Motherboard Advice Needed

Do you have a question? Post it now! No Registration Necessary.  Now with pictures!

Threaded View
A friend who runs a small business asked me to help her make her Compaq 100
B PCs run faster.  It turns out they have plenty of RAM but a very slow pro
cessor that appears to be soldered directly to the motherboard.  Since this
 system does not have an internal power supply, I presume she will need a n
ew chassis, power supply, motherboard, and CPU (assuming she can re-use her
 2 sticks of 4GB DDR3-1333 RAM per PC).  So far, do you agree?

She has several machines to upgrade and wants to minimize expenses so I loo
ked for CPUs under $50.  Do you agree that we can get the best bang for the
 buck with an AMD processor and appropriate motherboard?

One CPU I looked at is the Phenom 9850 Quad Core for around $50.  At this p
rice, I think it looks like a good candidate.  It takes a AM2 or AM2+ socke
t.  Is this socket a good choice?  If so, and if you think she should proce
ed along these lines, can you recommend an inexpensive motherboard that wil
l take this processor?


Re: Motherboard Advice Needed

Bob Simon wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it

This chart can help you spot good choices. But the prices
on the used stuff could be wildly off, as could the resulting
value metric. For example, my E8400 wasn't $27.00 when I bought it,
it was a lot more. At the time I purchased it, the value metric
was terrible.

                                 Passmark   Rank   Value   Imaginary
                                                   Metric  Price

AMD E-350 (2C)                  755        1555     NA       NA

AMD Phenom 9850 Quad-Core (4C)  2920       723    58.41   $50.00*

E8400 @ 3.00GHz (my CPU, 2C)    2179       930    80.71   $27.00

So the E-350 is a third the speed of the machine I am typing on.

I think my greatest fear would be throwing good
money after bad.

The very first question I'd have, is about the OS license.
If the machines came with OEM Win7, it would be tied
to the "Compaq" SLIC table of the motherboard. Meaning that
a non-Compaq motherboard, would invalidate OS activation.

So before suggesting any hardware solution, you need to
address the OS issue first.


You could try shopping around Tigerdirect and see if they
have something. This particular item is used ("off lease"),
so it's been under someone else's desk for the last 3 years.

Before buying too old an item, remember that some brands
of PCs had a terrible time with "bad caps". So don't go
too far back in time. There were some particular Dell
models with a 95% fallout rate - you could only buy those
if they were "re-capped". When you find a model number
of something you like, try a Google on the model number
plus terms like "bad caps" and see if the model is
affected. Some of those are so bad, you cannot
even shop for a replacement motherboard and
expect it to last any better. Only a re-capped
board, done by someone who knows what they're doing,
is worth the purchase price. So do the research, before
plunking down the money.

An off-lease machine could need maintenance. New CR2032
battery for the coin cell. Replacement of worn cooling
fans (make sure the fans are standard size and form factor).
The power supply could be shot. The smaller the form-factor
of PC, the harder it is to find replacement power supplies.
You might even need to swap the hard drive or optical drive
from the old PC (if it'll fit, and if the off-lease
machine drives are worn out). For example, a machine that's
been sitting in a public library could be pretty beat up.
So while you can save money, the machines may not be "perfect".


Re: Motherboard Advice Needed

On Friday, September 18, 2015 at 6:38:53 PM UTC-5, Paul wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it
Quoted text here. Click to load it

Thanks for your informative reply.

The owner does not know anything about the OS licenses and since this machi
ne came with Win7 pre-installed, you may be right about it being an OEM ver
sion.  How can I determine for sure if this is the case?  I assumed that I  
could install Win7 in a new system using the old license key.  If not, as y
ou suggested, upgrading the system would no longer be a cost-effective opti
on.  DRAT!

For general purpose computing, what do you think the minimum acceptable Pas
smark score would be?  2000?  2500?

Re: Motherboard Advice Needed

Bob Simon wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it

I generally work in terms of clocks.

A dual core at 2GHz would be a minimum.

My E8400 is a dual core at 3GHz. And considering how
pudgy modern OSes are, I now consider the E8400 to be
a minimum.

If we use Passmark, it would be 2000 in a dual core, and
4000 in a quad core processor. That's to get enough single
threaded performance (which is what most users see and feel,
most of the time).

I do own another machine, which is 7x faster than the E8400
in certain situations. I run 7ZIP on it, and compress backup
files. Yet, for all of its multi-threaded goodness, as
a desktop experience it feels about as fast as the E8400.
It's not until you get out a stop watch, and see the rate
it can compress to .7z archive, that you appreciate how
much more powerful it is.

As a representative sample, I picked this one. I selected
dual core, to keep the price down. It has a high clock,
which gives good single-threaded performance. It won't
compress to .7Z as fast as my $1400 base price computer,
but I don't really think you care about that :-) This
will actually feel faster than my new machine, when
opening Microsoft Word. By a small amount. There is a
newer version of this coming out soon, for $117 (Skylake/Broadwell
generation). But this is available for purchase today.

