I need help. I have an old Gateway 7000se currently running a P4 2.0 GHz @ 400 MHz on some random mobo with an Intel 850 chipset (8285oE MCH 82801BA ICH2 82802AB 4-Mb FWH whatever that all means). I just upgraded my RAM to 4x256mb Samsung PC800 RDRAM and have a Radeon X1600 Xt Agp 256MB on order. I also just upgraded my HDD.
My question, and let me know if there is something else needed here, what is the fastest P4 I can put in this machine? Some Gateway spec's say that the machine will support up to a 533MHz system data bus, depending on processor. I am assuming that this is referring to the FSB. I am attempting to get a model number and manufacturer from Gateway so I can get some more specs. Their first answer, to a question of what is the fastest processor I can run on your mobo, was that we don't support third party parts, yada yada.
You'll need to find out from Gateway what 533MHz FSB CPUs the system's BIOS will support. One of the problems of buying a prebuilt computer is that the manufacturer often isn't helpful with info about upgrading the system, because they don't make money from that. If you don't get anywhere with Gateway, you may be able to identify the OEM manufacturer of the motherboard and its model number by looking at the MB itself, and pursue your inquiries there. Since modern CPUs costing as little as $60-70 are 4x or more faster than yours, and 4GB of DDR2 RAM can be had for $25, you may want to consider just buying a new MB and RAM and rebuilding your system around that.
The other thing to keep in mind is that a faster P4 CPU will mean more heat generation, so you may have to buy a better CPU cooler as well. Finally, you'll need to make sure that the CPU cooler will physically fit in your system, as prebuilt systems often use non-standard component configurations to save cost.
I received another response from Gateway...it was a link to the support page (which I have already looked through). This includes very basic information, but no part numbers or manufacturer info. Thanks Gateway!
I have been considering replacing the entire mobo and starting again from scratch. I will run the CPU-Z and take another look...a lot of the >3GHz P4's on ebay are going for around $20 and may be overclocked to around 3-3.5Ghz with a little luck. I thought this may have gotten my by until I built another system. But as it has been pointed out, a new mobo, process, ram, and video card just might make more sense.