Albatron PX915G Pro - Page 5

..:: PX915G Pro Layout: Southbridge & Memory Area ::..

The Southbridge portion of the motherboard is a little on the cluttered side, though due to the lack of any additive components for the PX915G Pro, this area is far cleaner than some of the boards we have dealt with thus far. From a design vantage point, the overall layout of these components has been done very well, and it is clear that quite a bit of time went into making sure that all of the most useful items were located in readily accessible areas, all while keeping the layout crisp and clean. The first component we find is located near the edge of the PCI slots, the ITE IDE RAID controller chip. As we’ll soon see, this ITE chip provides support for two ATA133/100/66/33 hard drives in the various RAID modes.

In the bottom right hand corner of the PX915G Pro’s PCB, we find a series of important items, ranging from large to small. To start things off, the first things that will jump out at you are the yellow IDE connectors. These two connectors are controlled by the ITE IDE RAID controller, as the ICH6R only support one native ATA100/66/33 connection. Below these two connectors, we find an array of headers, most providing for front panel connections to switches, LED’s, case intrusion detectors, and more. There is also an IrDA header, as well a as a three-pin power connection for a front system intake fan.

As we progress further up the PCB, the next components that we’ll come across are all controlled via the ICH6R Southbridge. The ICH6R Southbridge chip is covered by a gold anodized, passive heatsink solution. With these Southbridge heatsinks, we’ve seen some pretty interesting designs. Albatron has included a cutout of the bird insignia they use, which ads a little flavor to the heatsink, though this can’t really be seen in a mounted situation. To the right of the ICH6R, we find all four of the Serial ATA headers, as well as the Clear CMOS jumper, system battery and finally, the IDE connector. To the left of the heatsink, we find both of the yellow USB 2.0 headers which allow for connection of the included expansion bracket to bring USB 2.0 support to a maximum, should the end user require all of those ports.

Finally, we come across the DIMM slots. Here, we can see that, as is typical for DDR motherboards, each channel has been represented with a different DIMM color. Along the right side of the DIMM slots, we find the new 24-pin ATX connection. These PSU’s are still quite difficult / expensive to come by at this point, but the PX915G Pro is backwards compatible with the PSU you’re using today so you’ll have no problems with the switch. All that need to be done is mount the 12V ATX connector so the bottom four pins are left unconnected. Gigabyte made a wise choice by placing a sticker over the bottom four pins just in case, and we’d like to see other manufacturers do this just for added safety for those who dislike reading manuals. This area also houses the Winbond Super I/O chip for control over the legacy I/O ports, as well as the system monitoring responsibilities.

One fact is clear when you take an overall look at the PX915G Pro’s PCB, that fact is that it is readily obvious Albatron put some serious thought into the layout of the system components. Virtually every item that we look for as far as determining design quality goes, Albatron has successfully implemented into the PX815G Pro. Even when we factor in the small things that weren’t done due to design constraints, we still find an excellent motherboard. Unlike many manufacturers, Albatron has not thrown the floppy connector down to the bottom of the PCB, rather they have left it near the ATX power connection higher up on the board. This greatly helps airflow into the case, and over the graphics card, RAM, and processor. RAM can also be added and removed without having to remove the PCI-Express graphics card, a problem that we’ve already seen on some i925X / i915P/G motherboards. Overall, Albatron has done an excellent job with the PX915G Pro’s design.