Shuttle is one board company that really knows how to get the most out of a design. With the i440ZX, i440BX, and Apollo Pro Plus being virtually interchangeable, a PCB design was not necessary and Shuttle has been able to simply drop in the various chipsets onto one PCB and meet three different markets.

The i440BX is the highest end solution and is featured in the HOT-681, which is naturally the most expensive. The HOT-681Z features the i440ZX chipset and is virtually identical to the HOT-681 with one DIMM slot removed. Being based on the i440ZX, of course, brings a lower price tag to the party. The HOT-681V is the latest in the series and features the Apollo Pro Plus chipset from Via. This board brings the low cost of the i440ZX and the full feature set of the i440BX.

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Motherboard Specifications

CPU Interface Socket-370
Chipset Via Apollo Pro Plus
L2 Cache N/A (on-chip)
Form Factor ATX
Bus Speeds

66 / 75 / 83
100 /
103 / 112 / 133

Clock Multipliers 3.5x - 8x
Voltages Supported Auto Detect
Memory Slots 3 168pin DIMM Slots
Expansion Slots 1 AGP Slot
4 PCI Slots (4 Full Length)
3 ISA Slot (1 Shared / 3 Full Length)
BIOS Award 4.51PG

The Good

Click to enlarge

The HOT-681V follows the traditional Shuttle mold using a new chipset on a tried and true PCB. This time, Shuttle has taken the HOT-681 and substituted the Via Apollo Pro Plus chipset for the i440BX. Unlike the loss of a DIMM slot that occurred when implementing the i440ZX in the HOT-681Z, the HOT-681V has all the features of the HOT-681, including 3 DIMM slots. To keep costs down just a bit further, the HOT-681V does not feature a heatsink on the Northbridge chip (despite what is shown in the picture at right from Shuttle's website).

Thanks to the use of the HOT-681's PCB, the board layout is quite good, featuring Shuttle's classic 4/3/1 (PCI/ISA/AGP) slot configuration. While this is pretty good for a Socket-370 board, many users would probably still prefer the 5/2/1 configuration with the immenent death of ISA.

The ATX specification is followed virtually to the letter with the 681V, giving it an excellent layout. All HDD/FDD connectors are located where they should be, right at the front of the board, so that no cables are forced to run over the CPU and/or memory. The ATX power connector is right next to the FDD connector at the corner of the board, right where the ATX specification says it should be, which helps to minimize cable clutter even further. The board a standard ATX format, but is extremely short - just a bit longer than an ISA slot - and should just fine in any ATX case.

Nine 1000uF capacitors are located immediately around the CPU socket with a few smaller ones located around the DIMM slots. The layout of the HOT-681V also places a CPU fan connector directly adjacent to the CPU socket, with another fan connector on the open side of the AGP port to allow for easier access when blindly plugging in fans into your already filled system.

As has been the case with most of the Shuttle boards AnandTech has tested, a hardware monitoring option is offered on the HOT-681V, but remember that it is an option - one that was not included on our evaluation board. It uses the increasingly popular Winbond 83781D to monitor 3 fans, 6 voltages, and up to 3 temperatures. That means one of the fans, the one between the first and second PCI slots, is not monitored. The reason for "up to 3 temperatures" is that the Winbond hardware monitor can only monitor one temperature on its own - the temperature of the Winbond chip itself. In order to monitor the other two temperatures, such as that of the CPU, the Winbond chip requires an external thermistor. Shuttle has provided an EISCA cooler connector at the front of the board that when hooked to EISCA heatsink/fan will allow the Winbond chip to measure the CPU temperature.

Unlike most other Shuttle boards, but like the rest of the rest of the HOT-681 series, the HOT-681V does not feature Shuttle's SoftMenu-like CPU PnP setup. This board features a completely jumpered setup. As long as your not overclocking, this is not going to matter at all since the bus speed can be autodetected via B21 and the multiplier on all Socket-370 CPU's is fixed. Naturally, the HOT-681V properly detected the Intel Celeron 366 AnandTech used for testing.

Overclockers will find the common FSB speeds 66/75/83/100/103/112/133 available via the jumpered setup. A separate jumper for over riding the state of B21 is also available near the DIMM slots and is documented in the manual. Speaking of that manual, the classic Shuttle Installation Guide is included to get you started. A CD-ROM is also the classic Shuttle fare - a few utilities, including chipset patches for Windows 95, bus master drivers, etc. The full manual is also found on that CD-ROM is Adobe Acrobat format.

The virtually standard Award 4.51PG BIOS is featured on the 661V with a few extra settings for the Apollo Pro Plus chipset. Settings for enabling AGP 2x and configuring the AGP aperture size are available there as well. Interestingly, there are actually settings for configuring the SDRAM timing - something that is almost always automatically done these days via the SDRAM SPD. Options for SDRAM timing include normal, turbo, 8ns, and 10ns. A separate option toggles one of the Apollo Pro Plus's most unique features - the ability to run the SDRAM at the FSB speed or the AGP speed. With this option, one can use their old PC66 SDRAM in conjunction with 100MHz bus speeds - perfect for all you upgraders out there.

Power management consists of pretty much the standard stuff these days. A wake on-LAN header is available to allow the system to resume on network activity and the BIOS can be set to turn on the system at a specific time. The CPU fan can be shut off when the system suspends to quiet things down a bit. ACPI support is built into the BIOS for added power management under an ACPI compliant OS like Windows 98 or Windows 2000.

The Bad & Features
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