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Shuttle Spacewalker AE23 i815EP Motherboard
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Date: Dec 15, 2001
Section:Motherboards
Author: HH Editor
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The Shuttle Spacewalker AE23 i815EP Motherboard - Page 1

The Shuttle Spacewalker AE23 i815EP Motherboard
A Diamond in the Rough...

By Jeff Bouton
May 9, 2001


 

Since 1990, the Taiwan based Shuttle Computer Group Inc. has been producing high quality computer components. Providing a wide variety of products ranging from Video cards, motherboards, memory modules, and accessories has allowed Shuttle to profit in an increasingly competitive market. Their Spacewalker series of motherboards has been winning awards for several years for both quality and performance. Tonight we'll be taking a look at yet another addition to the Spacewalker family, the Shuttle Spacewalker AE23.

The AE23 is an i815EPO based motherboard that offers a good balance between quality and performance. We had the opportunity to drop this board into our rig and give it spin. Little did we know, we were in for a few surprises. Read on a little further to see what we found.



 
Specifications / Features of the Shuttle AE23
Intel Inside

 

Chipset
Intel 815EP/82801BA

Form Factor
ATX
Size: 305mm x 241mm

Processor
Socket 370
Intel PPGA/FC-PGA Celeron 300 ~ 533+MHz/ 66 MHz FSB
Intel FCPGA/FC-PGA Celeron 533 ~ 700+MHz/ 66 MHz FSB
Intel FC-PGA Pentium III 500 ~ 1GHz/ with 100/133 MHz FSB

Expansion Slot
1 x 4XAGP
6 x PCI
1 x CNR

Memory
3 x DIMM
Supports PC133 SDRAM up to 512MB

On board I/O Controller
1 x Floppy port
1 x VGA
2 x Serial port (16550 fast UART compatible)
1 x Parallel port (SPP, EPP, ECP port)
4 x USB port
1 x Game port
Li/Lo/Mic
IrDA Header
On board IDE Controller
Supports PIO Mode 4 and DMA Mode 2
Supoorts UDMA 33/66/100 IDE interface
Transfer rate up to 100 MBytes/sec

Ultra DMA/ 100 IDE Ports
2 x Ultra DMA/100 Bus Master IDE
80-pin Cable Backward Compatible
Supports ATAPI CD, CDR, CDRW, LS-120

Onboard audio
AC97 Audio

Bios
4MB Bios with full ACPI, APM, DMI, Green, PnP
CPU FSB/Multiplier Ratio & Boot Media Selections

Hardware monitor
Core voltage monitoring
CPU temperature monitoring
3 x Fan speed control
2 x Fan Power On/Off control

Other features
K/B and Mouse wake up
Wake-On-Ring
Wake-On-Alarm
Power fail resume
Support 1.2MB, 1.44MB, 2.88MB floppy
Hardware monitoring
Support 4X AGP

 

The Shuttle Spacewalker AE23 Motherboard ships with a standard Users Manual, a Floppy Drive Cable, and one 80-Pin Hard Drive Cable.  The package also includes a CD that contains chipset drivers, AC97 audio drivers, and a synthesizer utility. 

We were a little disappointed to see the a USB adapter was not included in the package.  Often with motherboards that boast additional USB connections on the motherboard, an adapter is provided to allow you to easily take advantage of the additional ports.  We've already documented in several other reviews that this adapter has proven to be a little difficult to locate in the after market.  We hope that Shuttle decides to start providing this adapter in future motherboard releases.

Quality, Installation, and The Bios

 

 
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The Shuttle Spacewalker AE23 i815EP Motherboard - Page 2

The Shuttle Spacewalker AE23 i815EP Motherboard
A Diamond in the Rough...

By Jeff Bouton
March 22, 2001


 

Quality
This Thing is Pretty...

When I first opened the package of the AE23 I was immediately taken by it's layout.  We have seen many boards come through our labs, and we have to say the AE23 stands out when it comes to the neat layout of its components.  Usually we report on how the capacitors were so close to the socket that we need to bend them a little to get a large cooler installed.  This was not the case with the AE23.  There should be little concern about installing even the largest of coolers with this board.

Shuttle outfitted the AE23 with 1 AGP slot, 6 PCI slots, and a CNR slot, allowing for maximum upgradeability.  This is particularly nice when you figure that if you install an AGP card and  a CNR card, you'll still have 5 usable PCI slots for your other peripherals.  The AE23 also comes with three fan headers for a CPU cooler, a Chassis fan and one additional component, whether it be another chassis fan or card cooler.  We were a little curious of the placement of these headers though.  We are unsure why, but Shuttle chose to place one of the fan headers between the 4th and 5th PCI slot.  It is not uncommon for new boards to provide a fan header close to the AGP slot to allow for powering the videocards cooler off-board, however the placement of this fan header makes it a stretch if this was what you wanted to do.  Although three fan headers is adequate, the placement of these headers is crucial and we feel that Shuttle could have placed the third header in a more convenient location.

