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Big Business: 18 P4 boards In Price / Performance Face-Off

Shuttle AV49N

Board Revision: 1.3

BIOS Version: L (Oct 2, 2002)

Shuttle answered our request for a best value board by sending us the AV49N. The N stands for network controller, a feature that is missing on the AV49V model. The board is based on the VIA P4X400.

This full size ATX board of compact dimensions differs from others in the same format in that it is fitted with three instead of the normal two DIMM slots. However, Shuttle is yet another manufacturer which has taken to locating the floppy connector right at the bottom of the board. Presumably, this manufacturer's customers no longer have any use for a floppy drive - good for them! Otherwise, the layout is good considering the compact size. Both power connectors are located side by side in the top right-hand corner. All five PCI slots take long expansion cards.

Unfortunately, the BIOS does not offer the option of booting directly from USB, but compensates by offering rudimentary overclocking features (FSB speed from 133 to 165 MHz). Apart from Acrobat Reader, the software CD does not contain anything useful apart from drivers.

The Shuttle's 531 MHz FSB limits its performance, making it hard for Shuttle to keep pace with the competition. The overall performance therefore lies just below average but above the models using the VIA P4X400 chipset. There would no doubt have been a bit more performance available at full FSB speed.

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