While Shuttle is not one of the big boys in the motherboard industry, they have been around since 1983, making audio cards, video cards and motherboards. Motherboards are a specialty since Shuttle has produced almost every chipset and form factor. Even though AOpen and ASUS constantly manufacture quality products, a big name does not always guarantee the best motherboard in the market.

As with most motherboard manufacturers, Shuttle has followed up their Apollo Pro 133 board, the AV61, with an Apollo Pro 133A board, the AV64. As shown in the VIA Apollo Pro round-up, the AV64 has many competitors, but the addition of VIA's newest chipset to Shuttle's tradition of motherboards using a variety of chipsets, form factors, shapes and sizes makes for an interesting review.


 

Motherboard Specifications

CPU Interface
Slot-1
Chipset
Apollo Pro 133A
VIA 694X North Bridge
VIA 596B South Bridge
L2 Cache
N/A (on-chip)
Form Factor
ATX
Bus Speeds

66 / 75 / 83
100 / 112 / 124
133 / 140 / 150

Clock Multipliers
2.0x - 8.0x
Voltages Supported
Auto Detect
Memory Slots
3 168pin DIMM Slots
Expansion Slots
0 AMR Slots
1 AGP Slot
5 PCI Slots (2 Full Length)
2 ISA Slots (1 Full Length)
AC'97
N/A
BIOS
Award 6.00 PG

The Good


Click to enlarge

The layout of Shuttle's AV64 is not incredibly striking except for the shortened depth -- barely longer than an ISA slot at 6.75". Shuttle opted to include the typical 5/2/1/0 (PCI/ISA/AGP/AMR) slot configuration. Only two of the PCI and one of the ISA slots support a full length card. Even though it is becoming more common, Shuttle did not include an AMR slot because the 596B South Bridge does not support it. Instead of providing 4 DIMM slots, the AV64 has only 3 which limits the RAM to 768 MB -- more than enough for most users.

The ATX spec is followed closely and almost every cable is placed to minimize clutter. The floppy drive and the HDD connectors are located where they should be, right at the front of the board. The power connector also is placed in front of the memory and chip another step towards a well built system.

There are ten 1200uF capacitors and one 1000uF capacitor located immediately around the CPU slot and four 1200uF and five 1000uF capacitors placed around the DIMM slots. Also, there were three 1000uF capacitors and one 1200uF capacitor surrounding the AGP connector and one among the PCI slots. The popular green heatsink is mounted via spring clips onto VIA's chipset. Shuttle provided a CPU retention mechanism that was not mounted on the board and will hold any Celeron, Pentium II, or Pentium III CPU.

The North Bridge included is the VIA VT82C694X, which handles AGP and CPU interactions. It supports a 1/2 AGP clock divider, running the FSB at 133MHz as well as allowing the memory bus to run at either the FSB frequency, FSB - 33MHz or FSB + 33MHz. The Mobile South Bridge VT82C596B chip, which allows for UDMA 33/66 support on both IDE channels, is located in front of the PCI slots. While some motherboards are now including the highly integrated 686A South Bridge, Shuttle stuck with the 596B. The 686A cuts manufacturing costs by integrating an I/O controller, an ISA bridge, hardware monitoring functions, support for four USB ports along with the usual South Bridge functions all in a single chip.

More Good
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