Albatron K8SLI Motherboard Review :: The Board

07-15-2005 · Category: Motherboards

By Tulatin
Albatron K8SLi Spec Sheet
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Motherboard Photo
Part NumberK8SLi
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ChipsetNvidia nForce4 SLI
North BridgeNvidia nForce4 SLI MCP
SocketSocket 939
Processor TypesAthlon 64, Athlon 64 FX
Number of CPUs1
Front Side Bus1GHz HyperTransport Bus Link
Memory TypeDDR
Memory ChannelsDual
Maximum Memory4GB
External GraphicsPCI Express x16
IGP None
South BridgeNvidia nForce4 SLI MCP
SATA1.5 GB/s
RAID0, 1
Expansion Slots
Form FactorATX
Motherboard Photo

Perhaps the first thing to notice about this motherboard is that it's small. Really, really freaking small. When you're used to seeing full sized ATX SLI boards packed to the gills with ports and features, a tiny board with most of those features such of this comes straight out of left field as a dead set surprise. Unfortunately, in order to make a board as small as Albatron has, a few sacrifices have to be made, features cut, and objects crammed in. Before we begin our typical tour, let us take a moment to examine the aesthetics of the board - which are very reminiscent of those on an ACorp motherboard I had years ago. For their PCB, Albatron has chosen a colour similar to Gigabyte's signature blue, but unfortunately unlike Gigabyte, Albatron seems to throw style to the wind, throwing all manner of colours out on the board. As we progress throughout the tour, we will show you just how many colours Albatron throws together on this board. Let's begin our tour de force shall we?

As per usual, we start at the top left corner of our motherboard, populated by a power circuit, a Winbond chip dedicated to temperature monitoring, a poorly placed fan header and a few ridiculously closely packed lime and grape coloured DIMM slots. Seeing the distance between these slots as well as their respective colouring reminds us those found on DFI's NF4-DAGF - in which the heat spreaders of the nearby memory modules touch each other, spreading heat between DIMMs and starving them of precious airflow. Granted, while these modules will have the benefit of a steady slipstream of airflow care of the CPU fan and exhaust fans, their main source of cooling will be overly heated air. A glance above the DIMM slots shows off what has to be the most strangely placed floppy header to date, one which will cater to those in full towers more than anyone else. The benefit to having such a header here however is that it is much easier to reach than those found on the southern regions of the board.

Albatron K8SLI Motherboard Review
Albatron K8SLI Motherboard Review
Albatron K8SLI Motherboard Review

As we round the corner, going down alongside the right side of the motherboard, we see the ATX connector in its standard placement, shortly followed by the remainder of our storage headers as we travel down the motherboard. Moving down the board a littler more we pass red and white IDE ports as well as red and black SATA ports to come across the front panel block, CMOS battery and speaker header, complimented by another poorly placed fan header. What really surprises us is just how tight the bottom PCI slot is to the edge of the board - a slot that unfortunately will go unused if you decide to utilize a card with a two slot cooler. Above these two white PCI slots are red and blue PCI-Express slots, with blue marking x1 and red marking x16. While space is in fact at a premium on this board, we feel it's sort of ridiculous giving users the choice to either choke their cards of precious airflow, or to put up with the meager onboard amenities. While it is true that PCI-Express add on cards are just around the corner, a good amount of us still have a fair amount of said cards which we aren't ready to give up on just yet.

Albatron K8SLI Motherboard Review
Albatron K8SLI Motherboard Review
Albatron K8SLI Motherboard Review
Albatron K8SLI Motherboard Review
Albatron K8SLI Motherboard Review

As we move up the board a little bit, we come across a trio of audio headers - front panel, SPDIF and Analogue, the Vitesse chip which controls gigabit LAN (why Albatron chose to abandon the inbuilt LAN included with the NForce 4 SLI chipset is a mystery to us) and finally the I/O cluster. If we can take a brief detour, I'd like to point out the incredibly poorly placed auxiliary power header - one that should have been firmly rooted near to the CPU fan header. As to the I/O Cluster itself, that's a whole different sack of potatoes. Unfortunately, for a motherboard that's small on size, this is also one that's small on features. The I/O panel is truly a disappointment to behold - with only a single LAN port, no Firewire and a maximum of 5.1 audio, this board feels more like a budget board than anything else. Considering this disparity of features, and the fact that this motherboard costs just $2 less then the relative feature packed ASUS A8N-SLI, we're beginning to wonder if the small size is worth it. To their end, Albatron has to be both blessed and cursed for the layout of this motherboard - with all of our storage headers splayed along the edge of the board and in one area, it's rather easy to connect all of our peripherals and look tidy doing it. Not to mention, with the USB headers as well as the backup bios header nearby we can foresee the tidiest build in or history. That is, a build that will require gutting both graphics cards whenever a drive needs to be added or removed - as 6800 cards are likely to obscure the nearby ports, and 7800 cards are likely to overshoot the board entirely.

Albatron K8SLI Motherboard Review
Albatron K8SLI Motherboard Review
Albatron K8SLI Motherboard Review
Albatron K8SLI Motherboard Review