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Motherboard Swap?!?


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#1 of 28 Chris J R

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Posted September 13 2001 - 04:29 PM

I was recently looking into upgrading my memory, and I went to PC Pitstop and had them run a diag on my machine to see what I have available. It told me that I have 4 slots capable of holding 64meg modules a piece. NOw I would have liked to have slots that would hold more, so I guess the question is, where can I learn about mother board swaps? I know it won't be easy but any info yall could give me would be great. Thanks for the help!!!

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#2 of 28 Rob Gillespie

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Posted September 13 2001 - 08:08 PM

It depends on what you mean by a 'swap' Chris.

Typically, the most effective way to implement such a fundamental hardware upgrade would be to physically build your PC around the new motherboard, then reinstall Windows from fresh.

If you're technically competent, it's possible to to just swap the motherboard and let Windows reinstall all it's device drivers, but this is not always workable and can cause problems later on (but not always).

I would imagine that your motherboard can only take SIMM memory. New boards that use DIMM memory typically can take much higher capacity memory sticks. If this is the case, then the PC sounds like it is probably quite old, in which case it might be more financially prudent to look at a whole system upgrade rather than just the mobo.
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#3 of 28 Darren Lewis

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Posted September 13 2001 - 08:26 PM

Chris, can you post the details of your machine, if possible with model numbers etc. That will give us a better idea of what we're dealing with.
What sort of budget were you looking at?

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#4 of 28 Tim Markley

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Posted September 14 2001 - 05:28 AM

Chris - Here's a few sites to check out:

AnandTech
Tom's Hardware Guide
Sharky Extreme

I especially like the forums at AnandTech. There's a lot of great people there.

#5 of 28 Rob Gillespie

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Posted September 14 2001 - 07:47 AM

Very true, but it can be difficult getting meaningful answers. The sheer amount of traffic they get means your thread will be out of view within a couple of hours.
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#6 of 28 Mike Voigt

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Posted September 14 2001 - 12:07 PM

Chris,

have you ever installed a new card in your PC?

You seem to have installed memory before.

If the above are true, then truth be told building a new PC is not much of a leap. Sure, the first time you handle that bright new shiny processor you just bought you will be a nervous wreck, worried about static discharge and such... Posted ImageI know I was. But other than that, it really isn't terribly hard.

The best solution I have found to start out with is to build a whole new PC from scratch, *with a new hard drive*. Install the OS of your choice - I'd recommend Win2K, it is pretty solid and pretty quick to learn, but if you prefer something else, go for it.

I'd also install the old HD as a secondary drive - AFTER installing the new OS. This allows you access to all your old files, and you can quickly tell which software packages you want to install on your new PC. You will need to reinstall all of those, though.

One thing you definitely will want to do is get all the newest drivers for any cards you put into your PC. Then, if possible, burn them to a CD. That makes them available on almost any system right after installation.

There's lots of people here who have done this before, myself included. Rob is a past master at messing with PCs; Chris Maynard does that kind of stuff all the time, too. Shoot, probably half the Admins around here do that kind of thing - and that's just a very small sample of the folks here.

So ask away, we'll get you through it!

Mike

#7 of 28 Chris J R

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Posted September 15 2001 - 04:48 AM

My puter is a custom built one by a place in houston. It isa PIII 450 with 128 mg of ram, 20gb and 8gb harddrive, imation cdrw etc etc. It is 2.5 yrs old. I was thinking about the whole DIMM SIMM thing. I mean even a few yrs ago the DIMM boards will pretty common, maybe they cut corners and just used an older board perhaps? I have installed memory and cards before-network, sounds etc, but how diff is it running it from scratch? Will I need to mess with the BIOS? Is a mobo swap-to a newer one that is a good idea? It runs ok now but I want to upgrade to WIN2k from ME which is ok just not as stable as I would like. With all the multi-tasking I do-Vis. Basic open and IE and Outlook etc etc etc all open at the same time doing their collective thingsmay slow it down a bit. Anyway, you guys just point me in the right direction and we'll see where to go from there! Thanks for the help!!!!

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#8 of 28 Rob Gillespie

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Posted September 15 2001 - 07:28 AM

OK, I'm a bit surprised that this is a PIII. I was expecting you to say it was a P133 or something!

