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Shuttle AK37GTR Motherboard Review

By: Tio Chaharbaghi | Editorials in Motherboards | Posted: Dec 8, 2002 5:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 8.0%Manufacturer: Shuttle

The Motherboard



Above is a birds eye view of the Shuttle AK37GTR. Shuttle opted for a blue theme, which included a blue PCB as well as a lighter shade of blue for the DIMM slots. This is definitely a nice compliment to have on a modified case.


Unlike some other motherboards on the market, the layout of the Shuttle AK37GTR seems to be spaced out quite nicely. As you can see, there is quite a bit of space between everything. This gives you a nice comfort that you have enough room to work in.



The CPU socket on the Ak37GTR seems to have enough room around it to fit most of the HSF's on the market today. The only problem I see is the capacitors behind the CPU socket near the edge of the motherboard. They seem to be quite close to the socket and might cause problems when installing a HSF.


*Note: We had no problem installing two HSF's we had lying around; The Thermaltake Volcano 7 as well as the Thermalright SK6.


The Northbridge is cooled by your average passive heatsink. Although it might not dissipate a lot of heat at stock, it might give you trouble when you are overclocking. It's always a con when manufacturers do not include proper cooling for the Northbridge.


It seems more and more motherboard manufacturers are including a lot of DIMM slots on their motherboards. Shuttle has included 4 DIMM slots on the AK37GTR. This gives you a maximum of 4 GB of DDR RAM. Officially, the AK37GTR supports DDR 333. Does it have a DDR 400 support in the BIOS? Continue to find out…


The two main IDE ports are located to the right of the RAM slots. They support up to two devices each running at ATA 33/66/100/133. They are placed quite well since in most cases, it will line up with your hard drive bays in your case. Above that is the FDD connector to hook up your floppy drives.



All the AMD motherboards I have worked with in my short life have always had just ATX connectors or one source of power to the motherboard. Only AMD's counterpart, Intel, would require or recommend that its motherboards provide a second power line, also known as the 12V connector.


Well, it seems that Shuttle is starting a new era for AMD motherboards. They have included three power line connectors to the motherboard. They have included the conventional ATX connector & a 12v connector. Also, for those who don't have "12v compliant" power supplies, you can provide your second line of power through a normal 4-pin connector. This should definitely add more stability, and even more at high clock speeds when overclocking.



Above is a snapshot of the lower portion of the motherboard. Shuttle has opted to include five 32-bit PCI slots as well as a AGP slot supporting AGP 8x. Below the last PCI slot you have the connectors for the extra USB ports that can be hooked up on the AK37GTR (up to six).


Right above the AGP slots you have three color coded connectors. Those are connectors for the onboard audio. They include TAD in, CD in and a connector for Aux in. One problem is that if you do in fact run a cable from your CD drive to the "CD in" it goes right over your CPU fan. Even though it might be a thin cable, it could affect airflow. It might be a small thing, but why cant motherboard manufacturers let those connectors be on the other side of the motherboard?



The Shuttle AK37GTR is packed with the VT8235 Southbridge as you can see above. This basically controls all the functions for the lower portion of the motherboard including the PCI slots, AGP slot etc.


One thing I would like to see on all the boards out there is cooling on the Southbridge as well. Even though it might not dissipate a lot of heat, and it might run costs up, it's well worth it. It might be able to give you that 1 MHz you need to reach your goal while overclocking, or add that 1% of additional stability that you need.



As stated various times during the review, the Shuttle AK37GTR does in fact support Serial ATA. Serial ATA is one of the biggest advantages that the VIA KT400 has over the VIA KT333 chipset.


The AK37GTR is equipped with two Serial ATA ports with support up to two SATA devices. The chipset for the SATA features are seen right above each port. Unfortunately, we do not have any sort of SATA equipment to test out the ports and performance with. Look out for a future comparison of various Serial ATA chipsets.



The Shuttle AK37GTR is not only equipped with Serial ATA ports but also 2x RAID ports. You can setup RAID in 0, 1 or 0+1 mode and you can also use them as regular UDMA IDE ports by changing a few settings in the BIOS.


The RAID ports are controlled by the famous Highpoint HP372 RAID controller. As far as my experience with RAID, the HP chipsets have always been on the top of my list. It has great performance, great reliability and is very easy to use/setup. Using a step-by-step setup, you will have your RAID up in no time.



Unlike a lot of other KT400 motherboards on the market, the back panel of the AK37GTR does not have any extra features added to it. It uses the conventional ATX bracket setup so no change in case brackets is needed. It would have been nice if Shuttle could have included two more USB ports on the bracket.


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