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Albatron PX875P Pro Albatron PX875P Pro: We take look at Albatron's high-end Pentium 4 motherboard based on the 875P chipset.
Date: June 14, 2004
Manufacturer:
Written By:
Price:

No stranger to enthusiasts, has made quite a name for itself in its relatively short period of offering high-end computer components. The company itself has , founded in 1984 as CHUN, makers of high resolution TVs. In 2002, they switched gears, and renamed themselves to Albatron and almost immediately landed a number of acclaimed partners such as Intel, AMD, VIA, SiS as well as becoming a certified vendor of NVIDIA products.

Of all the Pentium 4 chipsets, the Canterwood (i875P) chipset is easily the most sought after. Although the Dual Channel support is the first thing that comes to mind, the chipset offers every must-have feature we look for when building a topnotch P4 rig. The Albatron PX875P Pro is their top-end offering using this chipset, and we'll be evaluating its features, performance and value in our review today.

Specifications

Intel Pentium® 4 Processor (Northwood/Prescott)
Socket 478 with FSB 400/533/800/1200+( by overclocking) MHz
( FSB1.2GHz + setting available by overclocking )
4 DDR266/333/400 Memory Sockets ( Dual Channel DDR400)
6 Channel AC97 Audio
3Com 10/100 Ethernet LAN
2 Serial ATA150 Channels,
2 ATA100 Channels, up to 4 ATA 100 IDE Devices
8 USB 2.0/1.1 Ports (6 ports by optional cable)

Chipset

North Bridge : Intel 875P
South Bridge : Intel ICH5

Memory: 4 DDR Sockets: DDR400/333/DDR266 ECC/NON-ECC DDR SDRAM up to 4GB

IDE Connectors: 2 ATA100/66 Channels, up to 4 ATA 100 IDE devices

Onboard I/O Connectors

1 x Floppy Connector
3 x USB 2.0/1.1 header (6 ports by optional cable)
1 x CD_IN header
1 x S/PDIF in/out header (S/PDIF in/out cable optional)
1 x CPU fan header ( 1 fan rotation detection function )
2 x System fan headers ( 2 fan rotation detection function )
1 x 10 pin system panel header (Intel spec)
1 x 3 pin Power LED header
1 x Front audio header (Intel spec)
1 x IrDA header
1 x Case Open detection header

I/O via Back Panel

PS/2 keyboard/mouse, 2 x USB(2.0/1.1), RJ45,2 x Com(serial), 1 x Parallel, 1xLine-in/Line-out(Speaker Out)/MIC

Power: 20-pin ATX power connector, 4-pin ATX 12V power connector

Hardware Monitoring: 3 FAN sensors, CPU/System voltages and temperature monitoring

Special Features

Zero Jumper Design
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)
AGP Protection (The AGP Protection can ensure the AGP card voltage to be 1.5V, to protect the mainboard and the AGP card )

The Albatron PX875P Pro

The Albatron PX875P Pro is packed in an attractive box with the board's highlights featured on the front of it. Inside, we have the motherboard, a USB bracket, a SATA power splitter, IDE and SATA cables, a quick start sheet, a sticker with board component placement, a well written manual and driver CD. Missing is a rear IO shield, which Albatron says they will include with the next revision of the board. The rear IO shield that normally comes default with your case should be fine however as Albatron did not deviate from the standard ATX spec.

The layout of the Albatron PX875P Pro follows the basics of Intel's design, which means nothing unusual from past Intel boards we've looked at. I am not sure if I'm sold on a white coloured heatsink retention bracket, but it's something that shouldn't be an eyesore once you've placed a heatsink on top of it. The current revision of the board also offers Prescott support. Sanyo capacitors are used, which are of very high quality and shouldn't have the dreaded leaking capacitor issue.

The PX875P Pro uses the Intel ICH5 South Bridge as opposed to the ICH5R. What this means is that there will be no Intel RAID technology on the board, despite the two SATA and IDE connections. There is also no 3rd party RAID controller present.

The IDE and ATX power connections are placed where we like them, which is near the edge of the mainboard. This should do a fine job of keeping your cables away from the center of the board and out of the way where you'll need access to the parts. Even the placement of the ATX12V power connector is in an ideal location, minimizing the risks of the cable making contact with the CPU fan.

The floppy connection would be better off closer to the IDE connections as those of you with large cases may have some floppy cable length issues if your floppy drive bay is at the top of the case. Right next to the Intel ICH5 South Bridge is the battery and CMOS reset jumper. I do prefer this location as opposed to being between the South Bridge and PCI slots as it makes access to the jumper much easier.

The i875P is passively cooled, and not actively cooled as one might expect given Albatron's marketing claim of the PX875P Pro being a 1200MHz capable board. I will say that the heatsink is huge, which makes me more comfortable when compared to boards that use the 1/4" high heatsinks. I should point out that as we've mentioned in our Cooler Master Hyper 6 review, this cooler will not fit on this board due to the large North Bridge heatsink.

There are four DIMM slots, which support up to a total of 4GB of PC3200 (or lower) memory, both ECC and non-ECC. Of course, PC4000 and PC4400 modules will work, and some early tests have shown us that the board will have no problems accommodating these ram speeds. The board supports Dual Channel configuration, and the ram slots are colour coded to reflect this. There are a number of onboard peripherals, so the five PCI slots should be enough for the majority of users.

Intel's Communication Streaming Architecture is present but not used. Had Albatron implemented it, we would have had Gigabit speeds, but 3Com's Marvell controller which is included is not a Gigabit controller. The 920-MV00 is used, which is a 10/100 controller. It is a PCI device, and it's worth mentioning that it will share the bandwidth with other PCI devices if they are in use.

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. Here we have the mouse and keyboard PS/2 connections, a couple serial and one parallel connection, two USB 2.0, one Gigabit Ethernet, a gameport and 3 audio ports.

The BIOS

The PX875P Pro uses the Pheonix AwardBIOS as the base for their BIOS. The look of it is similar to that of many OEM BIOS implementations, but Albatron provides plenty of options to maximize performance out of the board. The fun begins under the Advanced tabs where many of the system tweaks can be done here.

The Advanced BIOS features controls some of the basic functions but nothing really of note, other than making sure the CPU's cache is enabled and Quick POST being enabled to reduce boot times. Under the Advanced Chipset Features, we have our options to adjust the ram timings.

The CAS Latency options range from 2 to 3. Active to Precharge Delay range from 5 to 8, while the DRAM RAS to CAS Delay can go from as low as 2 to as high as 4. For the DRAM PAS Precharge, our numbers are from 2 to 4. Lower numbers will result in better performance, provided your ram can handle the timings.

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