In general we were impressed with its overall design, but the one thing that drives me crazy is having to remove your video card to change your RAM because the retention clip hits the video card.  This was the case with the AE23.  This may not be an issue with a shorter card, but with our GeForce 2 Ultra there was no changing the RAM without taking the video card out.  This isn't a huge inconvenience, but with the extra room on this board, shifting the DIMM slots over 1/4th of an inch would have been a welcomed touch.

Aside from a few minor layout issues, the AE23 has an excellent design overall and has been well constructed.
 
Installation and Setup 
Easy as pie...

Installation

We it comes to the installation of the AE23, there is very little to report.  This board fit in our ATX case perfectly.  When it came to the installation of Windows ME, the process also went smoothly with no errors or erratic behavior.  The Shuttle Spacewalker AE23 motherboard is a breeze to install.  Although there were several jumper banks on this model board, the AE23 comes preconfigured for easy installation.


The Bios

The bios of the Shuttle AE23 Motherboard is based on the standard Award Version 6.00PG.  There are features of this bios that we really liked and a few that we didn't.

The hardware monitoring capability of this board is excellent.  When we enter the PC Health Status screen we can get an easy glimpse of key temperature and voltage readings.  If we chose to, we could even set a maximum CPU temperature alarm that would automatically shut the system down if the limit was exceeded.  This feature is particularly handy when overclocking the system, the last thing anyone wants to do is fry their new board or CPU.  Surprisingly, Shuttle didn't include any monitoring utility that runs within Windows though.  This type of utility has become quite common among motherboard manufacturers these days and was a definite disappointment to see that one wasn't included on the CD that came with the board.  There is an older utility available for download at the Shuttle site, but its features didn't impress.  However, Winbond's Hardware Doctor worked like a charm with the AE23. 

       

Another area that we found to be a bit weak is the Frequency/Voltage Control.  First off, the Front side bus frequencies are not adjustable in 1 MHz. increments, a feature that is very helpful when fine tuning an overclock.  Instead, the board is adjustable in increments of roughly 4 or 5 MHz. depending on the speed.  The manual for this board listed the bus speed options ranging from 66MHz. to 166MHz. , but we found our options stopped at 145MHz.  There was also a lack of voltage adjustments with the AE23, therefore limiting our maximum overclock. 

The key features that make any board a good over clocking candidate are bus speed adjustments in 1 MHz. increments and voltage adjustments.  We were truly sorry to see that these were not present with the AE23.  Let's step on down to the Overclocking section to see if these features were sorely missed in our quest for more MHz...

On To Some Overclocking

 
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The Shuttle Spacewalker AE23 i815EP Motherboard - Page 3

The Shuttle Spacewalker AE23 i815EP Motherboard
A Diamond in the Rough...

By Jeff Bouton
May 9, 2001


 

System Performance
Busines Winstone, Content Creation, & Quake 3

The first benchmark we ran was Business Winstone 2001, a benchmark that tests a systems overall performance when running 32-bit applications.  Lets take a look and see how it faired...
 

Business Winstone


 

As you can see, the AE23 scored an excellent 33.8 and left the DFI board behind.  The AE23 topped the DFI board by a gain of 25%!  That's a pretty nice jump if you ask me.  Now lets move on to the next benchmark, Content Creation Winstone.  This program benchmarks a systems overall performance when running intensive graphics based programs like Adobe Photoshop 5.5 and Macromedia Director 8.  With such positive results with Business Winstone, we were eager to continue...
 

Content Creation


 

Once again we found the AE23 easily handled the task, posting an impressive score of 37.3.  The AE23 motherboard overcame the DFI board, besting it by an impressive 18%.  But let us not forget that all work and no play makes for a dull day (or something like that).  We know that this board has proven that it is ready to work, but how about play?  Our next benchmark should put that question to rest.  We ran the venerable Quake 3 Time Demo 001 that has become such a standard that no explanation should be necessary.  For this test we ran various resolutions with the the quality set to high.
 

Quake 3


 

You have to hand it to the DFI CS60-EC, it wasn't about to be shut-out of this one.  The two boards both handled the intensity of Quake 3 quite well.  With out a doubt, using the Shuttle Spacewalker AE23 and a quality video card will result in a competent gaming rig.
 


 

After giving the Shuttle Spacewalker AE23 a thorough inspection and making it run a few laps around the benchmark track, we feel pretty good about it.  The AE23 is a premium crafted board that is a pleasure to use.  Although some of the bios features were limited, in our opinion, the boards performance speaks for itself.  Unless you are a hardcore overclocker, the overall benchmark results were above average for an i815EP based mother board and would surely please anyone who is looking for a solid motherboard to base a system on.  For excellent quality and above average performance, we give the Shuttle Spacewalker AE23 a Hot Hardware Meter Rating of a...
 

 

Speak your mind quiet boy! Get in the H.H. Conference Room already!

 

 

 
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The Shuttle Spacewalker AE23 i815EP Motherboard - Page 4
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