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Review: Shuttle MN31N micro-ATX nForce2

by Tarinder Sandhu on 31 March 2003, 00:00 4.5

Tags: Shuttle

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Specifications and bundle

Processors

  • Supports Socket A (Socket 462) for AMD® Athlon™ / Athlon XP / Duron™ processor
  • Support for 200 / 266FSB / 333FSB processors.

Chipset

  • Northbridge: NVIDIA nForce2 IGP with integrated GeForce4 MX
  • Southbridge: NVIDIA nForce2 MCP-T

System Memory

  • 3 x 184pin DDR DIMM slots
  • DDR200 / DDR266 / DDR333 / DDR400 support @ 2.5v
  • 3GB maximum system RAM (non-ECC), 2GB for DDR400
  • Dual DDR architecture combines 2 independent 64-bit memory controllers
  • Dual DDR provides up to 6.4GB/s of system bandwidth @ DDR-400

Slots

  • One AGP 8/4x AGP compliant (1.5v and 0.8v support)
  • 3 x 32-bit PCI 33MHz slots

On-board peripherals and backplane

  • 1 floppy port supports 2 FDD
  • 1 MIDI / game port
  • 1 parallel port
  • 1 iRDA connector
  • 2 VGA ports for the nForce2 IGP
  • PS/2 Keyboard
  • PS/2 Mouse
  • 10/100 LAN
  • 3 Audio Jacks (NVIDIA APU via ALC650. 6-channel sound is available by doubling-up the jacks)
  • 6 x USB 2.0 connectors from MCP-T SB (2 on the backplane + 4 by additional brackets. An extra bracket is provided for 2 additional ports)
  • Headers for Firewire, USB2.0, S/PDIF

On-board IDE

  • An IDE controller on the Nforce2 MCP-T chipset provides IDE HDD/CD-ROM with PIO, Bus Master and Ultra DMA133/100/66/ operation modes
  • Can connect up to 4 IDE devices

Audio

  • NVIDIA 6-channel Soundstorm via Realtek ALC650 6-channel CODEC. S/PDIF header on motherboard
  • Supports real time AC3 encoding via hardware

Other features

  • NVIDIA 10/100 LAN via Realtek RTL8201LB physical interface.
  • NVIDIA Firewire support via Realtek RTL8801B physical interface

Form Factor

  • Micro-ATX specifications - 244mm x 244mm

Bundled items

  • 1 x ATA133 ribbon cable
  • 1 x Floppy cable
  • 1 x 2-port USB2.0 cable
  • Custom backplane shielding
  • User manual
  • Driver CD with chipset drivers, PDF manual, BIOS flashing utility

It's a shame that no Firewire cable is provided to make elementary use of this high-speed standard, nor is a port provided on the backplane. A 2-port USB2.0 cable is provided, bring the total usable ports up to 4. On first glance, the specifications read just like any other nForce2 motherboard. The 3 PCI slots are the initial indicator of its micro-ATX status. The micro-ATX form factor is an evolution from the standard ATX size. The boards can be as wide as a regular ATX (244mm) but only 244mm deep (300mm+ for ATX). As mentioned before, it allows system integrators to produce cheaper machines by saving on motherboard, case, and possible PSU costs. Some form of integrated video is a must for these systems, and the Shuttle MN31N provides amongst the best via the GeForce4 MX-equipped IGP.

There's no explicit mention of Barton support, but with a motherboard released after the Bartons, we'd assume it has full support.