IntroductionShuttle is a multi-national company with a strong commitment to customer service. Regional sales offices are located in the United States, Germany, Italy, Poland and Taiwan. Localization plus reliable after sales service and prompt technical support have enabled Shuttle to maintain a strong relationship with its customers including system integrators, VARs, OEMs, ODMs and distribution network.Shuttle is a leading Taiwan based manufacturer and supplier of computer mainboards and add-in cards. Ever since its establishment in 1983, Shuttle has always been recognized in the international markets for delivering products of the latest technology together with exceptional quality and performance. Today, Shuttle has become one of the largest board manufacturers in the world with sales revenue in excess of US$200 million. Its Shuttle and Spacewalker products have already reached millions of satisfied customers world-wide.Shuttle's relationship with the AMD K7 processor in the past has been very short. Shuttle's first AMD K7 board was a Slot A based motherboard using the AMD 751 Northbridge and AMD 756 Southbridge. Like most AMD Irongate boards, this one suffered with the GeForce/AGP2x crash issues.Shuttle's second K7 motherboard was the AK12, a KT133 based motherboard with very ordinary features for a AMD motherboard. With the release of the KT133A chipset, Shuttle released the AK12 rev 3.0 motherboard.Now with the introduction of the VIA KT266 chipset, Shuttle has introduced a new range of motherboards to try and tempt the end user to lean towards a Shuttle motherboard. Today, Shuttle has given us the AK31 motherboard to test. Lets see how she fares up.
Shuttle AK31 -
Specifications- CPUSupports AMD Athlon 700MHz ~ 1.3GHz @ 200Mhz FSBSupports AMD Athlon 1GHz ~ 1.4GHz @ 266MHz FSBSupports AMD Duron 600 ~ 950MHz @ 200Mhz FSB- ChipsetVIA KT266 ChipsetVT8366 NorthbridgeVIA VT8233 Southbridge- Bus Frequency100/133MHz Internal200/266Mhz ExternalAlpha EV6 Communication Bus- Expansion Slots1 AGP 2x,4x6 PCI1 CNR- Expansion Ports1 PS2 Keyboard Port1 PS2 Mouse Port6 USB Ports (2 rear accessible, 4 via expansion bracket)2 Serial Ports1 Parallel Port- Special FeaturesBIOS overclocking control of FSB, multiplier, Vcore and VIO
Shuttle AK31 -
Features- Expansion Layout
The Shuttle AK31 uses a 1/6/1 (AGP/PCI/CNR) layout. Most VIA KT266 motherboards should come with 6 PCI slots as the VIA KT266 chipset has support for 6 PCI Busmaster slots. With the current rate of expansion for motherboards, anything less than 5 PCI slots makes a board a rather waste of money. Lets consider, we have either a PCI NIC for broadband internet or PCI modem, we have PCI sound cards, some of us have PCI DVD Cards or TV or DVI capture cards, thats 3 PCI down, with a 4 PCI slot solution we are left up the creek. Shuttle's AK31's IRQ assignments for the PCI slots is rather well thought out too. We experienced no conflicts with our test hardware.- AGP4x Retention MechanismOnce again we see the nifty AGP retention mechanism pop up on the Shuttle AK31. This is a rather handy little gadget when it comes to the users transporting their PC's to and from LAN parties. This baby ensures that your AGP video card will stay in its slot no matter what. - VIA KT266 Chipset, the new force in DDR
Driving the AK31 into the DDR platform is VIA's new KT266 chipset. the KT266 chipset is comprised of the VIA VT8366 Northbridge chipset and the VT8233 Southbridge chipsets. The new KT266, like the Apollo Pro266 chipset uses the V-Link communication bus to connect the Southbridge to the Northbridge. So I hear you ask "What is V-Link"?V-Link is the new method of communication for the North and South bridges for VIA chipsets. Traditionally, the North and South bridges were connected via the PCI bus. While this was an easy standard to use, it does tend to cramp the PCI bus when you have 6 high-speed PCI devices, 4 IDE devices and 4 USB devices all trying to share a bus that delivers a maximum of 133MB/s. V-Link changes this by giving the PCI bus its own dedicated bus system and still has and extra 133MB/s for the IDE and USB devices. V-Link is similar to Intel's Hub Architecture.Along with those noteworthy features, there is another major feature of this board that we haven't seen on many other KT266 boards; 4 DDR DIMM's. that's right 4. The AK31 is one of the very, very few boards out there supporting 4 DDR DIMM's for up to 2GB PC1600/2100 memory. And yes; like all of VIA's 133 series chipsets the DRAM/Host clock is asyncronous so you can have the memory run faster or slower or at the same speed as the FSB clock. This comes in handy if you have PC2100 SDRAM but only a 100Mhz FSB CPU. You can increase the RAM speed to gain that extra performance, or if you have a 133FSB CPU and only PC1600 RAM you can slow the RAM clock down to keep the memory in specs.- OverclockingThe AK31 motherboard is an overclockers delight. Within the BIOS you can just about set anything you wish to. Under the frequency/voltage menu in the AWARD BIOS you have the option to set the FSB from 100MHz up to 166MHz in 1MHz increments allowing you to get the maximum out of your CPU. Along with this you can also change the CPU multiplier from 5x up to 13x. Add Vcore adjustments up to 1.85v and VIO adjustments up to 2.8v (remembering that DDR uses a default VIO of 2.5) and you'll see that this board is well packed. Tweaking the memory settings is also possible. Quite a few options for memory optimization are located in the advanced chipset features. With all this said, we were able to get 155Mhz max out of this board.
Shuttle AK31 -
BenchmarkingTest System- Processor: AMD Athlon 1.33GHz- Memory: 256MB PC2100 Mushkin- Video Card: Gigabyte GF3- Hard Disk: Maxtor ATA-100 7200RPM- Drivers: VIA 4.05 AGP, nVIDIA Det3 rev 12.90- Software Used: Sisoft Sandra 2001, 3Dmark2000, 3Dmark2001, Quake 3 Arena, MDK2, Star Trek Armada, Star Trek Voyager Elite Force.Results - Sisoft Sandra 2001 CPU Benchmark
Results - Sisoft Sandra 2001 Multimedia Benchmark
Results - Sisoft Sandra 2001 Memory Benchmark
Results - 3Dmark2000 1024x768
Results - 3Dmark2001 1024x768
Shuttle AK31 -
Benchmarks ContinuedResults - Quake 3 Arena 1024x768 32bit Color
Results - MDK2 1024x768, (Hardware T&L Enabled)
Results - Star Trek Armada 1024x768 16bit Color
Results - Star Trek Voyager Elite Force 1024x768 32bit Color
ConclusionFor our first VIA KT266 review, all I can say is whoa, this DDR stuff really works. Shuttle's design really makes the most out of VIA's latest and greatest chipset. Stability on the AK31 was not to be sneezed at. No matter what, we couldn't get the board to crash due to chipset errors. We got CPU heat and memory heat errors but no component on the motherboard gave us any problems. Our only gripe is the use of a CNR slot over an ISA slot.Rating - 9/10 and TweakTown's Editors Choice Award.
Last updated: Jun 16, 2020 at 04:31 pm CDT
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