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The audio subsystem of the Albatron PX865 PE Pro II mainboard I took for the tests consists of the ICH5 South Bridge, VIA VT1720 audio-controller and VIA VT1616 audio codec. For the sake of comparison, I also took an Albatron PX865 PE Pro mainboard, which is nearly identical to the first one. The digital part of its audio subsystem is only based on the ICH5 South Bridge, while the analog one – on the popular six-channel audio codec aka Realtek ALC650. The control panel for the codec, naturally, comes from Realtek (by the way, we already discussed the ALC650 codec as an auxiliary unit for the nForce APU in our previous Review).


Intel 82801EB I/O Controller Hub 5 (aka ICH5 South Bridge)
is the driving force for the integrated audio
on the Albatron mainboard

The differences between the two mainboards from Albatron can be seen in their connector rear panels:


Albatron PX865 PE Pro II connectors


Albatron PX865 PE Pro connectors

Albatron PX865 PE Pro II comes with a bracket carrying digital and analog connectors thus providing enhanced integrated audio capabilities.

The bracket has a CS8415A chip, which serves as a digital multiplexer, distributing the information from the serial channel across the connectors.

The difference between the Envy24HT and Envy24PT is negligible, with minor nuances like their connection to the PCI bus. Moreover, the VIA Technologies website offers scanty info on these audio-controllers, and I won’t quote the same things over again. We should better take a look at the software.

After installing the drivers from the CD enclosed with the Albatron PX865PE Pro II, I saw no trace of an exclusive control panel; there was just the standard Volume Control. So, I had to wend my way to VIA’s tech support site and download the universal “family” driver plus the Audio Deck control panel. I was surely surprised to find no such suite in Albatron’s CD, but the driver may have appeared after the mainboard. VIA software developers were writing the Audio Deck hastily and offhandedly: some captions are just abbreviations and there are only Chinese and English versions available.

When I was working on this review, version 1.30c (dated August 25, 2003) was available for download. You can visit the site for updated versions.

 
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