MetkuMods

Albatron K8X800 Pro II

Author: Antti Valkeinen
Published: 15.02.2004
Manufacturer: Albatron
Product group: Motherboards

Features:

IDE and SATA controllers:


VIA VT8237

VT8237 provides two IDE-channels as well as two SATA ports with RAID o and 1 support. There are no additional controllers either for IDE or SATA, so you just have to manage with these or buy add-on card. I suspect that in near future two SATA ports will not be enough, but nowadays you can probably manage, at least I do.

I tested all controllers as usual. For IDE I used IBM 80GB 120GXP HDD and for SATA tests I used Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 SATA HDD. Next graphs shows HDTach 2.7 results.

HDTach 2.7

 Average read speedCPU Utilization
DFI Infinity 875 ICH5R SATA46.2MB/s2.7%
Albatron K8X800 Pro II VT8237 SATA47.0MB/s42,6%
Epox 8HDA3+ Silicon image 3114 SATA46.8MB/s40,4%
Shuttle AN50R Silicon image 3112 SATA46.9MB/s35,5%
DFI Infinity 875 HighPoint 372N39.4MB/s2,3%
DFI Infinity 875 ICH5R PATA39.1MB/s3%
Albatron K8X800 Pro II VT8237 PATA39.2MB/s41,2%
Shuttle AN50R nForce3 SPP PATA38.3MB/s32,9%

Everything else seems to be in order except CPU utilization, which is almost on different scale than DFI's results. It is quite possible that CPU utilization results aren’t right in this case. I measured about 4% CPU usage just doing normal copy paste on rather large 300MB file, so it's probably that HDTach 2.70 doesn't measure CPU Utilization right.

I'm quite happy with VT8237 IDE and SATA features. It's also nice that you can use RAID 0 or 1 with SATA.

Audio:


VIA Envy24PT

Envy24PT is one of the best integrated audio controllers available. Combined with VT1616 it provides K8X800 Pro II very solid audio performance with moderate analog sound quality. With this combo you'll get 7.1 analog audio and both optical and coaxial digital out and inputs.

Compared to nForce2 MCP-T Soundstorm Envy24PT lacks of Dolby Digital encoding but instead of it you'll get 24-bit resolution and 96kHz sampling rate. Chip also supports 3D audio standards like A3D, EAX 1.0 and EAX 2.0.

RightMark Audio Analyzer 5.1 Analog

 General performanceNotes
Terratec SoundSystem DMX 6Fire 2496 (dedicated sound card)ExcellentVery good analog outputs
Philips Acoustic Edge (dedicated sound card)GoodOne of the best sound cards when using digital output
CMI9739A (integrated DFI Kt400A)AverageListening experience was better that test results
CMI9739A (integrated Epox PDA2+/DFI Infinity 875)AverageListening experience was worse that test results
Soundmax AD1985 (integrated)Good Probably best integrated audio device.
VIA Envy24PT (integrated)Good Excellent features

Tests are driven by using analog output and input (16-bit 44KHz).

RightMark Audio Analyzer 5.1 Digital

 General performanceNotes
CMI9739A (integrated DFI Infinity 875)ExcellentDigital output is very solid but input could be better
VIA Envy24PT (integrated Albatron K8X800 ProII)ExcellentSolid performance
Philips Acoustic Edge (dedicated sound card)ExcellentRecord holder

Tests are driven by using digital output and input (16-bit 48KHz).

Compared to separate add-on card using Envy24 audio controller (Terratec SoundSystem DMX 6Fire 2496) Albatron's solution is clearly inferior when it comes to analog sound quality. This is due better DACs on Terratec SoundSystem DMX 6Fire 2496. Analog sound quality is although still very nice. Sound quality on digital outputs is superb as suspected.

LAN:


3COM 3C940

I have tried many motherboards using gigabit 3COM 3C940 network controller in the past. In my opinion it is not as good as Intel's gigabit 82547EI using CSA bus, but it has always seemed fast and reliable. And of course, it is not possible to use Intel 82547EI on AMD motherboard so 3COM 3C940 would be my choice too. This time we had also equipment to test this solution on a gigabit Ethernet so we will finally see how it really performs on its limits.

100 megabyte network:

 Transfer rateCPU load
Nvidia MCP 10/100 (AMD)9692kB/sec10-20%
RTL8101L 10/100 (AMD)9692kB/sec30-40%
VIA VT6103 10/100 (AMD)9692kB/sec20-30%
3Com 3C940 10/100/1000 (AMD)9692kB/sec30-40%
3Com 3C940 10/100/1000 (P4)9692kB/sec4-10%
BroadCom BCM5705 10/100/1000 (P4)9692kB/sec4-10%
Intel 82547EI ET LAN (CSA)(P4)9692 kB/sec2-15 %
Intel RC82540EM (AMD)9692 kB/sec5-12%
nForce3 SPP (AMD)9692 kB/sec40-50%

Gigabit network:

 Transfer rateCPU load
3Com 3C940 10/100/1000 (Albatron K8X800 Pro II)19MB/sec70%
3Com 3C940 10/100/1000 (Epox 8HDA3+)19MB/sec35-40%
Intel RC82540EM (Shuttle AN50R)17MB/sec30-40%

Maximum transfer rate was tested using SiSoft Sandra 2003 and CPU load test was performed by transferring big file from machine to machine at the same time as I manually monitored CPU load. Transfer rate is limited by another system which I use on 100Mbps tests.

Results are interesting. Somehow AMD systems suffer from high CPU utilization. 3Com 3C940 on P4 system works flawlessly but on AMD system CPU utilization is quite high. On gigabit Ethernet CPU loads are even higher and transfer rate is nowhere near its theoretical maximum. It seems that there is some problems on our test system, it might be drivers or it might be the hardware itself. High CPU utilization and limited transfer rate on gigabit Ethernet seem characteristic feature of AMD systems, so Albatron K8X800 Pro II isn't any worse than others.

Many manufacturers have added multiple network controllers on their boards. It's actually quite surprise that K8X800 Pro II doesn't have dual LAN. It's although easy and cheap to add 100 Mbps PCI network controller if you need one so nothing to worry about.



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