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Albatron KX400+ Pro Motherboard (KT333CE)
Author : Wayne Date : 9th December 2002
...Product KX400+ Pro
...Manufacturer Albatron
...Supplier The Overclocking Store
...Price £64.99 +VAT

 

 

 

A Closer Look :

The bundle covers nothing more than the basics which is to be expected at the price. Along with the driver installation CD comes a floppy and IDE cable, poster sized quick instruction guide, a board layout sticker for inside your case, the all important manual and a four port USB2.0 bracket bringing the total to six.

In terms of layout the KX400+ Pro is pretty much identical to the KX400-8X (KT400) we looked at a while back. By modern standards the board is very compact measuring in at just 244x305mm. This is no doubt a good thing for anyone with limited case real estate but it does mean components are perhaps a little more cramped than they would otherwise be.

Again we see the use of a CNR slot but fortunately it doesn't come at the expense of a regular PCI slot, the full compliment of six are available. As with most six slot boards there's no way to add or remove memory without at least unseating your graphics card and lifting it enough for the memory retaining lugs to swing out. The ATX power connector is still badly placed if you're short on PSU lead length and the trend for fitting the CPU socket at 90degrees to its customary orientation persists. This is a major flaw in my book as it more or less rules out fitting and removing your heat sink in a mid tower case due to the limited gap between the sink and the side of the PSU. In fact the same problem applies even in our Antec full tower due to the PSU placement and completely rules out such HSFs as the more recent Cooler Masters with their unique long, angled retainers.


Click For a Larger Image

Socket clearance is actually very good but again the orientation of the socket means much of that clear area will go to waste with most coolers.

 

The placement of the FSB selection jumper can be fiddly if, like me, you're blessed with fat fingers. This jumper allows the selection of 100MHz. 133MHz or 166MHz FSB processors.

Albatron's Gigabyte heritage shows in their implementation of a feature they call BIOS Mirror. Normally associated with Gigabyte boards BIOS mirror is simply a second BIOS chip that can be used to boot the system should the original BIOS become corrupt, possibly due to a failed flash or virus. It also restores the initial BIOS chip to its original state so making it bootable again. To avoid any problems with both chips becoming defunct the second BIOS chip is read only.

Another more unusual feature is what Albatron call their "VoiceGenie" function. This replaces the confusing series of POST beep error codes with actual spoken prompts in any of four languages, English, Chinese, Japanese and German. These are fairly basic phrases that don't offer any more information than other POST debug options, they're just easier to understand. The language selection for Voice Genie and the BIOS Mirror function are set using a bank of four DIP switches.

Only a single motherboard fan header is available as two of the three are used by the CPU and North Bridge fans. If you connect your HSF directly to a four pin PSU Molex than this leaves two available for use.

The connectors are your standard fayre and there's nothing here you'll be unfamiliar with. As you can see you get your standard PS/2 ports, COM ports, printer port, twin USB2.0/1.1 ports, MIDI/Gameport and audio jacks. To take full advantage of the board's 6 channel audio you'll need to plug in an audio header for the extra ports. Audio was actually very good and is probably perfectly suitable for most users, even gamers!

 

The fact that the KX400+ Pro once again features only two rather than the now common three phase power circuit leaves me wondering about its overclocking potential. We'll see how the board performs on that score later on.

 

The AGP retention mechanism relies on the more recent sliding design rather than the spring loaded retainers we've seen on most boards. Although this makes locking your graphics card in place fast, easy and secure it can be awkward to slide the mechanism back again to unlock it should you need to remove the card later.

Overall the layout is good but the clustering of the IDE and floppy connectors makes for fiddly cable connection and the ATX power placement and socket orientation spoil the party. If you're of the "fit and forget" category and you're unlikely to want to access your case innards on a regular basis these aren't big negatives. Even the CPU and heat sink can be fitted before you install the motherboard in this case and you'll never face the problem of trying to get access to it. For reviewers, tinkerers and enthusiasts however it's a right royal pain in the lower portions.

 

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