8X800 ProII are close to the specifications of a certain “average” Socket 754 mainboard. There is only one more extra controller. It is a VIA VT6307 chip supporting two IEEE 1394 (FireWire) ports. The ports themselves didn’t fit into the rear panel of the board (those six audio connectors took every free seat for themselves), but you can “output” them by means of a bracket for the system case. The mainboard also features a 3Com 3C940 network controller (1Gbit/s Ethernet).