By Elias Plastiras
A beauty of a board for the enthusiast who wants supreme performance and pleasing aesthetics, the Albatron PX865PE Pro II comes fully stocked with seven-channel on-board audio capabilities, Serial ATA and parallel ATA RAID ports. These features reside on an elegant blue printed circuit board, which has a white CPU heatsink retention mechanism and a metal ZIFF socket lever. Colours also distinguish the dual channel memory slots and IDE ports. A striking blue light is present on the cooling fan that sits atop the 865 chipset. Its installation is relatively simple via a menu system on the supplied CD-ROM, although audio drivers have to be installed manually and Windows XP Service Pack 1 needs to be installed for USB 2.0 support. Floppy disks are not provided for the onboard RAID devices, which means you will have to extract them from the CD before installing Windows on a RAID configuration. This board is touted as the Gigabit board from Albatron. The company claims the BIOS will allow the FSB of the CPU to run at 1GHz. As such, there are features to aid the overclocker and backups for when things don’t go to plan, such as a second on-board BIOS that can come to the rescue if a flash process becomes botched. For expansion, hard drives are taken care of by Parallel ATA133 IDE ports in addition to regular Parallel ATA ports, and Serial ATA ports are also provided. There are five PCI slots and four DIMM slots. All up, if you’re looking for a solid board with good features and pleasing aesthetics, this one meets all criteria. The Albatron PX865PE Pro II is distributed by Australia IT. RRP: $297 (inc. GST).
Australia IT: (03) 9543 5855.
By Elias Plastiras
Bluechip Infotech sent ARN’s sister publication, InfoWorld (July 2003, p79) an engineering sample of AOpen’s latest Intel-based board, the AX4SPE Max. Using the 865PE chipset, AOpen has built a fully-featured solution with lots of value-added features that make it a perfect backbone for any enthusiast’s PC case. Its dark styling is by no means the prettiest on the market, and the dark board coupled with tiny writing does it make it hard to identify some pin headers. It also lack the glamour and glitz of flashing or static light patterns. Instead, it has plenty of expansion opportunities via four DIMM slots and six PCI slots. Little features such as a Windows-independent CD and FM player, and a talking BIOS, make this board stand out from the crowd. Safety is covered, too, as AOpen has implemented a dual BIOS setup that allows a restore to be made if a BIOS crash ever occurs. In terms of layout, the memory slots can not be manipulated if a graphics card is installed in the AGP slot, and the IDE and Serial ATA ports are located in close proximity to each other opposite the PCI slots. The latter can be used in a RAID 0 or RAID 1 configuration with up to two drives. AOpen supplies two Serial ATA drive cables, but only one power cable. The board has provision for three fan connectors, and pin headers for front-loading USB and FireWire ports are present. This gives the board a total of eight USB 2.0 ports and up to four FireWire ports. Another nifty feature is the board’s EZRestore program, which is located within the BIOS and can help restore your system if you are ever infected by a virus or experience a major software crash. The AOpen AX4SPE Max ls distributed by Bluechip Infotech. RRP: $349 (inc. GST). Bluechip Infotech: (02) 8745 8400.
With the SiS 648FX chipset, the ASUS P4S800 supports the latest 800MHz frontside bus (FSB) Intel Pentium 4 or Celeron processor with Hyper-Threading technology. Supporting up to 3GB of system memory with the PC3200/2700/2100/1600 DDR DIMMs, high-resolution graphics via an AGP 8X slot, USB 2.0 and six-channel audio features, the P4S800 is an affordable 800MHz-bus compatible motherboard. The ASUS CrashFree BIOS 2 feature now includes the BIOS auto-recovery function in a support CD. Users can reboot their system through the support CD when a bootable disk is not available, and go through the simple BIOS auto-recovery process. The P4S800 now enables users to enjoy this protection feature without the need to pay for an optional ROM. It comes with a two-year manufacturer’s return to base warranty. The ASUS P4S800 is distributed in Australia by Achieva, Cassa, Synnex and Ingram Micro. RRP: $197 (inc. GST).
The GA-8PENXP from Gigabyte Technology supports the latest Intel Pentium 4 processors with 800MHZ FSB and Hyper-Threading Technology. Powered by the Intel’s 865PE chipset, the GA-8PENXP is designed to be the full function platform with excellent performance. The architecture of 800MHz FSB, AGP 8x, dual channel DDR 400, provides a strong framework. The Dual Power System 2 (DPS 2) enhances the computing power and system stability. This platform features Intel PRO/1000 CT Network Connection and delivers optimised network throughput and platform performance. The Serial ATA, IEEE 1394 Firewire and IDE RAID are integrated to provide superior I/O performance and data protection. Contact Gigabyte to locate your nearest distributor. RRP: $385 (inc. GST).
Intel’s D865PERL desktop motherboard harnesses the computing power of the latest Intel Pentium 4 processor supporting Hyper-Threading Technology. Designed for the Intel 865PE chipset, the D865PERL brings new levels of performance to the desktop by combining support for an 800-MHz system bus with dual channel DDR400 and native Serial ATA 150 featuring Intel RAID Technology (optional) that enables faster disk I/O for transfers to storage devices. The D865PERL offers integrated Intel PRO/1000 network connection via a CSA (Communication Streaming Architecture) bus or Intel PRO/100 LAN connection (optional). It features five PCI slots to cater for expansive custom system configurations and future add-in card upgrades, and reduced boot time with the Intel Rapid BIOS boot. Contact Intel to locate your nearest distributor. RRP: Around $175 (ex. GST).
The SL-86SPE-L is Soltek’s flagship motherboard, utilising the Intel 865 ‘Springdale’ chipset. The board provides support for 800MHz Front Side Bus, Hyper-Threading CPUs, AGP 8x and up to 4Gb of 400MHz DDRAM. It includes USB2.0, Serial ATA, 10/100 LAN and six-channel audio. The SL-86SPE-L is available in a violet colour for a limited time. Soltek’s SL-86SPE-L is distributed in Australia by Altech Computers. RRP: $195 (inc. GST).
The IS7 series from ABIT uses Intel’s 865PE chipset to bring the latest in technology to the Intel platform with full support for Dual Channel DDR. The IC7 series (IS7-G, IS7, IS7-E) features four phase power for enhanced overclocking ability, as well as Rubycon capacitors for enhanced product life and reduced RMAs. ABIT provides users with six-channel sound and S/PDIF In/Out for enhanced audio performance. The IS7 series supports AGP 8X, USB 2.0 and offers optional IEEE. The motherboards are distributed in Australia by Altech Computers and Check Sun. RRP: IS7-G — $299; IS7 — $227; IS7-E — $198. (all prices include GST).