Thing is Pretty...
I first opened the package of the AE23 I was
immediately taken by it's layout.
We have seen many boards come
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
On To Some Overclocking