Shuttle's AV30 VIA Apollo Pro 266 Motherboard

Shuttle's AV30 VIA Apollo Pro 266 Motherboard - Page 2

Shuttle's AV30 VIA Apollo Pro 266 DDR Motherboard
With a Dash of Crucial PC1600 DDR RAM...

By Marco "BigWop" Chiappetta

You 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...


At first glance, it doesn't look much different than standard SDRAM, but other than the underlying technology, there are some subtle differences...

Compared "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.

Installation Quality and Setup
Easy as Pie

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 slots.


Upon 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.

There were many other aspects of the AV30 that pleased us...


The 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.


Although 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!)


Shuttle 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.

We snapped a couple of shots of the DIMM slots too...


There's not too much to much to say here, but it sure is cool to see "Double Data Rate RAM" printed on a motherboard!  

The BIOS and Quake 3


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