CPU Upgrade

I have an PIII 800Mhz Hewlett Packard Vectra Model no. VL 400 800/128/10. I was thinking about upgrading the CPU, to around the 2.0Ghz mark. Would my machine take a P4 CPU? If not, what would be the limit? Also, is changing these things over simple - i.e like changing a graphics card - or a complex, shop job (I have about average know how - not an expert)? I also add that this current CPU has no fan but an array of cooling fins - does that matter?

Not in a tremendous rush here, but interested to test the waters.




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Upgrading to P4 means you need a new P4 motherboard. PIII 800 processor uses Socket-370 whlie a P4 2.0GHz uses Socket-478. Not sure about the HP Vectra model, but I believe that the model uses a non-standard motherboard form factor. If you want an upgrade then only HP can help you. I strongly suggest you get youself a new ATX case and fit it a new P4 Sokect-478 motherboard with P4 2.0GHz. But this new upgrade may also require you to use DDR RAM. You may use back your old HDD, FDD, CDROM and any other PCI and AGP card from the HP machine.
alanhllAuthor Commented:
...so in practical terms, owing to the non standard mobo - I can't really upgrade!?

Anyone else have an epinion?


Since shaharidzal is 100% correct, no other useful opinion is possible.

1) HP always uses a proprietary design and are inherently NON-upgradeable.
2) Your PIII motherboard will NOT accept a P4 CPU.
3) Your best bet is to get a NEW system entirely.
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The only possile upgrade would be another PIII.  If you have a 133 MHz FSB on your current PIII, you might be able to put in up to a 1.4 GHz PIII, which is a really old server chip and a bit over-priced.  You could get a 1.2 GHz PIII for a lot less.  If your motherboard only supports a 100MHz FSB, the top processor you could put in is an 850MHz PIII.  A 50MHz boost isn't worth the time it would take to swap the processors.

If you want to build a new system, you may be able to keep your AGP card, but the newest AGP 8x motherboards may not support older AGP 1x and AGP 2x cards.  You can keep your harddrive, but chances are it is pretty small and slow compared to what you can buy cheaply today.  You should be able to keep your monitor, keyboad and mouse which you might otherwise be forced to buy if you get an entirely new system.

I have to agress with jhance though, your best bet is to buy (or build) a new system.

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Change a new system.
alanhllAuthor Commented:
Surprising and disappointing to learn that - I would have expected no such restrictions. But the machine does go really well as is, so not all is lost by any means.

Take the points terageek (thanks too shaharidzal +jhance) - but as a footnote can you quickly tell me what FSB is please?
FSB = Front Side Bus

The FSB (front side bus) connects the processor to the chipset.  The chipset and CPU must use the same FSB protocol and frequency in order to work together.  The Pentium 4 uses a different FSB from the PIII.  Also, it worn't work if you try to use a processor with a higher FSB speed than your chipset supports.  Well, actually it may work, but you will end up underclocking your processor.
Actually, most VL400s are more upgradeable than mentioned earlier. Whether an upgrade would produce a significant performance boost depends on whether the PIII 800 processor in your system is already a 133 MHz FSB 800"EB" version or the slower 100 MHz FSB 800"E". If you have the 800E, you can upgrade with a noticeable performance boost.

I think your question mark is going to be whether the VL400 BIOS (press F2 at the HP logo during bootup) will allow the newer processors and supply the correct 1.5-1.6V core voltage to a newer CPU. That can be a problem with brand name proprietary BIOS. I've upgraded several 440BX and 815 chipset brand name computers to Tualatin CPUs using the Lin-Lin converter, including an HP Pavilion, but no VL400's specifically.

You might need to upgrade to the latest VL400 BIOS. Read procedures carefully.

Tech reference manuals can be found here:

Your system board is Intel 815 chipset which will run both 100/133 MHz FSB. It has a standard Socket370. Granted, the heatsink and fan is not standard. Your fan is on the opposite end of a large plastic box that channels the air directly from the CPU heatsink out the back of the chassis. Remove the channel and heatsink and you can mount a standard PIII/Celeron Tualatin-grade heatsink fan. There is a fan power connector on your system board.

