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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [02.20.02]
Manufactured by: Shuttle


Chipset Cooler

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.

Now this is something you don't see often - thermal tape used on a heatsink that is already secured! Shuttle did a good job on their AK45GTR by using thermal paste, and while this is better than nothing at all, I don't see why they chose to use tape.  Tape is great when you need it, but this is definitely a case where it is not needed.  It was easily rubbed off, and I threw some Arctic Silver 3 on there.

Onboard Audio

This is something we are seeing more and more with higher end motherboards.  Until VIA releases a chipset that decently 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 5.1 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.

We'll be putting the CMEDIA chip up against a couple other 5.1 sound cards in the near future; watch for that as I am sure Shuttle won't be the only one using these chips.

Onboard RAID

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.

Here's the top quarter of the board.  As you can see, a standard ATX backplate is used.  Also note all the room around the CPU socket - you can't imagine what a pain it was looking for a small enough heatsink to fin on the GigaByte board we tested this Shuttle against! The Shuttle should accomodate pretty much every heatsink you can throw at it, even those big suckers that use 80mm fans.

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