Shuttle Hot-681V
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Hot Apollo Pro Technology for the Celeron PPGA370

Introduction
Shuttle's HOT-681V is a highly integrated IBM PC/ATX compatible system board designed to meet the industry's most demanding desktop applications. Built around the VIA VT82C693 AGPset chipset the system board is designed to support Intel's PGA370 Celeron processor with MMX technology up to 500MHz. Equipped with AGP, the high-performance interconnect for graphic-intensive applications, the HOT-681V supports 3.3 V A.G.P. devices with data transfer rates up to 133MHz, allowing data throughput of 500 MB/sec. The VIA VT82C693 AGPset chipset provides an integrated Bus Mastering IDE controller with two high performance IDE interfaces which allows up to four IDE devices connection and up to 33 MB/sec of data transfer rates.

 
The on-board I/O controller provides standard PC I/O functions: floppy drive interface, dual FIFO serial ports, an InDA device port and a SPP/EPP/ECP capable parallel port. The HOT-681V also supports four PCI local bus slots providing a high bandwidth data path for data-movement intensive functions such as graphics, along with three ISA slots. Shuttle's VIA based system board provides an excellent foundation for cost effective, high performance and highly expandable platforms, delivering the latest in the Intel PPGA Celeron A CPU and new advanced chipset technology.

Packaging
With it's typical ATX dual-layer back panel I/O connectors the only hardware packaged along with Shuttle's Hot-681V are the IDE and floppy ribbon cables. The box also includes Shuttle's Driver Installation and Online Manual CD-ROM and a brief but effective Installation Guide.

Features
With the Apollo Pro chipset onboard the Hot-681V supports up to 768MB of normal or PC100 SDRAM within it 3 DIMM slots. System memory can be adjusted through the BIOS setup to run at either 66MHz or the external CPU frequency so you don't have to worry about setting jumpers correctly. Nor will you have to worry about jumper settings for CPU core voltage on the Hot-681V as you would for a socket 7 mainboard. The system board offers external CPU frequency settings of 66/75/83/100/112 and 133MHz configurable through jumper settings (JP5) and clock multiplier settings ranging from 3.5x through 8.0x in 0.5x increments. So future upgrades should find support although there are no current means for testing the 133MHz bus frequency. Options include LANDesk Client Manager software and hardware monitoring. Full specifications for the Shuttle Hot-681V can be found here...

Board Layout & Setup
As far as setup goes, the Hot-681V is fairly straightforward. In fact my only complaint regarding this board is Shuttle's choice of jumper location. Both JP5 (CPU frequency) and JP6 (Clock Multiplier) jumpers are rather inconveniently located between expansion slots. For any of you, who, like myself, have fat fingers, manipulating these jumpers will most likely require the use of needle-nose pliers or tweezers. After the board is setup, overclocking is more of a chore in that any expansion cards proximally located near the jumper blocks will have to be removed to get at the jumpers to make changes. If however, you aren't interested in overclocking, the board sets up with greater ease outside the case and once properly configured can be forgotten.
The CPU socket offers plenty of room to accept even the largest of heatsink/fan combos and the Hot-681V offers numerous fan connectors (4) as well as an EISCA Cooler connector, so adequate ventilation and cooling should never be a problem.

Hot-681V Mainboard Layout Diagram

BIOS configuration, while reasonably deep (for system tweaking) is also completely straightforward and thoroughly covered in depth by the online manual in .pdf format found on the Shuttle Installation CD. With the exception of the first ISA and last PCI expansion slots, which are partially constricted by the front panel I/O connector block, the expansion slots offer plenty of room for full length expansion cards. Nice to know if you need space for Voodoo graphics cards, SCSI adapters, etc.

Performance
To the best of my understanding, Celerons tend to find their best performance on BX based system boards and while I dabbled with an Abit BH6 a few months ago when building a system for a friend, I never really got to push the system.  Shuttle's Hot-681V, and Apollo Pro Plus based system board is really my first experience with the platform. As I understand it, the PGA370 Celerons are a bit different from their Slot-1 counterparts in that they can be run at lower clock multipliers.  This offers a bit more latitude for overclocking ant the Hot-681V takes full advantage

Test Configuration for Shuttle Hot-681V

Mainboard Shuttle Hot-681V
Chipset VIA Apollo Pro Plus
Processor Intel Celeron SL37X
B80524 P400 ((400MHz)

Boxed
Memory 64MB Memory Man SEC
PC100 SDRAM DIMM
Hard Drive Western Digital Caviar
AC36400 6.4G Ultra ATA
Graphics Adapter Creative Graphics Blaster Banshee 16MB
Matrox Millennium G200 AGP 8MB
Diamond Viper 330 AGP 4MB
Operating System Windows 98

Testing business application performance was accomplished using ZDBOp's Winstone 98 and Winstone 99 and the scores posted below reflect the average score over three runs of each test at each of the various settings. All scores below were registered using the Creative Blaster Banshee 16MB AGP graphics card.  Other graphics cards were tested for compatibility within the system an each performed without a hiccup.

Hot-681V / Winstone 98/99

Business Winstone Performance

Conclusion
Since this my first review of a socket 370 mainboard, I have very little frame of reference.  The Hot-681V ran with exceptional stability throughout the entire benchmarking process and, although any attempts to exceed the 100MHz front side bus resulted in failure, overclocking the Celeron A 400MHz went off without a hitch - even at 500MHz.  Other than the minor inconvenience caused by the unusual placement of the CPU frequency and clock multiplier jumper blocks, the Hot-681V seems an outstanding choice for migration to the PGA370 platform.  The easy to follow Installation Guide, thorough online manual and exceptional performance of the system all combine to make the Hot-681V a great choice for the first-time system builder.  The Hot-681V at the time of this review can be purchased on the web in the $75-$85.00 range. And with Celeron A PPGA370 400MHz processors available at under $150.00, you can enjoy outstanding system performance without having to dip too deeply into your pocket.  Highly Recommended...

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