Your board without modification supports PPGA/FCPGA Celerons and Pentium III's up to 1.1GHz, but you wouldn't see hardly any advantage upgrading to those processors. With an $8.00 Lin-Lin FCPGA2 "Tualatin" Converter like those available at www.Computergeeks.com or www.eBay.com you can buy an inexpensive Celeron 1.3GHz ($40 at www.NEWEGG.COM) or Celeron 1.4GHz (www.ebay.com or www.pricewatch.com) which are in the same class as any 100 MHz FSB PIII with 256K cache. You "might" be able to upgrade to the fastest Pentium III 1.4GHz 512K cache although newer Tualatin-based and server system boards can take advantage of that extra 256K cache.

If you are still operating with only the original 128MB PC100 or PC133 SDRAM and have a Windows 2000 model Vectra you have a bad bottleneck there. You'll see a big improvement if you get that up to 256MB memory or more. You've got 2 memory slots, each can accept up to a 256MB PC133 non-ECC, unbuffered memory module. If you have one slot open yet, I'd add a 256MB module to your 128MB, totaling 384MB. Make sure you order or ask for "low density" PC133 which uses 16x8 or 32x8 DRAM chips. Most of the less expensive PC133 uses high density DRAM chips which won't work on your Intel chipset board.

The next good upgrade you might consider is getting rid of your 10GB 5400RPM hard drive and searching for an older 7200RPM Western Digital WD400JB or WD600JB "Special Edition" drive with 8MB buffer. $64-$78 at www.newegg.com or www.zipzoomfly.com.

Even though your VL400 BIOS supports drives up to 137GB in size, your HP install/recovery CD will only let you reinstall on new drives of 60GB and smaller total capacity (including all partitions). Any larger drive and you couldn't use your HP install CD.
alanhllAuthor Commented:
Lotek26. I like you, whoever you are. You deserve points. How though now?

I should point out again, the computer is not something I'm at all frustrated or embarrassed about as it stands, now. I like it. But being semi-technical I definitely like knowing where I could go, upgrades wise down the track a little bit.

Anyway. I have a Maxtor 7200 in it. Makes a big difference. Also GeForce 64mb graphics card. Makes a nice difference. Also bought more (128 MB) PC133 SDRAM for total of 255. Ditto. I didn't know those slots would take 256 each. Very interesting.

What the heck is an '$8.00 Lin-Lin FCPGA2 "Tualatin" Converter'? Software, hardware, firmware??

'...depends on whether the PIII 800 processor in your system is already a 133 MHz FSB 800"EB" version or the slower 100 MHz FSB 800"E". If you have the 800E, you can upgrade with a noticeable performance boost.' - how do I tell, EB or E?

That BIOS upgrade sounds a bit freaky. But I'll have a look at it. I don't want to screw this system up in some fundamental respect like that - it runs unbelievably well now. Really really stable.

Hope to hear your thoughts.

Thanks Dude,


I'm too new here at EE. I haven't read about giving "Assist" points. I knew you'd already accepted an answer when I submitted mine. I'm not worried about them, so you don't need worry.

Unfortunately, Windows' System Information utility (START, Accessories, System Tools) only tells you which "core" is installed (Family 6, Model 8, Stepping 3 is PIII Coppermine) and in Win2K/XP the internal clock speed ~800MHz. Some BIOS will briefly display "Intel Pentium III 800E or EB" on the first POST screen when you power up your computer (after video but before memory test). Or if you go into your BIOS Setup, one page might show current PCI Clock of 100 or 133 MHz. The terms "External Clock (PCI)", "PCI Clock/Bus", "System Bus", "Front Side Bus (FSB)" all mean the same thing. Those tips will reveal correct info about your CPU assuming the HP BIOS is correctly identifying it and it is not being overclocked.

