Mobo upgrade questions

Hi, I just joined the Tom's Hardware forums. I'm researching mobo upgrade options for my old PC.

My current PC is an HP Pavilion XG833. Based on research I've done, it has an ASUS CUW-AM microATX motherboard.

The specs for this motherboard can be found on HP's website here:

I've added the following upgrades: 320 watt PSU, ATI Radeon 9250 64-bit 128MB PCI video card, SoundBlaster Live! 5.1 PCI sound card, and 256MB additional RAM (320MB RAM total).

This setup has served me well for nearly 8 years. But I'm finally hitting the wall with the Celeron 766Mhz CPU and 66Mhz bus on the ASUS board. So I'm looking into replacing the mobo/cpu/ram, but using all my other existing components.

I've done some research, and Tiger Direct has a mobo/cpu combo that looks good to me.

It's the Biostar GeForce 6100-M9 NVIDIA Socket 939 microATX motherboard with an AMD Sempron 3000+ 1.80Ghz. Info on this board can be found here

I can get the Biostar mobo, Sempron CPU and 512MB dual-channel DDR 400Mhz RAM for about $160 from Tiger Direct. Definitely low-end by today's standards, but still a *major* improvement over what I have now.

I've measured my case, and the Biostar mobo will fit in my existing HP Pavilion case. Also I've compared photos of the ASUS and Biostar mobo's and the screwholes appears to line up okay. So I'm fairly sure the Biostar board will fit the existing HP Pavilion case.

I have the following questions:

(1) How do I determine if my current PSU will work with the Biostar mobo? How do I verify my current PSU has the right connectors for the Biostar board?

(2) Will my current IDE hard drive and CD writer work with the Biostar mobo? The old ASUS board has UltraDMA33/66 IDE, and the newer Biostar board has UltraDMA133 IDE. I assume the Biostar mobo will slow down for my older HDD and CD-Writer. Is this correct?

(3) I'm still using Windows 98SE, and I'd rather not have the added expense of an XP upgrade at this time. So how do I determine if Biostar has Windows 98 drivers for this mobo?

(4) My current video card is a 64-bit 128MB PCI Radeon 9250. Since it's PCI I assume it will work with the Biostar mobo. But which video is better? My Radeon 9250 or the builtin nVidia geForce 6100/410? I know neither of these are particularly good by today's standards, but which one is overall better?

(5) My current sound card is a PCI SoundBlaster Live! 5.1. Same question as the video, Which is better? My existing SoundBlaster card? or the builtin sound of the BioStar mobo?

(6) The Biostar mobo supports up to the Athlon 64 X2 CPU with 1000Mhz FSB. It also supports SATA. So I was thinking that I could start with a Sempron, then upgrade the CPU as needed later. Also I would upgrade to a SATA hard drive when my budget allows. Is this accurate? Can I add upgrades to the Biostar at a later date?

(7) Getting back to the OS, since the Biostar mobo supports CPU's up to Athlon 64 X2, 4 GB RAM, PCI-Express x16 video card, and SATA drives, I could upgrade this to run Windows XP or Vista in the future, right?

My family and I use our PC for Internet, email, MS Office, schoolwork, and low-end gaming. I'd love to buy a whole new prebuilt system, or custom-build a new system. But one income, a wife, three kids, a 1st/2nd mortgage and 2 car payments kind of restricts my PC budget, if you know what I mean

So any help or feedback will be appreciated.


6 answers Last reply
More about mobo upgrade questions
  1. That link doesn't work. But I'd suggest getting the Athlon 3200+ for $53 over a Sempron.
    CPU: $53
    Board: $50
    RAM: $50

    1) Check the board's website. Your PSU will either have a 20 pin or 24 pin main MB connector, and may also have a 4 pin secondary connector.

    2) Yes.

    3) Board's website

    4) Probably the Radeon, but you could just plug it in and run a game or something to find out.

    5) Soundblaster

    6) Yes, see top suggestion

    7) Yes
  2. Jeff,

    Thanks for the response. Also thanks for the suggestion to step up to the Athlon.

