Albatron KI690-AM2: A Mini-ITX Powerhouse

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TESTING

Test Setup:

  • AMD X2 3800+ - with stock AMD heatsink/fan @ 8V (2.0Ghz, 65W)
  • Albatron KI690-AM2 - 128MB allocated to integrated graphics*
  • AData 512MB PC2-5300 memory
  • Corsair ValueSelect 1024MB PC2-5300 memory
  • Fujitsu MHT2080BH hard drive (2.5", 80GB, 5400RPM, SATA)
  • Seasonic SS-300SFD 80 Plus power supply
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium - 32-bit

*The Aero Glass feature in Vista was disabled during testing. To enabled Aero, more than 128MB needed to be assigned to video memory. This was not a huge issue for us, but we feel it is worth mentioning.

The KI690-AM2 was tested in various states: Off, sleep, idle (with Cool N' Quiet enabled), video playback, and full load using two instances of CPUBurn K7. System power consumption was measured at the wall using a Seasonic Power Angel. We also examined CPU usage during video playback to see how well the integrated graphics handled different clips encoded with the popular H.264 codec, and the up and coming VC-1 codec. Clips were played with Windows Media Player 11 and CPU usage was measured using the Windows Task Manager for the duration.

The open testbed measured 25 dBA from a distance of one meter. The primary cause of noise was obviously the AMD stock fan (unmistakable, even at 8V), with the power supply fan coming in second. If used as a HTPC, it should be easily drowned out by a movie even playing at low volume. For a compact desktop replacement, this noise level may not be acceptable. SpeedFan reported Core temperatures of 33°C idle and 53°C load (20°C ambient). These are not great numbers, but not bad either; a third party heatsink would be ideal, but choices could be limited due to the somewhat restrictive area, especially in a low height horizontal HTPC case. The chipset heatsink on the other hand was lukewarm to the touch, even during load.

Video Playback Test Suite

BBC's HD in Full Bloom is a 720p clip encoded with H.264. It features time-lapsed photography, mainly of various flowers blooming with vibrant colors and high contrast.
(H.264, 1280x720, 24fps, ~6200kbps)

The Rush Hour 3 trailer is a 1080p clip encoded with H.264. It has a good mixture of light and dark scenes, interspersed with fast-motion action and cutaways.
(H.264, 1920x816, 24fps, ~10100kbps)

The Coral Reef Adventure trailer is a 1080p clip encoded in VC-1 using the WMV3 codec (commonly recognized by the moniker, "HD WMV"). It features multiple outdoor landscape and dark underwater scenes.
(VC-1 (WMV3), 1440x1080, 24fps, ~7700kbps)

The Microsoft Flight Simulator X trailer is a 720p clip encoded in VC-1. It's a compilation of in-game action from a third person point of view. While the source image quality is poor compared to the other videos in our test suite, it was one of the few decent length clips we could procure encoded using the Windows Media Video 9 Advanced Profile aka WVC1 codec, a more demanding implementation of VC-1.
(VC-1 (WVC1), 1280x720, 60fps, ~12200kbps)


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