Taking A Closer Look
- Package Contents
The board comes packaged in a nicely designed, multi-colored box that is sure to stand out on store shelves. Inside the box was a detailed User's Manual, three IDE cables, one floppy cable, a driver CD and a USB expansion header that enables four extra USB ports. Also included on the driver CD is a free, full version OEM copy of PC-Cillin Anti-virus 2002.
This is not the most elaborate software bundle we have seen packaged with a motherboard, however, you must remember that Albatron is targeting the enthusiast market with this board and many enthusiasts are most likely to already own this software. As a rule, they are just looking for a cheap, high performance motherboard without the bells and whistles.
Layout & Features
The Albatron PX845E Pro II features a slot layout of 1 AGP, 6 PCI and 1 CNR slot. As well as this, the board features three DDR266 DIMM slots supporting up to 2GB of memory. We were quite pleased to see that Albatron has managed to not only include 6 PCI slots, but a CNR slot as well. This is because in most cases, a PCI slot has to be given up in order to include any other slots.
The ATX power header has been smartly placed on the right hand side of the DIMM slots. This is a great position for the power header because unlike some competing board layouts, you are not required to run thick power cable over your heatsink/fan unit, restricting airflow. The IDE and Floppy connectors were also smartly placed allowing easy installation of drives once the board has been installed into your PC.
The Northbridge is cooled by a silver heatsink rather than the active cooler we have come to expect from many manufacturers. My guess is that an added fan gave a negligible temperature difference and besides, I'm sure most of you can do without the added noise anyway.
The PX845E features ATA133 RAID support through the Promise PDC20276 controller. This means that the board provides support for a total of four IDE devices on the RAID controller and another four devices on the regular ATA100 controller built into the Southbridge, giving a total of eight IDE devices.
The board also features a 10/100 LAN port. This should come in very handy for many of you and from our internal testing, the controller actually performs quite admirably, even against PCI solutions. Another feature the PX845E touts is an AC'97 audio controller. Providing 6-channel audio, its sound quality is quite decent and is certainly sufficient for general windows use.