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Upgrading my Motherboard and Processor

Posted on 2001-09-16
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Hi everyone

I invested a few years ago in a CTX SAK 266 computer with a K6-AMD 266 processsor, 128 mb ram.  (by the way take my advice and NEVER NEVER NEVER buy anything that has anything affiliated with CTX)

I am seriously considering upgrading the motherboard and processor.  My concern is that I cannot just go out and buy a motherboard because I suspect that it has to fit the dimensions of my ctx case.

Where would I get information to find out about newer MB that may have the same dimensions as my motherboard so that I can be assured that it can fit in my case???

My motherboard is a M5ATA.  It seems CTX is no longer in the desktop business so I cant call them for this info.

Secondly, will I need to change anything else if I proceed with this upgrade??

cpalacio
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Question by:cpalacio
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Author Comment

by:cpalacio
ID: 6486062
The manufacturer of the motherboard I think is Biostar.

cpalacio
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Expert Comment

by:micro66
ID: 6486131
Many cases (but not all) are designed for a standard AT, Baby AT, or ATX motherboard.  You can measure the motherboard that you have and note where the components are as a start.

Another way to identify the motherboard is best explained at one of these sites:  http://www.computercraft.com/docs/mbid.html
http://www.motherboards.org/articlesd.html/aid=910/pg=1/
or http://www.stud.fernuni-hagen.de/q3998142/pcchips/index.html

You note the numbers at the bottom of the screen during boot, then, depending on whether it's an Award or AMI BIOS, you look up the numbers as stated on the site.

Depending on who made it (if it's really Biostar; you said you "think" it is), you may be able to identify whether it's one of the three I mentioned above.  If it is standard, or relatively close to standard, then you can replace it with another motherboard of that same type and not have to replace the case.  The screwholes will match (not all of them, but enough to hold it firmly), the slots in the back of the case will align with the cards, and the power supply will have the right kind of connectors to plug into the motherboard (ATX power supplies are different).

Worst case is you can replace the case and power supply with a new, ATX set for perhaps $60 or even less.  If you're planning to upgrade the CPU to something much more modern (like an Athlon 1.0GHz), then you'll need a new power supply anyhow (at least 300 watts), preferably one recommended by AMD.  Many of the much more powerful CPU's are very sensitive to power.  In addition, you may not be able to find much of a selection of motherboards for modern CPU's in anything other than ATX style.

Hope this is helpful.
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Expert Comment

by:Macrobeat
ID: 6486150
From the model number it seems that it is an AT motherboard rather than an ATX. Various manufacturers make motherboards in the AT format.

If you have on board sound/vga/network card/modem you would need to buy those parts. If your existing RAM is not SDRAM you would need to change that too. Existing Floppy drive, optical drive/s (CDRW, DVD etc), hard disks and PCI cards should still be reusable. And you would almost certainly have to change your Power Supply Unit.

www.motherboards.com will link you to various motherboard manufacturers and you can also read reviews of most of the motherboards they have there.

My advice would be to change the case. Go for an ATX case - you normally get the PSU with it and you can then use an ATX motherboard. It should cost more than about $40=50. The best mobos come in ATX format.
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Expert Comment

by:magarity
ID: 6486161
"Secondly, will I need to change anything else if I proceed with this upgrade??"

In addition to a case, you will likely need new memory.  Fortunately, this is EXTREMELY inexpensive right now.  (I just bought 768MB for $110)  Once you select a new motherboard, use www.crucial.com to select some memory for it.

regards,
magarity
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Expert Comment

by:pbessman
ID: 6486237
As Magarity said of Memory I have also seen the same trend with motherboards.  All of these computer components seem to be dropping prices dramatically.
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Author Comment

by:cpalacio
ID: 6486324
Ok, I was able to get the following information regarding my motherboard

OEM                       Biostar
Board/bios version        ATA0323P CTX COMPUTER
Award Id String           03/23/98 - ALi-154x-2A5KIBO9C-00
Award Bios                Award Modular Bios v.4.51PG

I cant however figure out whether this is an AT, baby AT or ATX board.  Macrobeat had suggested that from my initial data it sounded like an AT board.  

IS there anywhere I can be absolutely sure???

Do you think I should call Biostar???

cpalacio
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Expert Comment

by:Macrobeat
ID: 6487109
Regards Magarity's comment - Micron RAM is good (Crucial is a division of Micron) BUT Crucial have some wierd policies. If their US office works the same way as the UK office BE VERY CAREFUL.

They believe that their responsibility ends when they give the goods to the courier. In our case the courier keeps losing the goods and Crucial wash their hands off. They point to the small print in their Terms & Conditions of sale. So we lost hundreds of Pounds Sterling and had a lot of grief.

On my last contact they admit that this is not fair and that they are looking at the T&Cs - but no change just yet.
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Accepted Solution

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Macrobeat earned 1200 total points
ID: 6487343
The M5ATA board is an AT board. The full specification for the board and the manual can be downloaded at:
http://www.biostar.com.tw/support/manual/archives.php3

If you do want another AT board some good makes are Abit, Asus, Chaintech, Gigabytes, and Tyan. You will find links to all these manufacturers on a page I've prepared at:
http://www.bestpricecomputers.ltd.uk/freehelp/clist.htm

I still maintain that it's worth moving up to ATX. Those same manufacuturers above all provide good ATX boards.

hope this helps.
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Author Comment

by:cpalacio
ID: 6512533
thanks for the advice.

cpalacio
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Expert Comment

by:Macrobeat
ID: 6513324
No problem. Glad to be of assistance
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