"Intel Core i3-4170 3M Haswell Dual-Core 3.7 GHz LGA 1150 54W" $125

# of Cores      2
# of Threads    4

Clock           3.7 GHz
Cache           3MB

The cache is relatively insensitive. I have owned a 2.6GHz 2MB cache
Intel, and the 3.0GHz 6MB cache E8400, and with few exceptions,
they "feel the same". The E8400 can do 7ZIP about 50% faster
than the E4700, and part of that is due to the cache. The cache
does make a difference for some things. But not for Microsoft Word
or Firefox web browser. Lots of regular desktop stuff, you
can't tell the difference with 2MB cache or 6MB cache or 12MB cache.
The E4700 setup even had deadly slow RAM (DDR2-533) and it *still*
didn't make a difference.

The IPC on Intel is a bit better than AMD. Say the Intel was
1.33x the Instructions Per Clock of the AMD. Then a 4GHz AMD
feels the same as a 3GHz Intel. So when you see an AMD with a
high clock, yes, it's nice, but the Intel is always just
a little bit ahead. AMD does have a high clock processor,
and it is considered to be "overclocked out of the box".
But it also draws 220W while doing that, so it's some
sort of poster boy for bad behavior (wasting power).

AMD generally adjusts their price, to remain comparable
to Intel. That's how I can double-check that I haven't made
a gross error in a selection.

"AMD A10-7850K Kaveri 4 CPU  3.7 GHz 4MB cache   Socket FM2+ 95W"  $130

Now, check the Passmark. Even though the 7850K is listed as 4 CPU,
it's actual two dual-issue modules inside, and behaves in some ways like
"2 CPU".

AMD A10-7850K APU       5589
Intel Core i3-4170      5153

If we look at an 1100T, which is a true hex core...

AMD Phenom II X6 1100T    5866

you would probably notice the single threaded was a bit worse.
We would divide the 5866 by 6 to get a crude estimate of
how much a single thread could get.


Part of your exercise for the "customer", is showing
"improvement for dollars". So unlike buying a computer
for a naive user, you're now in the unpleasant situation
of (somehow) impressing this person, with how the money
was well spent. A very dangerous position to be in,
and either requiring deep pockets on your part
(to test and vet stuff), or an unlimited budget
from the customer (which you've already indicated
isn't going to happen).

There was a time, when this sort of exercise was
a slam dunk. When I had my 300MHz Celeron with no cache
on it, and I plugged in a Tualatin 1400MHz processor
(which had at least some cache), the difference was
night and day. That doesn't happen any more. That's why
you have to go for the clock rate, and hope for the best :-)

I would build up one prototype first, before kitting
up for X systems, just to be sure you're on the right path.

If you have a Win7 installer DVD, you can click the "Next"
button when it asks for the license key, and the OS will
run for 30 days without a license. That is sufficient
for testing prototypes (you can't give the customer the
machine that way, as the license will expire). On Win8,
you cannot click Next, but there are some install-only keys
available which you can use to get your 30 days grace.
On Win10, no install-only keys have been spotted yet. And
you cannot upgrade a Win7 install that has no license key,
to Win10. The free upgrade to Win10 requires a license key
in Win7 (I've already tried that).

Good luck,

Re: Motherboard Advice Needed

On Sunday, September 20, 2015 at 1:28:06 PM UTC-5, Paul wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it
Quoted text here. Click to load it

I think I found an acceptable system from a major mfg for under $350: HP 45
0-010 Slimline Desktop.
( product link shortened)

Intel Core i3-4170 3.7 GHz (upgradable to i7-4790 3.6 GHz if needed in the  
future), 4 GB RAM (which I would replace with the two sticks of Crucial 4GB
 DDR3-1333 in each of the old systems), 1 TB HDD, Intel HD Graphics 4400).  
 Passmark score of 5153.  Comes with Win8 upgradable to Win10.

Do you see anything in this system that concerns you?

Meanwhile, I will keep looking.

Thanks for your advice on this little project.  You've already helped avoid
 damaging this woman's friendship with me a couple of times.  :-)

Re: Motherboard Advice Needed

Bob Simon wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it

I started here.

It's a dual channel machine but comes with
one stick of RAM. Part of the reason for the choice they've made,
is the capacity of RAM chips is getting large enough, that you
can get 4GB from a single-sided DIMM (8 chips on one side).
So that was about as "small" a RAM setup as they could manage
(without going too non-standard). An enthusiast would use
2x4GB so both channels would be occupied, but that's not
a priority.

