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Shuttle AK11 KT133A Based Motherboard
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Date: Dec 15, 2001
Section:Motherboards
Author: HH Editor
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The Shuttle AK11 KT133A Based Motherboard - Page 1

The Shuttle AK11 KT133A Based Motherboard
Too bad this isn't a DDR board!

By, Marco "BigWop" Chiappetta
July 19, 2001

The VIA KT133A has long been the darling of the Athlon overclocking community. With excellent performance, compatibility and stability, at a great price point, is there any question why?  With the recent reduction in DDR RAM prices and wide availability of motherboards based on DDR chipsets from VIA, ALi, AMD and SiS, many people are dismissing the KT133A when considering an upgrade.  For the most part, we'd agree with these people.  The price difference between DDR RAM and standard PC133 SDRAM is marginal, and most DDR capable motherboards are only slightly more expensive than similarly equipped non-DDR boards.  So why should you consider any KT133A based boards?  Well, we'll tell you why...

The KT133A has had a few months to mature.  The chipset Itself has been through a few revisions, there have been a slew of reference BIOS updates, and VIA's 4-in-1 drivers have also evolved quite a bit, and are now far better performing and more stable than earlier versions.  On top of these incremental improvements to the KT133A "platform", many companies have introduced high performing SDRAM modules capable of running at low CAS latencies with Front Side Bus speeds in excess of 150MHz.  A few sticks of this high-performance RAM, coupled with a quality KT133A based motherboard should result in an incredibly fast, stable, inexpensive system, that isn't plagued by the bugs and glitches usually associated with a newly introduced platform.

Today, we'll be taking a look at a KT133A based board from Shuttle, the AK11.  Shuttle has been producing quality boards targeted squarely at the OEM sector for years.  Because some of these older products lacked features that many do-it-yourselfers craved, Shuttle never gained a strong foothold in the enthusiast market.  Shuttle has broken with tradition with the AK11 though...let's put it through the wringer and see what we can find out...

Specifications / Features of the Shuttle AK11
Last of a Dying breed?


Click any Image for an Enlarged view...
  

VIA KT133A Chipset

Processor:
  • Socket A
  • Supports AMD Athlon CPU up to 1.4G+
  • Supports AMD Duron CPU up to 900MHz+

Chipset:

  • VIA VT8363 North Bridge
  • VIA VTC82C686B South Bridge
  • 200/266MHz DDR host interface

Expansion Slot:

  • 1 x AGP (4x AGP)
  • 6 x PCI
  • 1 x CNR

Memory:

  • 3 x DIMM
  • Supports up to 1.5GB of PC100/PC133

On board IDE Controller:

  • Supports PIO Mode 4 and DMA Mode
  • Supports Ultra ATA 33/66/100 UDMA
  • Transfer rate up to 100 MBytes/sec
On board I/O Controller:
  • 1 x Floppy port
  • 2 x Serial port (16550 fast UART compatible)
  • 1 x Multi-mode Parallel port (SPP, EPP, ECP port)
  • 2 x USB port

H/W Monitor:

  • 5 positive voltage
  • 3 temperature
  • 2 fan speed monitoring

Other features:

  • Onboard Audio
  • APM 1.2
  • ACPI 1.0
  • 2 Front Panel USB Connector Header(Optional)
  • 2 Fan Power Connector
  • CPU Voltage Auto Detection (CPU PnP)
  • Suspend to Ram
  • Supports PC99 Requirements
  • Supports AC Power Fail Resume
  • Supports H/W monitor function
  • Wake-On-Ring
  • Wake-On-Alarm

Form Factor:

  • ATX

THE BUNDLE:

Within the AK11's box, you'll fine a standard compliment of accessories.  A CD-ROM containing all of the necessary drivers needed to get your board up and running (VIA 4-in-1s and On-Board Audio drivers), a complete user's manual, an 80-Wire ATA/100 IDE cable and a standard floppy cable are all included.  One thing missing that we felt should have been included was a set of secondary USB connectors.

INSTALLATION:

The Shuttle AK11 installed without incident.  The board complies to the standard ATX form factor, so it mounted perfectly into our mid-tower case.  There are a few jumpers on board that need to be set in order to configure your processor's multiplier and FSB (Front Side Bus) range, but other than that installation was painless.  Looking at the picture below, it is obvious Shuttle put much thought in to the AK11's layout...