Confirm this memory issue. Are these DIMM or SIMM sockets? If you're unsure, DIMM sockets are usually black. SIMMs are usually white sockets and are shorter in length.

Personally I'm skeptical about this 64mb module limit.

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#9 of 28 Chris J R

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Posted September 15 2001 - 07:35 AM

I will crack her open later. THat was my whole issue with the thing: I couldn't believe that it only took 64s. I ran a diag at pcpitstop and it told me they were 64 slots. Hmmmm.....glad that doesn't just seem weird to me. I will let yall know tonight. So if indeed they only hold the simms, then is mobo swap diff or should I just start from scratch with a new project. Thanks for the help!!!

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#10 of 28 Rob Gillespie

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Posted September 15 2001 - 07:43 AM

PIIIs run on Slot 1 or FCPGA form-factor motherboards. I'm not sure if there have ever been any that support SIMM. If yours does, I would say it's a rare beast, or at least an old one.

While you've got the case off, see what type of PIII it is. Slot 1 (which I think it will be) has the processor attatched to a riser board, perpendicular to the motherboard itself. FCPGA has the chip sitting in a socket directly on the mobo, with the fan sitting on top. Also see if there is a manufactuer/model number printed anywhere on the mobo, and how many ISA and PCI slots there are, and finally if the board as an AGP socket.

I'd be very surprised if these memory sockets can only take 64mb modules. I'd be interested to know how the shop found this out.

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#11 of 28 Darren Lewis

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Posted September 15 2001 - 09:14 AM

I'd be very surprised if it's not DIMMS. SIMMS have generally to be place in matched pairs (although I had an Oilvetti once that only had one SIMM slot for upgrades!). I was under the impression that ALL P3s used DIMMS.

The P3s evolved quite a lot over their lifespan (in fact they still are with the newer >1GHz models). The earliest ones ran at 66MHz, and the later ones ran at 100MHz and then 133MHz bus speeds. Their memory also ran at these speeds. Most DIMM memory is either 100 or 133MHz speed (some of the earlier DIMM was 66MHz though). You can run memory at a slower speed, ie use 133DIMM with a 100MHz CPU, but it would be unwise in my opinion to do the opposite.

To confuse you even more, DIMM has sveral different types and voltages and can be EDO/SDRAM with ECC/non-ECC. (ECC is similar to parity). As long as the mobo isn't made by a company that uses it's own brand of peripherals (typically IBM/Compaq etc), it'll probably be standard 3.3V unbuffered SDRAM. (There is way to tell by examining the memory card).

I'll also bet it's a slot 1 CPU, as P3-450s didn't come in the newer FC-PGA packaging but rather a Single Edge Contact Cartride 2 (SECC-2). Pentium 2 CPUs came in a SECC, and Celeron's in Single Edge Processor Package (SEPP).
The reasons for the change to and from a cartridge-type slot 1 CPU to the more conventional socket variety was basically to do with cost and the moving to and from different types of CPU cache.

If you're happy with you existing CPU, but need to change the board to increase the RAM, then you may have to look at the second-user market to find a slot-1 board. The newer boards have the FC-PGA socket (called Socket-370).

If you want to change the CPU at this time, then you have a whole heap of options open to you depending on your budget and what exisiting bits you want to keep.

If you want to multi-task a lot, then a dual processor option may be a good one. More on that if you decide on that.

Hope I haven't condused things too much. Let me know if you want things expanding.

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#12 of 28 Darren Lewis

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Posted September 15 2001 - 09:21 AM

Just had another idea...

It might be the BIOS that is limiting the memory. If the motherboard is a branded one, you can probably download a BIOS upgrade from the manufacturer's website.

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#13 of 28 Mike Voigt

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Posted September 15 2001 - 10:28 AM

ASUS makes a pretty good series of motherboards. I use one of theirs in a PC - and it does very well. It is also Slot 1.

Click on the following link to go to their Slot-1 Mobo's:

ASUS Slot 1 Motherboards

Hope this helps.

Mike

#14 of 28 Chris J R

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Posted September 15 2001 - 06:24 PM

Okey doke guys.I cracked her open tonight and found out 2 things: the first is that I have 3 black memory slots, so from earlier I am guessing they are DIMMS. But, 2 are clearly occupied by SIMMS. Any ideas on this one guys? Jerk em out and put in 128s or what? Second as for the chipset, it is sitting perpendicularly to the board with a fan on top of the processor. Well that is all I can think of for now. BTW, I couldn't find any name at all on the mobo. Let me know what you guys think. Thanks for the help!!!