One anomaly in the PDF spec, is it says it has a PCI Express x16
slot (where you would normally put the video card), but the unit
has built-in graphics in the processor. So in the case of
the machine depicted in the advert, I don't see how there could
be anything in that slot. Your video card upgrade choices
would be limited, with the 180W internal power supply being
one limitation, and the low profile short card slot being
the other limitation. There might only be a handful of upgrade
solutions, and not much "stronger" than the GPU in the processor.

The machine does not come with a monitor. The computer has
HDMI and VGA on the back. I like to verify, with these integrated
GPU processors, that there is a GPU in the one I'm buying. There
have been cases where a non-GPU processor is placed in a machine
with monitor connectors on the back, and then the monitor
connectors don't work :-) And yes, it has HD 4400. With some
specs we can't be absolutely sure of...

    Processor Graphics   Intel HD Graphics 4400  (possibly 12 EU)

    ( )

As expected, it comes with a RealTek network interface chip. Generally
RealTek provides jumbo drivers, so I cannot narrow down the actual
chip any finer than that.

    Realtek NIC Driver

    Version:8.038.0115.2015 Rev.A Sep 19, 2015

The Wifi is 802.11n, which should be adequate. The listed drivers
leave more than one choice, which means it is probably RealTek
as well (for price reasons).

It comes with Windows 8.1 Core, so it's not Pro and not intended for
operation with a Domain. Which might be fine. If and when upgraded
to Win10, it would be Win10 Core as well.

When an OEM Business machine ships with Win 8.1 Pro, you get downgrade
rights to Win7 Pro. So this machine would have no downgrade rights.
That makes the machine a bit cheaper to provide an OS.

And the word processing package is a switch - it comes with
Kingsoft WPS Office. That a company in the Far East, attempting
to make a Microsoft Office clone.

If the new owner doesn't like the OS interface, you can load up
Start8 or ClassicShell to restore a slightly different look
to the thing.

I guess the box makes me about as happy as I could expect
to be with an OEM PC :-) Limited expansion possibilities,
180W power supply that will be hard to replace if it blows.
But, at least it isn't a complete disaster. I've seen worse.

I don't know why it comes with a keyboard and mouse. Maybe
you can store those in the supply cabinet.


Re: Motherboard Advice Needed

On Sunday, September 20, 2015 at 8:58:07 PM UTC-5, Paul wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it
Quoted text here. Click to load it
Quoted text here. Click to load it
Quoted text here. Click to load it
Quoted text here. Click to load it
Quoted text here. Click to load it
Quoted text here. Click to load it
Quoted text here. Click to load it
P 450-010 Slimline Desktop.
Quoted text here. Click to load it
the future), 4 GB RAM (which I would replace with the two sticks of Crucial
 4GB DDR3-1333 in each of the old systems), 1 TB HDD, Intel HD Graphics 440
0).  Passmark score of 5153.  Comes with Win8 upgradable to Win10.
Quoted text here. Click to load it
void damaging this woman's friendship with me a couple of times.  :-)
Quoted text here. Click to load it
Quoted text here. Click to load it
Quoted text here. Click to load it

For this application, I doubt that mediocre video performance will matter,  
nevertheless, your comments left me wanting a better option.  So I went bac
k to your suggestion to check out Tiger Direct's off-lease systems and foun
d three under $250 that all look good to me:

HP Compaq Elite 8000 Desktop PC - Intel Core 2 Quad Q9505 2.83GHz $249.99 (
Passmark: 3641)

HP Elite 8100 SFF PC - Intel Core i5 3.2G $239.99 (Passmark: 6933)

HP Compaq 8200 Elite Series Desktop - Intel(R) Core(tm) i3-2100 3.1 GHz $22
9.99 (Passmark: 3629)

Based on the Passmark scores, I would expect the 8100 with its i5 to way ou
tperform the other two and the price is good.  Do you see any major issues  
with this system?

Re: Motherboard Advice Needed

Bob Simon wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it

The 8100 has "GMA 4500" graphics. That's about as low as you can
go. You wouldn't catch me buying that :-)

The Compaq Elite 8000 has NVIDIA Quadro NVS 290. It
has 256MB of onboard graphics memory. It's a 21W card.
With classic 6.4GB/sec graphics memory bandwidth.
(They've used that speed on the low end $50 cards
forever and ever.) So that's not exactly a barn burner.
I probably have four video cards with that same weak

The Compaq 8200 Elite has a GPU inside the CPU, and
it is HD 2000. It has 6 EU (execution units). The
machine we were previously discussing had 12 EU.

(has a table with the EU info...),4.html

Using this...

    Quadro NVS 290   G3D =  99
    Intel HD 3000    G3D = 310  (so the HD 2000 is half that, and still faster than the NVS 290)
    Intel G45/G43    G3D =  70  (G43 contains Intel GMA X4500)

And the machine from yesterday, with HD 4400

    Intel HD 4400    G3D = 545

Have a look through the videocardbenchmark thing
for something you like.


Site Timeline