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Nowadays a Northbridge cooler is a standard feature. The various VIA Northbridges are known to get extremely hot under full load, and without adequate cooling, you will have an unstable system.
This is something we are seeing more and more with higher end motherboards. Until VIA releases a chipset that supports 4.1 channel, motherboard manufacturers are resorting to including other audio chipsets for integrated sound. Shuttle is no exception...
This is the C-Media CMI8738 3D Audio Chipset. Let me tell you now that it is nothing special, and leaves a bit to be desired, however if onboard audio suits you fine, it IS noticeably better than VIA's AC97 solution, and it does support 6 channel audio. To accommodate the extra channels, Shuttle uses C-Media's port-sharing function; Line-In, Line-Out, and Microphone can all be rerouted to either rear channel audio, or subwoofer output.
Shuttle includes a single Subwoofer output place in the package, but I really would have preferred a full output plate; other motherboard manufacturers use one.
The AV45GT/R includes the option for an onboard RAID controller. Unfortunately we can't test this function at this time, but I am sure most of you are familiar with RAID, how it works, and what it can do for you.
One thing worth noting about the HPT372 controller is that it supports ATA/133. If you have a couple 7200RPM ATA/133 drives in a "RAID 0" config, you know you have the fastest IDE platform happening.
I must say, I do not like the placement of IDE headers on this board. Having IDE cables stretched all the way to the bottom of the board, along with the CDROM and Floppy cables is going to cause a big, airflow restricting mess. Abit used to have great secondary IDE header placement, right beside the primary headers. I don't know why Shuttle did this when they potentially have so much room on the full-sized ATX board... Oh well...
Comes with everything you see here!
We got a pre-production board, and even it included all the goodies you could want... 2 80-pin IDE cables, a subwoofer output, and 2 extra USB headers are all something you would expect on more expensive boards. Shuttle offers all this at an excellent price. Since the standard ATX rear panel configuration is used, no backplate was necessary (I have seen some boards with odd back panel config, and not include a backplate! Doh!)
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