Below the CPU socket area is the Chipset with active cooling as well as the dual ATA-133 IDE connectors. As mentioned previously, the Chipset used by the Albatron K8SLI is the NVIDIA nForce4 SLI edition. Unfortunately, they had not implemented the SLI x16 edition in time, which allows both graphics cards to use x16 lanes when in SLI mode, rather than restricting the bandwidth to x8 when two graphics cards are installed. Alternatively, Tyan had implemented the nForce Professional 2200 Chipset on its Socket 939 Tomcat K8E-SLI S2866, which we will be comparing in-depth later on in this article. The nForce4 also provides the NVIDIA Firewall, SATA 2.0, RAID, and USB 2.0 support among many other items. The active heatsink is gold colored, and is topped with a small fan that is powered by a 3-pin fan header. Moving onto the SATA 2.0 connectors that are positioned below the primary and secondary IDE connectors, the Serial ATA ports feature RAID 0, 1, 5, and 0+1 abilities. Also near these ports are two USB 2.0 headers as well as the main Phoenix BIOS chip, and the pins for the additional ABS (Albatron BIOS Security) card and the clear CMOS jumper. The ABS chip is an installable module that allows the user to backup their BIOS configuration and resort to that in the event their first BIOS is no longer operable due to a failed overclock or a problem during the BIOS flashing process. Running along the bottom edge of the PCB is the system panel header as well as a chassis fan connector and CMOS battery.
Moving onto the expansion slots, there are two PCI Express x1, two PCI Express x16, and two PCI slots. As mentioned previously, the PCI Express x16 slots are both limited to x8 speeds when two graphics cards are installed, due to Chipset limitations. Unlike the Tyan Tomcat K8E-SLI that required the SLI paddle to be switched when changing between a single and dual graphics cards, the Albatron K8SLI uses a digital selector to automatically change the PCI-E lanes. Silk screened in white between the two x16 slots is "Albatron" and "K8SLI". The two PCI Express x1 slots have one positioned between the two SLI connections while the other is at the top of the expansion slot area. With the motherboard being skinnier than most Socket 939 motherboards, the Chipset is positioned in the same area as this top PCI Express x1 slot, which may cause concern depending upon what expansion card is installed. For example, if a Matrox Millennium G550 were to be installed, the Chipset heatsink would interfere with the installation due to the longer PCB. Moving onto the area between the expansion slots and end of the PCB, there is a Realtek ALC655 CODEC and VITESSE Gigabit LAN ASIC. Jumping to the rear I/O panel, the ports offered are keyboard and mouse PS/2, four USB 2.0, one RJ-45 Gigabit LAN, three analog audio, one RCA, one Parallel, and one COM port. Although the motherboard may not offer such additions as IEEE-1394 Firewire, it certainly is a packed motherboard when it comes to all of its features, and with the PCB size, some of the areas are quite constrained. As we had mentioned earlier, there are several possibilities for conflict so if you are planning on picking up this motherboard it is important to check for problematic areas with your components first.
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