can't really review a DDR enabled motherboard
without some DDR RAM can you? Of course
not! We were lucky enough to have our
friends from Crucial
supply us with a 128MB stick of PC1600 RAM.
Take a look...
CLICK IMAGES FOR
first glance, it doesn't look much different than
standard SDRAM, but other than the underlying
technology, there are some subtle differences...
"side-by-side" with a standard stick of
PC133 RAM, you'll notice the DDR stick is missing
a notch. The PC1600 designation on the DDR
stick represents the maximum bandwidth of the RAM,
1.6GB/S. PC1600 DDR RAM is spec'd to run at
100MHz, but the Micron chips used on this module
were 8ns which theoretically should be capable of
125MHz. If you're following the "DDR
Scene", you've probably also heard of PC2100
(2.1GB/S) RAM. This is the designation for
the higher clocked 133MHz products.
Quality and Setup
The AV30 was a snap
to set up. This is a standard ATX board that
will fit in virtually any ATX case without any
modification. All we did was mount it,
tighten a couple of screws and off we went!
Shuttle seems to
have put some thought into the design and layout
of the AV30. The layout and general
workmanship are excellent. The AV30 has our
preferred slot configuration too, 1 AGP and 6 PCI
closer inspection, you'll notice just how many
expansion possibilities you'll have with the
AV30. You'll be hard pressed to fill all of
the AV30's PCI slots when you consider that this
puppy comes with onboard sound and an onboard
10/100 NIC! Gamers will probably opt for a
more powerful sound card, but should you be
looking to build a second system or a basic file
server for your home network the only card you'll
need to buy is for video.
were many other aspects of the AV30 that pleased
AGP slot has a retention clip mounted to it which
does an excellent job of making sure your video
card stays seated properly. If you move your
rig around constantly, or are a LAN gamer, you
definitely want one of these retention clips on
your mobo! Shuttle also placed the audio-in
connectors in an excellent location where they do
not interfere with any slots.
VIA's chipsets have historically run cool, Shuttle
mounted a heatsink on the Northbridge for
increased stability at higher bus speeds. (We
threw a shot of the Southbridge in for good
measure) :) Stability was definitely on the
minds of the Shuttle engineers who designed the
AV30, just take a look at the size of the
capacitors around the Socket 370 connector!
Providing a clean, even supply of power to your
CPU is a key component of a stable motherboard
(especially when overclocked), and these large
capps help do just that. Make sure you're
using a high quality power supply for best
results...remember, G.I.G.O (bonus points for
anyone who knows what that stands for!)
also did something that we love and wish every
manufacturer would start doing. They placed
all of the case, power and drive connectors all
the way to the edges of the board. This
doesn't sound like a big deal but it makes for a
very clean case, without any wires draped over
your expansion cards or CPU. This
arrangement also makes cooling your rig a bit
easier because there are no cables over the board
to hinder airflow.
snapped a couple of shots of the DIMM slots too...
not too much to much to say here, but it sure is
cool to see "Double Data Rate RAM"
printed on a motherboard!
BIOS and Quake 3