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
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
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
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.