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Albatron K8X890 Pro

Board Revision: 0.0

BIOS Version: n/a

The K8X890 Pro was the first board to reach our lab with VIA's new PCI Express chipset K8T890 Pro. Albatron restricts itself to the standard PCIe features of the Northbridge, and thus comes with a x16 slot for the graphics card and a x4 slot for other peripheral cards. While most multimedia expansion cards will certainly get by with just x1 PCIe, the x4 PCIe slot is intended most of all for network and mass storage controllers.

Beyond this, the board boasts nothing spectacular. Albatron includes a Gigabit network chip from Marvell and a FireWire chip from VIA. Also on board is a high-end PCI audio controller from VIA (VT1720), so the mere three PCI slots should be sufficient. Users with several hard disks might miss an extra controller, but the two SATA ports (with RAID support) and two UltraATA/133 channels are enough for most purposes.

All connections are clearly color-coded, which making the board as bright as a Christmas tree, but also makes it a lot easier to plug in fiddlier cables like the power and reset switches. One special feature of this board is the fourth "power width modulation" phase of the voltage regulator module, which is easily installed on the board. Unfortunately, however, our test unit did not contain the motherboard's entire standard package, so we cannot comment on it.

The board's performance in the test was within the anticipated range. Due to the integrated memory controller, the processor has little room for fluctuation. Only the new PCIe interface could make a difference, but graphics bandwidth is no criterion for today's applications. In the final analysis, the Albatron K8X890 Pro ranks in the middle of the pack, although there is surely some room for improvement.