User review – Alexander Dumas
Ed Note: Brett Wasserman is testing this board and we’ll post it shortly.
In a series of “Price vs. Performance” articles I have written, this article features another great product that will help even the most experienced overclocker. I have been asked numerous times through email and in person, “What’s the key to overclocking?” There are numerous fundamentals involved in the process and many keys to successful overclocking.
What this article focuses on is Albatron, a new motherboard manufacturer out to help you with your overclocking needs – and with a small budget in mind. Having a champagne appetite with a beer drinker’s budget, Albatron is here to help!
I recently was at a vendor of mine and saw a great deal on a motherboard. The brand name, however, was new to me. I asked the vendor if he knew much about the board – he replied no. So I thought I would invest and take a chance. From looking at the board, it seemed to have some great features, but I didn’t know the complete specs on the motherboard.
They did not have the box for the board, as it was on clearance, but they did have an envelope full with the cables, manuals and some other interesting goodies. What most surprised me was a little sheet that explained the motherboard’s overclocking instructions. I was anxious to begin testing this board to see what it could do. Below are the contents that I received with my motherboard:
When I got home, I removed the motherboard from the bag. I immediately noticed the motherboard manufacturer and the chipset was pretty obvious. Reading the model name clearly stated that it contained the Intel 845E chipset. Looking at the board further, I noticed some things that separated this board from your everyday average motherboard. Below is a picture of the board layout:
Looking at the image above, you see the features that are represented in almost every motherboard out there. What you don’t see listed is what will impress you about this board; it has built-in features that some “big dog” manufacturers don’t offer.
Below is a list of the “Special” features of this board. I won’t bore you with the full specs, as this article focuses on the “extras” Albatron gives you:
- BIOS Mirroring: Protects you just in case that BIOS upgrade doesn’t work, or a freak power outage kills the update. This can save the day and is basically like insurance – a “just in case” factor. I know of only one other manufacturer that offers this feature – this should be standard on all motherboards.
- Voice Genie: This is a cool feature. You are able to program the language via jumper dip switches located on the motherboard. This actually talks to you and lets you know if there is a problem. I had a bad stick of memory and purposely installed it into the board, and WHAM! Voice genie started to say: “Please check your memory”.
- Adjustability: Adjustable CPU frequency by 1 MHz increments (100 – 248 MHz), Adjustable VCore (1.1 – 1.85 volts), VAGP (1.5 – 1.6 volts), VMemory (2.5 – 2.8 volts). This gives you every setting you will need to get those high overclocks.
- Watch Dog Timer: This basically resets the board back to factory defaults if your processor, or any component for that matter, locks up or becomes unstable. This saves you from having to open up the case, find the CMOS clear jumper and squeeze your hand in there to reset it.
- Warranty: Albatron offers a 36 Month parts and 12 month labor warranty on all motherboards. They won’t leave you out to dry; they stand behind their products.
Just a quick list of some great features:
- AGP 4X
- (2) USB 2.0 Ports, with added 4 Port cable – useful as USB devices are very popular
- Promise Raid ATA 133 – Run up to 8 IDE devices
- (6) PCI slots – Enough for any needs you may have
- Built in Intel LAN – Not the cheap NICs you find on some boards
- 6.1 Sound – More than adequate for all Windows apps
- Smart Card and Memory Stick reader interface
Sadly, the board only supports PC 1600 – 2100 DDR memory; however, they give you a great BIOS selectable feature that will up the speed of your memory; thus running PC-2700 will still give you great performance when overclocking the system.
I emailed Albatron and they are working on a BIOS upgrade to support HYPER-THREADING. Hopefully this gets done soon! Below is the picture of my actual board; notice (bottom right) the Promise RAID controllers and the dual BIOS chips, for mirroring and backup of your BIOS:
Albatron was founded by one of the co-founders of Gigabyte Inc. Albatron (new company name this year) is a very respectable company located in Taiwan that has been around since 1984. They are now starting to market in the US and seem to be a good contender for the competition.
With the great features they are incorporating into their mainboards, you can’t help but think they will become a major player in the motherboard market. What separates this company apart from the others is the understanding that they know the overclocking community is out there. They are here to help with anything they can, and include documents with your motherboard to help overclocking beginners get started.
I am able to overclock my Intel Celeron NW 2.0 GHz processor to 3.2 GHz, stable, with the Albatron PX845E Pro II motherboard. That is something that I have not been able to do with any other motherboard. Below are the settings and the temperatures of the processor:
This board offers the same high quality components of the other “Big Dogs” of the mainboard market, but still offers you GREAT value for your dollar. The more settings and tweaks available, the higher the likelihood of a successful overclock.
With all the great features built into this board, I can only suggest you go out and try one; the only thing you have to lose is that expensive mainboard in your system now. Please feel free to email me at the link below and ask me any questions you may have regarding any of my articles, or overclocking tips.