    After posting this I thought to check Biostar's support website for drivers (duhh.. :D)

    Anyway here is the link to the drivers for the GeForce 6100-M9 mobo

    The "Chipset Driver" and "Onboard VGA Driver" only list Win 2000/XP. No Win9x drivers for the Chipset or Onboard VGA.

    However, there are Win9x drivers for the "On-board Audio" and "USB 2.0 Controller".

    So if I'm reading this correctly, the GeForce 6100-M9 mobo will NOT work with Windows 98 SE, right?

    Or does the lack of Chipset and Onboard VGA drivers mean that the board will work with Win9x, but Win9x won't recognize all the functionality of the mobo (e.g. nVidia 6100 video, PCI-E x16, etc)?

    If I can get the board to work under Win 98SE using my Radeon 9250 and SoundBlaster (both of them work perfectly under Win98), then that is fine with me. As long as I can use what I have on Win98SE and get a newer, faster mobo/cpu/ram, then that would be great!! I could always upgrade to XP when I have more money for upgrades.

    And later on I could upgrade the CPU to Athlon 64X2, upgrade the RAM, upgrade the HDD to SATA, and go to Vista when Microsoft works out the kinks. Right?

    I know over time doing the piece-meal upgrade approach probably costs more overall. But I can afford incremental upgrades in small doses, but I can't afford large upgrades all at once. And the incremental upgrades do give benefits in the meantime.

    I mean people were telling me to throw out my Celeron and get a whole new PC over six years ago. But it has met my needs all this time.

    So I think if this Biostar GeForce 6100-M9 will work with Win98SE, then it's a good incremental upgrade that has room for growth. Do you agree?


  3. You could also do something like this from Newegg:

    ECS Motherboard

    512MB DDR2 RAM

    Sempron 3200

    The RAM is only one chip so no dual channel, but dual channel isn't necessary for the system to work and the performance loss isn't that big and since I threw in a Sempron 3200, it's a little faster than the 3000 you noted so it would make up for any difference. Either way it would be lightyears ahead of what you're using now. It's a bit newer tech allowing for a better upgrade path. It's also cheaper than the TigerDirect combo. Most people prefer Newegg to TigerDirect any day, including me. That combo above is also about $10 cheaper.

    The onboard video will most certainly be faster than a PCI 9250, but Win98SE could be your Achilles heal here. Support for it on a lot of stuff is going to be rough. You should upgrade your OS to at least XP. If money is a problem, then might I suggest a flavor of Linux and then run VMWare with a virtual copy of Win98SE for your must have Windows 98SE apps. The guys down in the Linux forum can be very helpful.
  4. Anoobis,

    Thanks for the info on the mobo on NewEgg. I think I'll stick with the Biostar because it has 4 memory slot while the ECS mobo only has 2 memroy slots.

    But I have a question about the PSU. My current PSU and mobo has a 20-pin plug. Most of the newer mobo's I've seen have 24-pin plugs. So does that mean my current PSU won't work with a newer mobo?

  5. Some new motherboards will work with a 20 pin power plug. My current board does. It said in the manual which pins to leave open.

    Looking at the biostar manual it doesn't specify if it will work or not. It does say that the motherboard does not support windows 98 or ME. So if you really wanted that motherboard it is probably best to upgrade to XP.

    The newer processor may require quite a bit more power than your old one. Make sure your current power supply can provide enough power for your new system.
  6. I can understand your concern for more memory slots but it is a bit of a moot point. You've held out this long with 256MB. I'm willing to bet that the highest you'll go with this upgrade is 1GB in the near future, and 2GB in the far future. Both of which can easily (and economically) be accomplished using only a pair of modules instead of a set of four. In fact, if you go with 4 slots you will most likely run into issues upgrading to 1GB as 256MB DDR2 modules are few and far between. The smallest is usually 512MB modules.

    Trust me, 2 slots should suit your needs just fine. It's been noted that Vista runs very well on 2GB for the average user. XP runs extremely well on 2GB, even if you're a gamer. I strongly advise you upgrade to Windows XP. It is a strong OS and will be supported for quite some time, unlike Win98SE and Win2000.

    There is also a much higher probability that the DDR2 RAM you get with the setup I suggested will be compatible with the system you upgrade to after this one. The DDR will not.
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