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Shuttle's AB30R motherboard

A Pinto with racing stripes


SHUTTLE HAS HAD STRING of successes of late. First, we were surprised with their AK31 Athlon board. Next came a very fast VIA P4X266-based AV40R. Then, almost out of nowhere, came the SV24 bare-bones system that has spawned a bit of a cult following. Today, we look at another Pentium 4 offering from Shuttle, the AB30R, which uses Intel's 845 SDRAM chipset.

The 845 chipset is targeted mainly at mainstream and corporate markets. With its reliance on cheap PC100 SDRAM, the 845 is supposed to encourage the adoption of the P4 in more price-sensitive markets that desire the Intel brand name. Unfortunately for Intel, VIA decided to throw a wrench in the works with its DDR-based P4X266 chipset.

We took a look at the chipsets available for the Pentium 4 back in September, and the results weren't that pretty for Intel's 845. Though certainly a more economical solution than RDRAM-based platforms, the 845 SDRAM just can't give the P4 the memory bandwidth it craves. VIA's DDR offering was phenomenal in our comparison, as it closely matched the 850 RDRAM platforms in performance.

With so many DDR-base VIA P4X266 boards already on the market, including one from Shuttle, can the AB30R bring anything worthwhile to the table? Read on to find out.

The specs
Shuttle has wrapped up a pretty complete package with the AB30R. Check it out:

The spec sheet reads like something we might expect from a more enthusiast-oriented board, and that clashes a little with what might be important for the 845 chipet's target market. How many corporate desktops and home users need RAID? Furthermore, how many are going to want to run 3GB of RAM in a single-processor P4 machine? The CMI 8738 3D audio chip is also an interesting inclusion, though; we'll talk more about that chip below.

For what it's worth, I've not been able to find the AB30R for sale online, only the AB30—essentially the same board, but without a RAID controller.

In short, there's nothing missing from the AB30R's spec. It actually includes a few extras.