A Minor Annoyance
I guess people have been complaining about their video cards falling out lately or something, because I am seeing this more and more on newer motherboards.
I must say, however, that I have seen it done MUCH better. The black plastic you see around the AGP slot is the retention system used by the AK35GTR. There is a tab that extends on the right side of the slot, and clips onto the AGP "No Finger" part (the tab with no gold connectors on it).
Luckily this thing can be ripped off, because I found it to be more of a pain in the ass than anything! The tab often clipped on so hard, that it was very difficult to take the video card out after installation. Some boards I have seen use a tab very similar to those seen on DIMM slots, these work very well because you can just press them down, and they actually help push the video card out of its slot.
Ram Settings Galore
One thing I love about all VIA chipsets is the way they let you tweak the RAM settings to your liking. If you have high quality SDRAM modules, such as those made by Crucial, feel free to play around with these settings and see how much performance you can squeeze out of them!
Everything you need to tweak is here! Just as a side note, I set all these to the maximum settings with two 256MB Crucial PC2100 sticks, and the system ran perfectly with the DIMM voltage knocked up a bit. Your mileage WILL vary however!
Unfortunately I neglected to take a snapshot of the overclocking page in the BIOS, however you should rest well knowing that everything you need is there. CPU Voltage can be changed in 0.05V increments, and DDR voltage up to 2.7V.
FSB settings can be changed between 100 and 160 MHz, in 1 MHz increments (you just key in the number you want). Shuttle delivers a solid overclocking board, with nary a jumper required. Good job!
This is just a little quirk I wanted to make note of... As you know, Athlon XP introduced an on-die thermal diode for the first time ever on Athlon CPU's for the most accurate temperature readings. VIA's chipset does support this function should a motherboard manufacturer choose to make use of it, which is why I find it perplexing that Shuttle would rather use a less accurate under-the-CPU Thermal Resistor. This is truly odd since the AK35GTR is a brand new platform, unlike their AK31 v3.1, which is just an upgraded platform.
I told you the AK35GTR is almost exactly the same as the AV45GTR. Well if you remember in our review of the AV45GTR, we had a complaint about the placement of the audio CD and AUX headers. They were placed oddly between a couple PCI slots near the top, and it made for a pretty sloppy installation when using the analog CD cable. Shuttle must have listened to me, because they moved the headers below the last PCI slots, nicely out of the way! Now the analog CD cable isn't stretched across the board; it just sits neatly underneath the IDE cables, out of the way.
Tests were done on the AK35GTR and a board using the older KT266 chipset. For this, we used a Gigabyte GA-7VTX (reviewed here), which in itself was a good board in its time. We're going to find out what KT266A really means in terms of performance.
We of course used a fresh install of WindowsXP on both boards, along with the latest drivers available at that time. Here is the full disclosure of specs:
CPU: AMD Athlon XP 2000+
System Drivers Used
Note that you can get most of the benchmarking software we use from our Downloads Page.
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