Albatron is a brand that many might not yet be familiar with. Although Albatron has been around for some time itâ€™s only about 18 months ago that it started making motherboards and graphics cards. Prior to this Albatron mainly manufactured display products.
So why did Albatron move in to the motherboard and graphics card market?
Well, that is a good question, but the answer is too complicated to explain in this review. However, the short version is that some key employees from a successful motherboard manufacturer jumped ship and landed at Albatron and this board is one of the resulting products.
First impressions when you open the box arenâ€™t awe inspiring. In fact it looks like a board from any other motherboard manufacturer and sadly there is neither a setup sheet, nor an in depth manual supplied. This means that the KX18D Pro II is definitely off limits for first time PC builders. It should however not be to intimidating for the more experienced user and the board was fairly straight forward to set up once we got going. The Bios is a bit unconventional and offers a lot of advanced settings that yet again can be a bit daunting, so the rule of thumb here is donâ€™t change anything if you donâ€™t know what it does.
On the features side, the KX18D Pro II looks very similar to Abitâ€™s NF7-S 2.0.
Both boards feature the nVidia nForce2 Pro chipset with MCP-T southbridge and integrated Dolby Digital support, as well as the same Realtek ALC650 audio codec.
Youâ€™ll also find the same Silicon Image S-ATA controller as on the Abit board and itâ€™s also utilizing the integrated nVidia 10/100Mbit Ethernet. The KX18D Pro II also features two Firewire ports on a rear bracket.
If you only looked at the features so far you could quite easily think that the Abit and Albatron are the one and the same, but this is not the case. The Albatron offers some extra features, including the handy BIOS Mirror function, which gives you two BIOS chips on the motherboard. This comes in handy in case something goes wrong when youâ€™re upgrading your BIOS or you get some kind of a Virus that damages the BIOS. Voice Genie is yet another of Albatronâ€™s unique features that offers voice diagnostics in case something has gone wrong, but this requires you to plug in a speaker to the motherboard first.
The layout is nothing out of the ordinary, with most things where you would expect them to be, but the power connector is in an awkward place and only two spare fan connectors lets the package down a bit.
The KX18D Pro II might not be the most amazing board here when it comes to features, but it does amazingly well in the benchmarks and placing second fastest in Sysmark 2002. Not content with that the Albatron also goes on to grab shared first place in 3Dmark 2001 SE. It also exhibited the fastest CPU score in PC Mark 2002 and some of the best scores in the Sisoft Sandra memory tests.
Overall this is a board for the experienced performance user that knows what he or she wants. Itâ€™s a shame that Albatron didnâ€™t managed to squeeze in a few extra features and a better manual, but itâ€™s still a fast motherboard at a reasonable price.
The Albatron would have won a Recommended Award, had it not been for the fact that we where unable to find a retailer selling it. We have been informed by Albatronâ€™s distributor that the boards should be available soon though.
If you can find a retailer selling this motherboard and want a tweak friendly, fast and affordable base solution, donâ€™t hesitate to get one.