The Mini-ITX standard has quietly flourished beyond the
sight of the most consumers, but it is beginning to make the transition from
industrial and commercial applications, into the form of a truly compact
alternative for the rest of us. After all, why stick an MP3 player into your car
when you could put in an entire mini-ITX computer system, with graphics, and
support for four SATA hard drives worth of music?!
The biggest complaint about Mini-ITX systems to date has
been relatively low computing power. VIA has lead the Mini-ITX movement with its
C3 & C7 processors, which are extremely power efficient, but a bit
underpowered. Industrial single board computer systems have been stuck in the
Pentium III and Pentium 4 crossroads for some time, so from this perspective Albatron have introduced an excellent 64-bit compatible
platform with a good integrated video chipset. The nVidia Geforce 6150 is
arguably more popular than Intel P965 Express.... and that's what really gives
the Albatron KI51PV-754 motherboard an edge in the mini-ITX segment.
Based around the
multipurpose nVIDIA GeForce 6150 Northbridge and nForce 430 MCP Southbridge, the
Albatron KI51PV-754 motherboard is compatible with Socket 754 AMD Athlon64 and
Sempron processors. It makes sense for Albatron to go the Socket 754 route, due
to the limited space only a single stick of memory is used here.
Measuring no larger than 170 x 170mm in size, the
Albatron KI51PV-754 packs in a lot of features. The most notable are dual
network cards (one Gigabit, one 10/100), an onboard videocard which supports
dual monitors (analog and digital), a 5.1 channel audio controller and four
Serial ATA II (with RAID) and two IDE channels. There is a 32 bit PCI slot for
expansion, which is going to come in handy if the KI51PV-754 is used for
commercial applications in particular.
The layout of the Albatron KI51PV-754 is good, and
installing the system and getting it up and running was none too difficult. Our
only regret was not being able to compare the Albatron KI51PV-754 mini-ITX
motherboard against a VIA Micro-ITX based system...
The socket 754 AMD Athlon64 3200+ processor remained
fairly well placed against a crop of current-model dual core processors in the
office and system-oriented benchmark tests. The KI51PV-754 was the slowest
platform, but didn't lag the other dual-core rigs by grossly large margins for
the most part. More importantly, all the office applications generally ran at
acceptable performance levels. The HD content playback tests illustrated a
shortcoming with the Geforce 6150 and this single core DDR based platform, but
as long as the system was left dedicated to the task it squeezed by. Gaming and
3D benchmarks were deliberately left out. The onboard GeForce 6150 is not a fast
gaming videocard, and gaming really isn't the focus of the KI51PV-754 either.
The Albatron KI51PV-754 mini-ITX motherboard is a very
particular platform for very specific applications; consumer, commercial,
industrial, or scientific. This is not a mini-ITX motherboard for everyone, nor
is it a replacement for the mass-produced small formfactor toaster PCs. If you
need the power of a 64-bit compatible Athlon64 PC in a package that's smaller
than most 1st year Calculus textbooks, look no further. Micro-ITX just got a big
shot in the arm in terms of performance thanks to Albatron and its KI51PV-754
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