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Shuttle's AN50R motherboard

Thinking outside the cube


THOUGH SHUTTLE'S pride and joy is definitely its XPC line of small form factor barebones systems, the company hasn't completely given up on the ATX platform. As cute, cool, and sexy as Shuttle's little cubes are, their cramped cases and limited expansion capabilities can be a hindrance. Let's face it, there are only so many enthusiasts who can live with a single PCI slot and only a handful of drive bays for their primary system.

As an alternative to its pint-sized XPC SN85G4 for 754-pin Athlon 64 processors, Shuttle is serving up the AN50R, a full-sized ATX board based on NVIDIA's nForce3 chipset. The AN50R isn't cute or cuddly, and it's not the size of a breadbox. However, the board will fit in a wide variety of spacious, drive bay-rich ATX cases with plenty of room to spare. For enthusiasts unwilling to part with multiple PCI cards, hard disks, or optical drives, the AN50R has the potential to be a pretty sweet Athlon 64 platform. Does it deliver? Read on to find out.

The specs
Before we dive into the board itself, let's have a quick look at the spec sheet.

CPU supportSocket 754-based Athlon 64 processors
Form factorATX
ChipsetNVIDIA nForce3 150
InterconnectHyperTransport (3.6GB/s)
PCI slots5 32-bit/33MHz
AGP slots1, 4X/8X AGP 8X (1.5V only)
AMR/CNR slotsNone
Memory3 184-pin DIMM sockets
Maximum of 3GB of DDR400/333/266 SDRAM
Storage I/OFloppy disk
2 channels ATA/133
Serial ATA2 channels Serial ATA 150 via Sil 3112 Serial ATA controller
RAIDSerial ATA RAID 0, 1 support via Sil 3112 Serial ATA controller
Legacy ports1 PS/2 keyboard, 1 PS/2 mouse, serial and parallel ports
USB4 USB 2.0/1.1 ports
2 additional USB 2.0/1.1 ports on PCI back plate header
Firewire1 IEEE 1394 Firewire port via VT6307 Firewire controller
2 additional Firewire ports on PCI back plate header
Audio6-channel audio via nForce3 integrated audio and ALC650 codec
analog front, rear, surround, and center outputs
shared analog line in and microphone inputs
digital S/PDIF output port (Tos-Link)
Ethernet10/100 Fast Ethernet via nForce3 150
10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet via Intel 82540EM Ethernet controller
BIOSPhoenix AwardBIOS
Bus speedsFSB: 200-250MHz in 1MHz increments
AGP/PCI: 66-100 in 1MHz increments
Memory: 100, 133, 166, 200MHz
Bus dividersNone
VoltagesCPU: default, 0.8-1.7V in 0.05V increments
DRAM: default, 2.7-2.9V in 0.1V increments
AGP: default, 1.6-1.8V in 0.1V increments
: default, 1.7-1.8V in 0.1V increments
: default, 1.3-1.5V in 0.1V increments
MonitoringVoltage, fan status, and temperature monitoring

The AN50R has all the usual integrated peripherals, and we'll be going over each in detail.