Breathing more life into an “old” PC


As part of this weekend’s fun improving the performance of my aging 3-year old machine at home, I found that I could upgrade to modern day CPU performance for not that much $.

My main machine at home is a 1.4 GHz Dell Dimension 8100. Apparently these machines were built with pretty good componentry, including PC800 memory. Unfortunately, the CPU was Intel’s 423 “Willamette” version, which was quickly replaced my a new incompatible form factor (the 478 pin “Northwood”.) If I were to stick with the 423 form factor, I’d only be able to go to 2GHz, the fastest Intel made in that form factor.

However, Google quickly lead me to PowerLeap, which offers an upgrade kit consisting of a socket converter and 2.8GHz 478 pin CPU for only $249. A 2.6 GHz upgrade is only $219. Doubling my CPU speed for $250 sounds like a heck of deal. I have it on order, and I’ll post here what my experience with it is.


Comments (12)

  1. damien morton says:

    I recently installed one of these and it works well. I even managed to keep my Zalman "flower" heatsink. It works great, and running temperatures have gone way down. All in all, its a great buy thats enabled me to postpone buying a new machine for a year or more.

  2. Anuj Agarwal says:

    PowerLeap adapters work great. I used one to convert a Pentium II 350 Mhz machine to a 1.2GHz Celeron. Used it without any problems.

  3. Skywing says:

    Of course, it’s quite possible that other system components (FSB? RAM? video card?) will become a major bottleneck if you do something like that (particularly in the case of that 350MHz P2, I’ll bet). I considered getting one of those things in the past, but decided against it for the reason I stated above.

  4. Matt Pietrek says:

    The RAM is PC800 which shouldn’t be a huge bottleneck. I checked out the benchmarks with the upgrade and they didn’t seem limited by memory speed.

    The FSB on the new chip is 400Mhz. I know they’re up to at least 533Mhz these days. For $250 vs the cost of a new workstation, I’ll blow the $250.

    The video is an ATI 9500 I bought awhile back. It’s not going to lead the pack, but it won’t be embarassingly slow either.

    I figure if I get an extra year out of the machine, the $250 is worth it.

  5. jaybaz [MS] says:

    Instead of $250 for a new CPU, why not spend a few bucks more and get a whole PC?

    The Dell 400SC (2.8GHz) is often available for under $300 after rebate. It’s dead silent. 2x SATA. 6 USB (+2 more available). 1000Base-T. And more….

    Watch techbargains.com for the rebate, and http://www.aaltonen.us/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8 for the tweaks.

  6. Matt Pietrek says:

    Good point about the PowerEdge. However, to configure it to be roughly equivalent to what I have now, it’d be about $750. I don’t feel like gutting my current machine to get componentry for a new box.

    My goal with the CPU upgrade is to keep the system pretty snappy until I can jump on the dual core bandwagon, hopefully late next year.

  7. Fei Liu says:

    This leads to my question: how do you guys handle the spare computer parts? I have a few parts that don’t really fit into anything and simply gather dust in the corner.

  8. Skywing says:

    Put them together to make an extra computer, of course!

    I’ve accumulated enough spare parts after successive hardware upgrades to do this twice. Of course, I only have one of those systems still (a 200MHz Pentium that has a nice mix of parts including an ancient 500MB HD (it’s oldest component, I think…)), but it works nicely as a router/firewall.