Albatron KI690-AM2: A Mini-ITX Powerhouse

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Albatron KI690-AM2: A Mini-ITX Motherboard For The Masses

September 14, 2007 by Lawrence Lee

Product Albatron KI690-AM2 motherboard
Manufacturer Albatron
Street Price US$250??

VIA developed the Mini-ITX platform in 2001 to take advantage of low power C3 processors they had acquired from Cyrix. With boards measuring only 17cm by 17cm and processors that could be cooled passively, VIA created a niche market for compact, power efficient, and low noise systems. However, VIA's C3 (and more recently the Eden and C7) processors were never powerful enough to entice mainstream users, so Mini-ITX remained beloved by a small dedicated group of users, and for the most part, it was ignored by the rest.

Albatron, a relatively small player as manufacturers go, previously attempted to capitalize on and expand the Mini-ITX market with an AMD Socket 754 motherboard powered by the Geforce 6150 chipset, the KI51PV-754. While it piqued the interest of many, it came a little too late. With Socket 754 all but obsolete, the choice of CPUs was severely limited and underpowered. Now Albatron has released the KI690-AM2, to bring high performance and Mini-ITX together.

This is not the first attempt at such a marriage. There have been a number of mini-ITX boards for Intel processors, including the AOpen i945GTt-VFA m-ITX C2D motherboard that we reviewed some time ago. It is the first AM2 platform for mini-ITX, however, and the first to take advantage of the superior features of the AMD 690G/SB600 chipset, which include about the best integrated graphics performance yet to be offered on any platform.

SPECIFICATIONS (from the Albatron web site)
Chipset AMD 690G/ SB600
Socket AM2
Form Factor Mini-ITX (170x170 mm)
FSB/Hyper Transport 1000+ MHz
Memory 2* DDRII SO-DIMM 667/533 (Dual Channel)
Int. GFX Y (ATI Radeon Xpress1250)
USB 8* USB 2.0/1.1 Ports (4 ports by optional cable)
LAN Marvell Gbit LAN
Sound 8 Channel High Definition Audio
South Bridge Speed 1* ATA 133 channel
Serial ATA 4* SATAII 3Gb/s Channels
IEEE 1394 2* IEEE1394 Channels (1 port by optional cable)
BIOS Mirror N
Voice Genies N

The KI690-AM2 combines the speed of AM2 Athlon 64 and X2 processors with formidable high definition audio and video playback provided by AMD's Radeon X1250 integrated graphics, all in one petite package. Interestingly, the board makes use of notebook SODIMM memory, presumably to save space. Albatron includes almost every feature one would need: gigabit ethernet, high definition audio, Firewire, even RAID functionality. However with its size, comes limitations. There is only one PCI expansion slot and two slots for memory, which is about the norm for mini-ITX.

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