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Shuttle's AV40R motherboard



SHUTTLE STUNNED US recently with the quality of its AK31 motherboard, one of the best Athlon motherboards on the market. My review of the board was positive, and soon afterward, I put an AK31 in my own personal system. I haven't regretted it. We then made the AK31 a part of our School Box spec, recommending it unreservedly to our readers. The AK31 was a watershed for Shuttle, whose products haven't always endeared themselves to serious PC hobbyists.

Can Shuttle follow up this success with another good enthusiast's mobo? They've certainly made a gusty pick for their next attempt: VIA's P4X266 chipset. Intel and VIA are locked in a legal battle over VIA's rights to use the Pentium 4 bus, and Intel is pressuring manufacturers not to produce P4X266 boards. That's a shame, because we've already seen that the P4X266's combination of DDR memory and the Pentium 4 is potent. Shuttle's new boards, the AV40 series, are the first brand-name P4X266 motherboards to hit dealer shelves in North America. In releasing these boards, Shuttle has gone where Asus fears to tread.

But is this first production P4X266 motherboard any good? Shuttle claims to have worked closely with VIA in developing this product. Read on to find out whether the two companies have managed to pull together the first viable alternative platform—with DDR memory, no less—for the Pentium 4.

The specs
The AV40 series comes in two flavors: AV40 and AV40R. They're nearly identical, except the AV40R adds a Promise ATA-100 RAID controller. Otherwise, the board's spec is standard fare for an enthusiast mobo. Have a gander:

CPU supportSocket 478-based Pentium 4 processors
Form factorATX 
ChipsetVIA Apollo P4X266 (P4X266 north bridge, VT8233 south bridge)
InterconnectVIA V-Link (266MB/s)
PCI slots5 (none shared)
AGP slots1, 2X/4X AGP w/sidebanding and fast writes
AMR/CNR slotsNone
Memory 3 184-pin DIMM sockets for up to 1.5GB of PC1600/PC2100 DDR SDRAM
Storage I/OFloppy disk
2 channels ATA-100
2 channels ATA-100 — RAID 0 or 1 capable
Ports1 PS/2 keyboard, 1 PS/2 mouse,
2 serial, 1 parallel, 2 USB,
4 additional USB ports via 2 expansion headers,
1 line out, 1 line in, 1 mic in for AC'97 audio,
1 game port
Bus speeds100MHz-160MHz in 1MHz increments
MonitoringVoltage, fan status, and temperature monitoring
The AV40 series includes all of the new tech you get with VIA's P4X266 chipset, including the 266MB/s V-Link interconnect between north and south bridge chips, an ATA-100 controller, and three slots for DDR DIMMs. As they tend to do, Shuttle has thrown in VIA integrated audio, which may save a PCI slot if you're not picky about sound.

The VIA audio codec chip

VIA's 8233 south bridge: I/O central