If neither screen is available, you can download and run Intel's Processor Frequency ID Utility: http://support.intel.com/support/processors/tools/frequencyid/

Sounds like you've already made the most important upgrade moves with new Maxtor and memory. Yes, if you aren't already comfortable with flashing BIOS I wouldn't risk messing up a solid, stable system. A new CPU may yield a 10-20% "real world" performance increase, but may not be worth the $$ unless you are editing video/audio/graphic arts. If you're not, take TERAGEEK's advice and save for a new system. Like perhaps Athlon XP Barton or P4 Northwood, a pair of 512MB DDR400 and Western Digital Raptor Serial ATA drives in RAID.  :)

If your PIII 800 is already running 133MHz FSB, the "EB" is a good processor. You likely won't "feel" any CPU performance increase unless you jump to a Tualatin adapter and can afford to experiment with the PIII 1.20GHz/256K or PIII 1.4GHz/512K ($80-$200 at www.EWIZ.COM or www.ZIPZOOMFLY.COM). Remember, if you buy OEM CPUs you need to buy a CPU fan separately and they only have stores warranty.

If you have a PIII 800E running 100MHz FSB, then along with the Tualatin adapter it would be cheap to try the retail box Celeron 1.3GHz FC-PGA2 Tualatin like www.NEWEGG.COM sells for $40; includes CPU fan. instructions and 3-year Intel warranty. www.EWIZ.COM has the 1.4GHz in an OEM version and has CPU fans available. Even if the HP BIOS didn't like it you could turn around and resell the combo for nearly what you paid.

Sorry, I wish I knew whether there has been specific success with the VL400-series and the Tualatin/adapter combos. Also, there are some weird things with HP setups regarding fan hardware monitoring that might prohibit you from disconnecting your stock HP fan unless it uses a standard 3-pin motherboard connector like the replacement would use. You might post the questions at the HP Discussion Forum for VL400. You'd need to be more specifica about your VL400 model; whether it's desktop, mini-tower or SFF.


Basically, the Lin-Lin it is an $8.00 adapter socket about ¼" thick that fits between your current Coppermine core Socket 370 and your CPU allowing you to try the new Tualatin core FC-PGA2 processors.

Lin-Lin Adapter Settings. Thanks to onelegdis for the following Lin Lin jumper information:
• No Jumpers a1 through b3 :: 1.30V
• a8-a9 :: 1.35V
• a2-a3 :: 1.40V
• a2-a3 a8-a9 :: 1.45V
• a5-a6 :: 1.50V
• a5-a6 a8-a9 :: 1.55V
• a2-a3 a5-a6 :: 1.60V
• a2-a3 a5-a6 a8-a9 :: 1.65V
• b2-b3 :: 1.70V
• a8-a9 b2-b3 :: 1.75V
• a2-a3 b2-b3 :: 1.80V
• a2-a3 a8-a9 b2-b3 :: 1.85V
• a4-a5 b2-b3 :: 1.90V
• a8-a9 b2-b3 :: 1.95V
• a2-a3 a5-a6 b2-b3 :: 2.00V
• a2-a3 a5-a6 a8-a9 b2-b3 :: 2.05V
• b5-b6 b8-b9 :: 66MHz
• b8-b9 :: 100MHz
• No Jumpers b4 through b9 :: 133MHz
alanhllAuthor Commented:
I wish U much good Karma, invisible friend. I will make some of those interesting investigations you have outlined. But given the fairly daunting (though not overwhelming) complexity of it, & expense, measured against the modest-ish benefits, the most likely thing I'll be doing is waiting till RAM gets even cheaper and going for the full 512Mb quota. The jump up from 128 made a big difference.

This PC has a nice quality solid feeling about it, which I like. I bought it at a swap meet for AUS$290. Bit of a shame it's not readily upgradeable - I thought PC's were all much of a muchness inj this respect, proprietary stuff only for Macs. Oh well. We live and learn. I still like it & think it was a fair sort of buy.


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