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Generation Change: Eight Motherboards For The Athlon 64

Shuttle AN50R

Board Revision: 1.2

BIOS Version: October 3, 2003

The AN50R makes a conservative showing, since with 199.4 MHz it's a little under AMD's intended clock speed of 200 MHz. In our benchmarks, this made itself apparent through low performance. But it's no tragedy, since the differences are unlikely to be felt.

So far we have seen network controllers from 3COM, Broadcom and Realtek. Shuttle completes the offer by its use of a 82540 from Intel, which supports 1 Gbit/s. Beyond that, there is a second RJ45 connection with 100 Mbit/s powered by a Realtek 8201BL. A VIA chip offers a FireWire connection, the Sil3112 by Silicon Image has SATA ports since the nVIDIA nForce3 chipset used doesn't have these yet.

Shuttle does not feature connection color coding on the pin panel, but the labels suffice. For today's conditions, the package is rather sparse, since besides for the obligatory cable sets it only contains two adapters for USB and FireWire ports. Shuttle has held back on the software, too. Apart from drivers and a Windows program for the BIOS update, the package contains nothing.

To make up for that, Shuttle has undercut its rivals somewhat in price and also comes out on top for what we term the "cleanest" design in this comparison test. All connections are on the board's edges, the PCI slot cards can all be fitted with full length cards and even on the side facing the slot brackets there are no components that may prevent a few slot cards being installed.