Posted: May 2nd, 2002
Written by: Tuan Huynh
Over the past year or so, Shuttle has really been pulling their act together. Once being a manufacturer of poor, unreliable main boards, Shuttle has now become a favorite among the enthusiast crowds. When they first released their AK31 v2.0, it was a bare no frills board that could perform and overclock relatively well.
The AK31 v2.0 was later followed by the AK31A, then finally with VIAís KT276A chipset launch we finally saw Shuttle launch an attack on higher end boards with their AK35GTR. Their AK35GTR was part of the Grand Touring Series of boards for high performance and featured boards. The original AK35GTR performed up there with Abitís KR7A-RAID and Asus A7V266-E.
Of course with the recent launch of VIAís KT333, itíd only be time till Shuttle would release a follow up to their award winning AK35GTR, even though it sound like a car, itís a motherboard!
Shuttleís latest revision of the award winning AK35GTR carries the name AK35GT2 to remove the confusion that resulted from the multiple revisions of the AK31 series. Very much like the AK35GTR, the AK35GT2 carries the exact same layout. The AK35GT2 sports a dull orange PCB in a full ATX form factor. The power connector on the board is also placed conveniently behind the I/O ports so the power cable doesnít get in the way of the heatsink.
On the connector side of things, the AK35GT2 sports the typical connectors for keyboard, mouse, USB, serial ports, parallel, and audio ports. The onboard audio is provided by a C-Media CMI8738 DSP, which is one of the finest onboard audio solutions you can get. Shuttle also includes a header for the center/LFE channel for true 5.1 surround sound as well.
Being aimed directly at Abitís market space, the AK35GT2 features 6 PCI slots and virtually no CNR/ACR/AMR slots, thus showing that Shuttle engineered this board for the enthusiasts, and not for OEMís like most manufacturers do. Right beneath the last PCI slot youíll find the Analog audio inputs for your CD-Rom drives. On the left of the PCI slots, youíll also see the Award BIOS chip as well as the C-Media CMI8738 DSP.
In the bottom right corner where all the IDE connectors lay, youíll find 4 IDE connectors as well as one floppy connector that are color coded accordingly. The yellow connectors are color coordinated as ATA133/RAID connectors powered by the integrated Highpoint HPT372 controller, while the blue and white IDE connectors are normal connectors that are powered by the integrated ATA133 controller on the VIA 233A south bridge.
The AK35GT2 also features an onboard speaker, thus not making use of the case speaker, as the AK35GT2 does not have a header for a speaker connector.
Of course much like its predecessors, the AK35GT2 also features 4 DIMM slots for maximal memory expansion. It appears the area around the CPU socket doesnít provide enough clearance for an Alpha, as thereíre capacitors towards the top part and the north bridge heatsink appears to get in the way as well.
Since the AK35GT2 BIOS isnít any different from all the ones weíve seen before, Iíve neglected to include screen shots of it, as itís just a standard Award BIOS. One nice thing about the BIOS is the ability to achieve 2.3 volts VCORE; this is definitely helpful while overclocking, other then that the BIOS options are very standard and thorough with the usual DRAM, FSB, DRAM voltage settings. The BIOS also allows FSB frequencies up to 225 MHz in 1 MHz increments which make it convenient for overclockers to set the BIOS.