Shuttle Hot-685V Review
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Introduction
Built in the BabyAT format and upon the VIA Apollo Pro chipset. The new Hot-685V from shuttle has a lot to offer as an upgrade board. The VIA Apollo Pro Plus is a high performance chipset offering systems designers a very high level of flexibility for Slot 1/Socket 370 mobile and desktop PC systems. It incorporates the full range of cutting-edge core logic technologies, including advanced system power management capability, PC100 SDRAM, AGP 2x mode, and multiple CPU/DRAM timing configurations. 

CHIPSET FEATURES

VT82C693 (North Bridge) 

VT82C596A (South Bridge) 

Packaging
The board sent for review was well equipped with expansion slot covers containing a PS/2 mouse port, two serial and one LPT port as well as an expansion slot cover to take advantage of the Forte Media FM801A audio chip on board with line out, microphone and line in and gameport/joystick connectors. Shuttle also includes a CD-ROM with all of the necessary drivers and patches as well as the Shuttle System Manager hardware monitor utility - which is offered as an option - for the Hot-685V. The Quick Start Guide, included in the box, is a three sheet offering which does little more than offer an outline of the boards features and maps all of the important connectors and jumpers on the system board itself. I suspect that boards reaching the general market will elaborate, offering at least an online manual in .pdf format on the drivers CD.

Features
The Hot-685V is equipped to handle all of the current PPGA370 Intel Celeron processors and with FSB speeds capable of handling up to 133MHz, will no doubt support future PPGA370s, including the upcoming socket 370 PIIIs. The three DIMM slots can support a generous 768MB of EDO, Standard and PC100 SDRAM. Adequate but somewhat limited, expansion on the system board is found in 1 x ISA and 4 x PCI slots along with the AGP graphics slot but since there is sound onboard, you won't need to use up a slot for that. The board also features a standard range of I/O capabilities (FDD X 1, Serial X 2, Parallel X 1, USB X 2 (optional)) and support for 2 dual channel UDMA 33/PIO mode4 IDE interfaces. You'll also find Wake-On-Ring, Wake-On-Alarm, and SPDIF Out capabilities. The Forte Media FM801A audio is actually quite good although somewhat CPU intensive.


Setup
Actually getting the board up and running is a fairly simple task - as AT form factor boards go. Since the CPU voltage, clock multiplier and external frequency are all handles within the BIOS set up, you won't need to mess with any jumpers. Apart from a line of can-type electrolytic capacitors down the left side of the CPU socket, which limit oversize heatsink/fan combos, the board is pretty roomy for it's diminutive dimensions. You can actually get your fingers in to hook up connectors. 

Test Configuration for Shuttle Hot-685V

Mainboard Shuttle Hot-685V
Chipset VIA Apollo Pro
Processor(s) Intel PPGA 370 Celeron
 300MHz, 366MHz, 400MHz
Memory 1x64MB PC100 (CAS 2)
Corsair CM 654S64-BX2
Hard Drive Western Digital Caviar AC3.6400
6.4G Ultra ATA/33
Graphics Card Diamond Viper 550 16MB AGP
Operating System Windows 98

Performance
On the whole the performance of the Hot-685V at the processors default settings run on par with any of the other socket 370 boards I've tested. Extremely stable at 75MHz. I did have some problem running programs at 83MHz receiving numerous GPFs but it is hard to say for sure that it was because of the system board for it performed quite well at 100MHz using a PGA370 Celeron 300.  Apart from that, the Hot-685V  performed with almost flawless stability, accomplishing the Winstone 99 Benchmark application each time without error.    Benchmarking was performed under the system configuration listed above and scores reported are averaged over three runs at each setting...

Conclusion
Very stable except the 83MHz setting, the Hot-685V offers an exceptional upgrade possibility to those out there with AT form factor cases who think it is time for a change but don't want to sink a lot of money into a completely new system.

With the news that Intel intends to release Pentium IIIs for the socket 370, now is a better time than ever to take a close look at the socket 370-based mainboards from every manufacturer.  When looking at Shuttle mainboards it is a wise idea to make sure that the board comes with the options you desire - like USB and hardware monitoring.  
You can find out more about this and other fine mainboards at Shuttle's web site at http://www.spacewalker.com  
 
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