The Best Overall BX Motherboard has been crowned and the award has been accepted, yet for those of you that, for one reason or another, don't find the ABIT BH6 on your list of potential boards there are a number of others just waiting to take ABIT's place in your case. 

Shuttle has always been and most likely always will be a major contender among the top motherboard manufacturers, and while showing their incredible drive towards producing the perfect motherboard, they have provided the market with another entry into the BX arena with their HOT-661P.


Anand Tech Report Card Rating
95/A

Motherboard Specifications

CPU Interface Slot-1
Chipset Intel 440BX
L2 Cache N/A On Chip
Form Factor ATX
Bus Speeds 66 / 68 / 75 / 83 / 100 / 103 / 112 / 133 MHz
Clock Multipliers 1.5x - 5.5x
Voltages Supported Auto Detect
Memory Slots 4 168pin DIMM Slots (EDO/SDRAM)
Expansion Slots 1 AGP Slot
4 PCI Slots (4 Full Length)
3 ISA Slots (1 Shared / 3 Full Length)
BIOS Award BIOS

The Good

Present on the Shuttle HOT-661P is the (for you Comedy Central fans) absolutely fabulous layout that Shuttle has been bringing to the market ever since the introduction of their renovated LX Pentium II board, the HOT-637.  The ATX layout of the 661P places all of the components on the board across the PCB (Printed Circuit Board) rather than laying them out on the board from top to bottom.  This decreases the width of the PCB and keeps the length at a relatively manageable ATX level.   What is so special about doing this with a motherboard?  Since the board isn't as wide as most competing BX motherboards, the 661P doesn't take up as much space in your case therefore improving cooling and the installation procedure, however probably one of the most important aspects of this design is its effects on expansion.

The 661P pretty much ends at the length of the ISA slots, which means that the board can accept full length peripheral cards in all of its slots.  Shuttle went with the "please-all" 4/3/1 expansion slot configuration, giving users 4 PCI, 3 ISA and that beloved AGP slot to occupy with all of the latest peripherals.  Not wasting an inch of space, Shuttle managed to squeeze in 4 DIMM slots running almost perpendicular to the AGP slot.  On the bottom side of the memory banks are the HDD/FDD connectors whose placement completely meets the ATX motherboard specification unlike some boards out there.  Next to the FDD connector is the ATX Power Supply connector which, once again, proves to be placed in an ideal location.  Surrounding the Pentium II's CPU Slot are a number of mid sized capacitors which are coupled with a few smaller capacitors near the DIMM banks to help improve stability. 

The board comes packaged with the standard Shuttle bundle including their classic Installations Guide which accurately documents the initial jumper setup and configuration of the motherboard as well as some of the more advanced features.  The entire User's Manual is located on the Spacewalker Supplementary CD-ROM which also came bundled with the motherboard, not that you would need either of those two in order to get your system up and running since the HOT-661P does allow for configuration of your CPU in the BIOS Setup.  Provided you cap the Auto-Detect Jumper Block, you can quickly configure the Clock Multiplier and Front Side Bus settings within the BIOS.  The available FSB settings include the 66/100MHz settings as well as the overclocked 75/83/103/112MHz options for pushing your system to the max.  The newest release of the motherboard does allow for operation of the 133MHz FSB setting according to Shuttle's Website.

At all of the overclocked and normally clocked FSB settings, the HOT-661P didn't flinch for even a split second as it tackled the Winstone 98 and 3D Winbench 98 tests.  The performance of the 661P is just slightly below that of the ABIT BH6, but overall a very well designed motherboard.

The Bad

The HOT-661P uses the now age old 4/3/1 expansion slot configuration which, while it may be fine for general usage, just doesn't cut it among high end users that demand the greatest number of free PCI slots.  This board might have been a huge hit at the introduction of the BX chipset, but now, it's just another well made board trying to set itself apart from the pack.

 


USB Compatibility

  • Number of Universal Serial Bus Root Ports: 2

  • USB IRQ Enable/Disable in BIOS: Yes

  • USB Keyboard Support in BIOS: Yes

 


Recommended SDRAM

Recommended SDRAM: Mushkin CAS-2 PC100 SDRAM; Memory Man PC100 SDRAM
SDRAM Tested: 1 x 64MB Mushkin CAS-2 PC100 SDRAM; 1 x 64MB Memory-Man PC100 SDRAM

Manufacturer: Mushkin Memory
Purchase Web-Site: http://www.mushkin.com

Manufacturer: The Memory Man
Purchase Web-Site: http://www.memory-man.com

 


The Test

In recent times, choosing a motherboard cannot be completely determined by a Winstone score. Now, many boards come within one Winstone point of each other and therefore the need to benchmark boards against each other falls. Therefore you shouldn't base your decision entirely on the benchmarks you see here, but also on the technical features and advantages of this particular board, seeing as that will probably make the greatest difference in your overall experience.

How I Tested

  • Each benchmark was run a minimum of 2 times and a maximum of 5 times, if the motherboard failed to complete a single test within the 5 allocated test runs the OS/Software was re-installed on a freshly formatted Hard Drive and the BIOS settings were adjusted to prevent the test from failing again.  All such encounters were noted at the exact time of their occurrence.

  • Business Winstone 98 & 3D Winbench 98 was run at each individually tested clock speed, if reliable scores were achieved with the first two test runs of the suite an average of the two was taken and recorded as the final score at that clock speed.  If the test system displayed erratic behavior while the tests were running or the results were incredibly low/high the tests were re-run up to 5 times and an average of all the test runs was taken and recorded at the final score at that clock speed

  • All video tests were conducted using an AGP video accelerator

  • No foreign drivers were present in the test system other than those required for the system to function to the best of its ability

  • All foreign installation files were moved to a separate partition during the test as to prevent them from effecting the test results

  • All tests were conducted at 1024 x 768 x 16-bit color

  • 3D Winbench 98 tests were double buffered and conducted at 800 x 600 x 16-bit color

Test Configuration

Processor(s): Intel Pentium II - 400 OEM
RAM: 1 - 64MB Mushkin CAS-2 PC100 SDRAM DIMM
1 - 64MB Memory Man PC100 SDRAM DIMM
Hard Drive(s): Western Digital Caviar AC35100 - UltraATA
Video Card(s): Matrox Millennium G200 (8MB SGRAM - AGP)
Bus Master Drivers: Microsoft Win98 DMA Drivers
Video Drivers: MGA Millennium G200 Release 1677-411
Operation System(s): Windows 98

 

Ziff Davis Winstone - Windows 95 Performance

Business Winstone 98 3D Winmark 98
Intel Pentium II - 300 (66 x 4.5) 23.2 561
Intel Pentium II Deschutes - 350 (100 x 3.5) 25.8 585
Intel Pentium II Deschutes - 400 (100 x 4.0) 27.7 594
Intel Pentium II Deschutes - 448 (112 x 4.0) 29.5 600

 

 


The Final Decision

Shuttle has done a well rounded job with the HOT-661P, unfortunately, BX motherboards have reached a point in their life span where a well rounded job just doesn't cut it anymore.  At a good price, there is nothing wrong with the 661P, yet be aware of the fact that there is more out there.

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