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#15 of 28 SteveMc

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Posted September 15 2001 - 08:26 PM

Do you still have the manual for your motherbaord? I am positive those are DIMM slots and must me DIMMs in them. It depends on what your MB supports though, as far as throwing in new memory. If you don't have the manual, see if the model and name are printed on the board somewhere and look up the specs online. I am assuming they would most likely accept 128MB modules considering it is a pentium 3. I think they would support at least 256 PC100 modules, but you would need the board specs for confimation.

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#16 of 28 Mike Voigt

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Posted September 16 2001 - 12:42 AM

OK, Chris, the mobo will have a lot of writing on it, all over the place. See if you can identify some sort of manufacturer and model number. Given this was built by a custom place in Houston, it probably uses some sort of standard mobo.

Given the riser card for the processor, I'd agree that it probably is a Slot 1 design.

The black slots (are they fairly long?) for the memory would probably indicate a DIMM setup.

If you can identify the mfr and model#, then we can go search on the internet for any updates to the BIOS. There is a decent chance that all you will need to do is install a newer BIOS.

That having been said, there are definitely limitations on the boards. The newer ones come with power options that just were not as available back then. Also, unless I am very mistaken, I doubt you will get an updated BIOS allowing for use of 256M or 512M memory.

Incidentally, the dual-proc mobo I use (also Slot 1) is about the same age as yours. Getting BIOS updates for that one has started to slow down.

Given the architecture, you may want to switch to a new mobo. If so, I would recommend new memory and a new HD for it - the newer drives are much faster than the older ones, it will make a difference for a machine like this.

Really, the process of installing a new mobo is not terribly difficult. The steps below are kind blow-by-blow, and it looks detailed, but it really is not much of a leap from installing cards and memory.

First things first - BACK UP YOUR DATA. If possible, ghost it to CD. Get all of the latest driver versions for your cards, and burn them to CD. Same with any software packages you want.

I would probably recommend a new case (better power modules, chances to install more fans, which is a good thing to do - look for 300W or more).

Get an ATX-style case that has easy access to the mobo as well as to the cards. Get an ATX-style mobo for Slot-1 configurations (see the ASUS like above).

Place mobo on mounting surface, determine which screw mounts you will need to use. There are usually quite a number, you will need about 8-10.

Install any standoffs, both the brass kind (used later for screws) and the plastic kind (they just click in place) on both the mounting surface and on the mobo.

Install the processor holding brackets.

Attach mobo to case - usually about 8-10 screws. Do NOT use a magnetized screwdriver for this!

Slide the processor into the slot until it clicks in (there are retaining tabs on either side of the slot holding mechanism). Attach power to fan (there is a 2-prong or 3-prong connector for this on the mobo).

Slide the memory in place. With an open mobo, they are usually ridiculously easy to install, not the contorted mess they often become once it is in the case.

Install the new hard drive (not the other ones, yet), floppy drive, and CD drive into case. Attach power cords and cables.

Put mobo into case, insert the most important cards (I'd start with video and audio, leaving the other stuff for later; this is to avoid any potential conflicts).

Attach keyboard, mouse, and monitor. Boot the computer, go into setup, change parameters to boot off of floppy, then HD, then CD (this is all in one area). Save the settings. Reboot with the hard drive configuration floppy in the drive. Format your hard drive as you wish (one large area, split into multiple "drives", etc.). Given you want Win2K, I would recommend setting up at least 2 partitions, one for the OS (C-drive), one for all the other stuff (D-drive). Make sure one of the partitions is a bootable one. Also, given Win2K, I'd recommend NTFS as a file system UNLESS you also plan to share with other OSes (Win98, for example). If the latter, stick with FAT32.

Reboot with the Win2K CD-ROM, and install the new OS on the hard drive. On Win2K for a 450MHz and a 7200RPM drive, this'll take an hour or less.

Reboot, let it start off of the HD. Configure the machine as you want in Win2K.

Shut down, install the other cards and the old HDs.

Reboot, go into setup, find the old HDs. Save config, then start into Win2K and let it configure those cards.

Have fun installing all your software.