This probably isn't the cleanest case you've ever seen, but it demonstrates something we feel is very important.  When a motherboard's connectors and components are well laid out, spending a few extra minutes routing and bundling cables will yield a very clean, uncluttered case.  An uncluttered case in turn allows for maximum airflow, which results in lower overall operating temperatures...and we all know how desirable lower temperatures are, especially when overclocking...

 

The BIOS, Layout and Quality 

 

 
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The Shuttle AK11 KT133A Based Motherboard - Page 2

The Shuttle AK11 KT133A Based Motherboard
Too bad this isn't a DDR board!

By, Marco "BigWop" Chiappetta
July 19, 2001

THE BIOS:

        

        

The Shuttle AK11's BIOS is based on the very common Award 6.00PG revision, found on many Athlon motherboards.  The AK11's BIOS is relatively complete.  Users can tweak memory settings, adjust FSBs in 1MHz increments up to 166MHz and CPU core voltage can be adjusted in .025v increments.  The only notable exception is CPU multiplier control.  To alter the processor multiplier, you'll have to set a bank of jumpers.

Layout and Quality
Some good stuff...

THE LAYOUT:

We gave the Shuttle AK11 a thorough physical inspection before installing it and running our benchmark suite...

                        

The first thing we'd like to point out is that Shuttle chose to actively cool the VIA Northbridge with a decent heatsink and fan from Aavid.  The KT133A does not produce excessive amounts of heat, so active cooling is not a necessity, but it is a welcome addition nonetheless.

Active cooling is useless if the heatsink and chip don' t make proper contact.  When we removed the heatsink, we were pleased to find thermal paste, but as you can see in the above photo, there wasn't enough applied to make proper contact.

                        

The AK11 has our favorite slot configuration, 1 AGP, 6 PCI and 1 CNR slot.  A configuration like this allows for a maximum number of expansion possibilities.  The AK11 is also equipped with on-board AC-97 compliant audio.

   

As we continued our tour around the Shuttle AK11, we found quite a few things we liked about it's layout.  All of the connectors are placed in excellent locations, spread around the far edges of the board.  The case connectors are clearly labeled, the audio connectors are out of the way, and the IDE connectors are mounted parallel to the edge of the board.

                        

Even the ATX power connector is well placed, and shouldn't get in the way of your CPU cooler. There is also plenty of room around the socket A to accommodate a large cooler, we had no problem mounting our GlobalWin WBK38.  Notice the large power capacitors around the CPU socket and power array as well. These caps "filter" the current eliminating spikes and valleys that hinder stability.  Also worth mentioning is that the Shuttle AK11 utilizes a 3-Phase power array.  3-Phase power spreads the load across 6 M.O.S.F.E.T.s (Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistor) to insure clean power and long life. 

The Shuttle AK11 has four strategically placed fan headers spread across the board.  We especially liked the one directly between the AGP and first PCI slots..

Time For Some Numbers...

 
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The Shuttle AK11 KT133A Based Motherboard - Page 3

The Shuttle AK11 KT133A Based Motherboard
Too bad this isn't a DDR board!

By, Marco "BigWop" Chiappetta
July 19, 2001

We ran ZD's Business and Content Creation Winstone benchmarks to test "real-world" performance in Office type and Multimedia applications.
 

More Performance
Here goes...

.BUSINESS WINSTONE:

Here we see the Shuttle AK11 outpacing the Abit board by the smallest of margins.  If you're looking to build a system to run Office type apps, you can't go wrong with either board.  Let's turn things up a notch and see how the AK11 handles the more intense Content Creation tests...

CONTENT CREATION WINSTONE:

There is not much we can say here.  The Shuttle AK11 and Abit KT7A-RAID burned through the Content Creation tests at essentially the same pace.

All in all, we'd have to say we were very pleased with the Shuttle AK11.  The quality of the board is top notch, it is an excellent performer and it's layout is near flawless.  We had a good luck while overclocking and our test system was completely stable throughout all of the benchmarks.  If you're in the market for a quality KT133A based motherboard, you cannot go wrong with the Shuttle AK11.  Barring the fact that DDR is here, and is very affordable, there is no disadvantage to owning a board such as this.  We give the VIA KT133A based Shuttle AK11 a HotHardware heat meter rating of...

Think you know about this hardware stuff?  Yeah?  Then get in the Forum and Prove it!

 

 

 
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The Shuttle AK11 KT133A Based Motherboard - Page 4
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