Aging PC? functional CPU Upgrade From Single to Dual chief 64bit OS A Pe…

After trawling the internet for a number of weeks, I finally took the drop and decided to go ahead. The first strategy was to locate and find my motherboard serial number and computer version. Secondly, with a generic PC by major computer companies HP, Dell, Packard Bell, you may find accessing all options in the BIOS on startup severely limited, as they are re-written to suit the various motherboard chip configurations dependent on the various models issued. So an upgrade may be necessary to permit dual chief use. This was determined to be the case here. More on this later.

By far the easiest way to find the serial number, is to delve inside the PC, always taking the precaution of removing all the strength cables and ancillary add-ons. Additionally, wearing an anti-static wristband to ‘earth’ yourself is extremely important to protect your new CPU and internal semi-conductors investment. The motherboard serial number can be found, usually between the PCI slots or around the edge of the board. This information may be obtained by using various software packages and the windows system info option, but we want to keep this ‘bombproof’ and cheap don’t we? Visually checking the hardware will do this and provide practice in overcoming the fear of ‘operating’ on your PC. At this stage we are only looking aren’t we? The manufacturers website is usually forthcoming with hardware information once you have pinpointed your form, and this can be crosschecked with your physical findings. The old addage ‘measure twice – cut once’ is very apt in doing anything to your PC. At this point finding your BIOS chip is also useful, taking observe of the manufacturer and serial numbers. You may have a paper label which needs to be gently peeled back to show the information.

Ok, so the next stage was to find the fastest CPU recommended by HP in this case, for the motherboard. The single chief AMD 3700+ had never given me problems in the past but I found it increasingly difficult to use Photoshop CS5 (32bit) with any speed. The setup was OK in preferences, CS5 Bridge however, was taking forever in opening images from my external hard excursion. Always keep your irreplaceable files off the main PC! The fastest CPU obtainable for the motherboard was an AMD x2 4800+ (socket 939, always check your socket is compatible!) Having read very favourable reviews on the CPU (top of the range on release, but price prohibitive originally $1001) I endeavoured to find one on Ebay. Low and behold, several used and new items were found at a tenth of the initial price and one was secured. I know many of you may think that these are old chips now and do not keep up their own compared to the state of the art CPU’s currently on the market. However this is an upgrade for an ageing PC (5years old!) remember, and for those on a tight budget, the pros of upgrading outweigh the cons of purchasing a new PC.

Armed with the new chip I eagerly put on my wristband, removed the strength supply plug, removed the side panal, located the fan and heatsink spring and removed them. Good opportunity to give them a good clean using a quality decorators brush. I removed the CPU after releasing the retaining arm fully and dropped in the new CPU. Job done I thought, now we see if the BIOS really does need an upgrade. strength cable inserted, monitor attached, and fired up. Oh dear! Fan on overdrive, blank screen, would not already POST. Pulled the strength and replaced the CPU with the ‘old’ one and reassembled. Just a observe here, there was plenty of heatsinking paste left from the last installation. This was re-applied in all situations with an old credit card to assure a thin film and correct heat dissipation. The heatsink clip was fiddly- the rule- don’t force anything! You could damage the motherboard. thorough breaths and patience required.

BIOS update. The words themselves bore thorough into the soul and promote fear at the very thought. If anyone has done this before and killed their PC then I can understand the trepidation. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it’ is a great rule but in this case, there is no option. I had been there 4 years ago and luckily the PC was nevertheless under warranty. New motherboard and CPU. Now, I was on my own. However, I had just bought a CPU, so I was out of pocket there. I had downloaded what I deemed to be the right BIOS update from HP. I had also thought better of it and downloaded two bios updates from for a charge of $37. Surely they had sent me the right one?. I had given them the serial numbers and my upgrade intent. Was it really the BIOS or had I bought a duff CPU? Only one way to find out. There was no way out, short of going back, and I’d committed myself. An upgrade would not give my old CPU a problem, installing the wrong BIOS though, would completely screw the whole PC. I sat on the idea for at the minimum 3 days. It all boiled down to this. Can I live with the fact that I could have a desktop doorstep, or a great PC upgrade for the use I wanted. For some inexplicable reason one friday night, the decision was made. I could live with the decision.

I had the choice of 3 updates. I dismissed my own free download because it couldn’t be verified. From the 2 purchased, I clicked on the HP BIOS. Before I had chance to doubt the risk of updating by windows XP, the job was done! A restart proved an update from phoenix award (vers 6.00PG) 3.4 to 3.47, no problems whatsoever. I couldn’t believe it!

So now, after replacing the old CPU with the new dual chief, everything worked beautifully. BIOS recognised the CPU, and CS5 was better. ‘Let’s push things a little further’ I thought. I have recently purchased a laptop for work and have been very impressed with the 64bit Win 7 OS. What if I upgraded the old desktop OS? Afterall, it had been gathering god knows what rubbish on the ‘C’ excursion and most of the programs were not used. A spring-clean was needed, and a clean excursion would be a great start.

I had always been diligent in keeping my PC regularly defragged, registry cleaned and generally up to par, but I hankered after 64bit CS5 and the ability of an increased workflow. I debated using windows move, but I would only be transferring garbage, wouldn’t I? I used it to backup to an ext. hard excursion, it took forever (4days!) but did not move the files back. A clean install of windows 7 64bit from a bought disc, was so clean I hardly remember it. I now have only the programs I need. Gather your discs and any download.exe files and reg. keys beforehand! They all run beautifully. I use a 16GB ‘ readyboost’ flash stick, have 4GB ram installed and the complete system runs almost as fast as my new laptop AMD Turion II N530. Photoshop CS5 runs so quickly, the opening images in bridge are almost moment and I can utilise the ram to render in record (for me!) time. I use the empty internal partition ‘D’ excursion for the CS5 scratch disc use.

In conclusion, I evaluated the risk, took an educated gamble, and was repaid 10 fold. There have been huge improvements in PC technology in the last 5years. Before you fragment your ‘old’ desktop, probe the possibility of an upgrade. The amount I spent, would not have bought a substitute PC, and the additional I saved, I used to update the video card. It will certainly last another 3-5 years for the programs I use it for, so go ahead and review your own needs, and replace your fears with a little optimism. It will reward you.

A very famous regiment use the motto ‘knowledge dispels fear’ it never lets you down.

To your health and success in 2011

Steve Sandilands

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