Go out to the internet, to Microsoft's support site, and get all of the updates to Win2K.

You should be sitting on a pristine machine, with a fast hard drive, a mobo with decent expansion potential, latest drivers, lots of memory, all your old data, and up to date software. Nto too bad!

Posted Image

Hope this helps. I would appreciate the other gearheads around here to check my run-down, see if there are any items I missed. It has been about a year since I did this.

Regards,

Mike

#17 of 28 Darren Lewis

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Posted September 16 2001 - 02:03 AM

Sounds good to me Mike Posted Image

Not all motherboards are branded. Some of the real cheap and nasty variety are the so-called "generic" brands with little or no online support.

When building a machine it's best no to plug in all the cards at the same time as if there's a fault/conflict it'll be a bugger to find. Build a bare-bones system, and tehn add sound etc later one at a time.

I'd strongly recommend ASUS boards. Their manuals are good, and their website has lots of useful info/advice/updates etc.

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[Edited last by Darren_L on September 16, 2001 at 09:07 AM]

#18 of 28 Glenn Overholt

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Posted September 16 2001 - 02:59 AM

Ok, I figure I'm completely wrong here, but let me say a few things anyway. Chris, you did not mention if you were going to do this yourself or have someone else do it. I'm sure that someone told you that this can be done, and yes, it can.

However, I think what you intended was to just pull the old board out, put the new one in and fire it up. You do need to make some pictorials of where everything was plugged into before you start, and label them.

I have done a few of these myself. After you're done and you fire it up, Windows will probably cough, but work. What you don't know is that the hardware particulars of the board have changed, and if you don't fix them immediately, your whole OS will fall apart, causing you to reload it. (This might take a couple of days).

As others have said, a new board, memory and a CPU can quickly add up, so watch it. Also, if you have the old ISA slots and you're using them, and if the new board doesn't it means buying another card. The same goes for the new video cards that use the AGP slot, and of course a 4X works better than a 2X, so let us know exactly how broke you're willing to go with this.

Glenn

#19 of 28 Mike Voigt

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Posted September 16 2001 - 04:43 AM

Glenn,

broke! Posted Image Whaddya mean, broke! Posted Image


Chris,

here's some rough estimates on costs:

case - 90 bucks for a very nice one, 50 for an ok one.
mobo - 100-200 for a good one. I would spend money here.
memory - cheap these days.
hd - 100-200 bucks. Would get a 7200rpm one, if mobo supports.

Well, there is an alternative.

You could just go ahead and yank everything off of the old mobo, install the new one with everything on it, and fire up Windows off of the old hard drive. I have done that before... it might - or might not - make it, but chances are fair to middlin' on that since you're also not making massive changes in cards (read: drivers are still there). It is the mobo-specific drivers that could get you, and even Win98 is moderately on that. Especially considering you want to install Win2K later on; it'll pull in what is necessary.

But the other way is still the best, read: clean install of new OS and software.

The nice thing about a new mobo is all the stuff you can do later - adding a mongo video card, new types of (usually faster) HD's, power options, more memory, etc., etc., etc.

One issue you will have to resolve ASAP: is the current mobo an AT or an ATX design. Most ATX designs have all main connectors (serial, parallel, keyboard, mouse, USB) attached to the board. Most ATX didn't.

That will help determine whether you need a new case or not - if AT, highly probable. If ATX, your choice, depending on whether the mobo fits.

Regards,

Mike

#20 of 28 Chris J R

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Posted September 16 2001 - 10:43 AM

Guys let me tell you this. Whether or not I upgrade memory is a moot pt. From looking around and the such, it is where the mobo will go-ie in my old puter or in a new one. Gotta love discovering a new project. So now that I have decided that I am gonna start from scratch, what are some things that I want to look for in a mobo etc. For example, what are the new technologies in mobos that I want to look for on one etc etc. Also, where can I look for equipment ie like cards, mobos (btw how will I know what chip will work with what mobo? what is teh chipset for a P4?) Any and all opinions are welcome. I have decided on case atleast Posted Image an Antec SX1030B. I would like to run 2 HDs, perhaps dual 20s or so, maybe more depending on price. Is a P4 a good idea or should I look into an athalon? Also, what are the current trends in memory? Sorry for all the questions guys but yall are such a wealth of info! Thanks for the help guys!!

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