Shuttle AB30R I845 socket 478

Thursday, December 27, 2001


Introduction

For some time now, Shuttle's metaphorical sails have been full of the metaphorical wind, and have propelled them to rapidly release new products. This time, its the Shuttle AB30R Pentium 4 Socket 478 motherboard that we'll be reviewing. The AB30R is quite the little beast, equipped as it is with an integrated RAID controller, and a multichannel Dolby Digital 5.1-enabled C-Media CMI8738 PCI audio chip.

Clearly, this is a board worthy of notice, so let's say we give it some attention and put it to the test.

Characteristics of the Shuttle AB30R
CPU
-- Supports Intel® Pentium® 4 processor in the 478-pin package.
Chipset
Intel 845 (+ICH2) Chipset
Form factor
ATX
Expansion
5 PCI - 0 ISA - 0 CNR - 1 AGP - 4 USB
Memory
3X 168-pin DIMM sockets PC133 SDRAM slots for up to 3GB of memory
FSB
100MHz to 166MHz
Vcore adj.
NA
Vio adj.
NA
Audio chipset
C-Media CMI8738


Audio

The AB30R's audio capabilities are handled by an integrated C-Media CMI8738 sound-chip.

The CMI8738 supports 5.1 configurations, thus permitting up to audio devices to be hooked-in, including a sub-woofer.

The chip also supports the treatment of incoming and outgoing digital and SPDIF signals. Unfortunately though, Shuttle hasn't seen fit to provide the proper optical connectors required for this feature, a situation unlike that of several competing boards.

From a sound-quality standpoint, the C-Media CMI8738 has very little to envy of other chips. It supports up to 32 polyphonic voices, EAX effects, and is compatible with both Microsoft DirectSound 3D and Aureal A3D.

In short, the CMI8738 offers great sound-quality that will be immediately appreciated by users.



Configuration

Despite the presence of a few jumpers, the Shuttle AB30R can rightfully lay claim to a Jumperless design. The only jumpers of note can be used to set the operating frequency of the FSB, with options including: 100MHz, 109MHz, 120MHz, 133MHz, 141MHz, 150MHz, 160MHz, and 170MHz.

It's worth noting however that most users will never even need to see them, as the same functionality is reproduced within the BIOS, and permits users to set the FSB to between 100MHz and 166MHz in 1MHz increments.

The "Advanced Chipset Features", for its part, also includes the ability to set the memory bus frequency to either 100MHz or 133MHz, and to tweak a number of memory timing options.

In the end then, even though the AB30R falls short of the Overclocking functionality of the AK31, it is nevertheless far superior in that respect to the majority of P4 boards on the market.

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