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Albatron KX600 Pro Albatron KX600S Pro: For the VIA crowd, the KT600 is still making a play for your 32-bit dollar. How will this Athlon XP solution fare?
Date: February 6, 2004
Manufacturer:
Written By:
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We've seen here at VL that the Athlon XP (AXP) performs quite well against the Athlon 64 (A64), at a fraction of the cost. Make no mistake, the A64 still wins the majority of todays benchmarks, and when more 64-bit applications (as well as a mainstream 64-bit OS) it'll be a whole new ballgame, but in the meantime, those not ready for the 64-bit jump, the AXP is still a great choice for budget-minded power users.

has been on a roll, releasing products based on new technologies on a frequent basis. It does seem a little odd that late last year, given that the KT600 has been out for quite some time. However, given that there are a large number of AXP users, this board does offer quite a few features at an impressive price point.

Specifications

Processor
Socket 462 Athlon"/Athlon"XP/ Athlon"XP Barton/Duron" Processor
Memory
3 * DDR sockets
DDR266/333/400 NON-ECC DDR SDRAM up to 3GB
Note 1: If the FSB of your CPU is 200 MHz, the memory speed supports only DDR 266
Note 2: If the FSB of your CPU is 266/333/400 MHz, the memory speed supports DDR 266/333/400
Chipset
North Bridge : VIA KT600
AC97 Audio Codec : Realtek ALC650
LAN Chip : 3Com 3C910-A01 LAN Chip
I/O Chip : Winbond W83697HF
IDE Connectors
2 ATA133 channels, up to 4 ATA 133 IDE devices
Special Features
Adjustable CPU frequency by 1 MHz increment, Adjustable Vcore, VAGP, VMemory for overclocking
Watch Dog Timer (auto-reset system when it can not handle overclock configurations)
Special design for CPU Over Temperature Protection. (OTP)
Expansion Slots
1 x AGP 8X slot ( 1.5V Only )
5 x PCI slots (PCI 2.2 compliant)
Back Panel I/O
PS/2 keyboard/mouse, 2 x USB(2.0/1.1), RJ45,2 x Com(serial), 1 x Parallel, 1x Game/Line-in/Line-out/MIC
Miscellaneous
- ATX form factor
- Hardware monitoring 2 FAN sensors, CPU/System voltages and temperature monitoring

The KX600S Pro is packaged in a fairly plain box, without any fancy artwork. Ultimately, what is in the box is more important, and Albatron wisely places plenty of information on the box for the buyer to educate themselves about the product before purchasing.

Other than the motherboard, there are a couple of ribbon IDE cables, a floppy cable, an USB bracket, as well as a SATA cable and power splitter. Missing is the rear IO panel for ATX cases, which was a bit of a surprise since we're used to having these thrown in, but since there isn't any proprietary IO connection, Albatron probably felt it wasn't necessary. An installation guide, manual and driver CD rounds out the package.

The Albatron KX600S Pro

For the most part, the KX600S Pro is well laid out, but there are a few areas that could cause potential problems which we'll point out as we progress through the review. Though we're quite familiar with the nForce 2 and VIA KT400A here, this marks the first time we've seen a KT600 board. What has changed is the new VT8237 Southbridge, which adds SATA and RAID support, as well as two extra USB ports (motherboard manufacturer dependent).

The KX600S Pro is a Socket-A motherboard, and there is official support for 400FSB AXPs, which was missing from the KT400A. You'll notice that there are no holes for mounting larger heatsinks, but with the performance level of many clip based heatsinks now, this is not a large a problem as it would have been around this time last year. The capacitors are a little close for my comfort though, but the Thermalright SLK800 (the largest AMD, clip based cooler I have here) fits in without any problem, though it is a tight fit.

We've always preferred active cooling, as opposed to passive (fanless) and but Albatron's heatsink is quite large. The heatsink was noticably warm during testing, but not too hot to the touch. A passive solution is the right step towards a quiet PC, which I know some of our readers care about.

The ATX power connection isn't in our favorite spot, as the power cable will be in the vicinity of the CPU's heatsink and fan. This issue can be alieviated if you rout your power cable or tie it down with zip ties. Installing and removing the cable's connection to the motherboard isn't difficult, as Albatron leaves a fair amount of room around this connection.

Ram support is limited to three DIMMS, up to 3GB total memory capacity. The KT600 supports up to PC3200 ram in Single Channel mode. Ram support will vary, depending on what CPU you install though. Older 200FSB Athlons will force the memory controller to run at 266MHz, while 333/400FSB Athlons allows the full range of ram speed support.

You can also see above that both IDE connections are located directly beneath the memory slots. This location (rather than being located by the PCI slots) should help those who have tall ATX cases and need to run IDE cables to optical drives in the upper area of their case.

There are five PCI slots and one AGP slot for peripheral expansion. The onboard peripherals are not as abundant as we've seen on high-end boards, but five PCI slots should be enough for most users. The AGP slot is precariously close to the ram slots though. Those of you with large AGP cards will almost certainly have to remove it before changing your ram as the ram slot clips will not fully open with a large AGP card installed. It is possible to change ram without removing the AGP card, but don't come screaming at us if you snap your ram modules in half.

The KT600 Northbridge is paired with the VT8237 Southbridge, and handles the storage and connectivity options on the board. RAID-0, RAID-1, RAID-0+1, and JBOD configurations are all supported via the SATA connections, giving you more storage options than are typically available. 5.2 and 7.1 sound is supported, as well as VIA Gigabit Ethernet, 10/100 Ethernet and up to eight USB 2.0 ports.

Networking chores are handled by the 3Com Marvell 940-MV00. It is a Gigabit LAN controller, and a PCI device, which means it'll share the bandwidth with other PCI based parts.

Six channel sound is provided by the Realtek ALC655. Past Realtek solutions have provided decent quality, but they tend to rely on the CPU for a lot of tasks... more so than other onboard solutions.

Rounding things out are the rear IO connections. Located here are the two PS/2 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, a couple serial Com ports, one parallel and one game port, a Gigabit LAN Ethernet port, and three sound connections (Line-in/Line-out/MIC).

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