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EMachines EL1200 motherboard blunder

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July 18, 2010 7:53:45 PM

I've had this computer for over a year and since it is a slow little dog (single core Athlon 2650e) I've moved it on to the kid's desk. But I want them to be able to play some games and enjoy the computer a little more than they do now. I purchased a dual core processor (4450B), put that in, AWESOME difference. The computer is nice and responsive and with 3GB of RAM wants for nothing until you get to the games and the graphics. 6150SE is nothing worth keeping, so I'd like to add a video card. There isn't much in the PCI Express x1 category and the ones that are there are $60+ and only slow cards like the 8400GS. That doesn't do it for me.

Here's the thing. There is a pinout for an x16 slot on this board. If you then go look at an Acer X1200 or AX1200 you'll see it's the SAME MOTHERBOARD but there is an x16 slot and it has an 8200 graphics on-board instead of 6150SE.

It's my birthday and I'm entitled to ask stupid questions today so here it is:

Is there any reason I can't just solder an x16 slot into that pinout and have it work?

If that won't work, I might spend the $55 to pick up an X1200 motherboard, drop in my 4450B processor and 3GB of memory, then get a low-profile x16 card and go with that. I would still have the EL1200 board and could attempt the soldering job and see if it'll run later. These EL1200 boxes sell cheap used ($75-$125) and even cheaper with dead motherboards (one for $40 on my local CL).

These small form factor computers are really annoying when it comes to upgrades. I'm glad I only spent $215 on this one back in the day!
a c 435 V Motherboard
July 18, 2010 8:33:09 PM

No. You can't solder an x16 bracket over the pinout. You could end up with a dead board. I would leave your system alone until either the board or power supply fails. Then you can put any micro atx board in that you like, and purchase a new windows operating system to go with it. Your current windows is tied to the emachines board.
July 18, 2010 8:35:53 PM

I am adding a reply to show what I'm talking about. On the EL1200 motherboard there is no HDMI port and there is no x16 slot, but the pinout is there. Look next to the x1 slot (white).



And on the Acer AX1200 motherboard it has the extra capacitor back by the HDMI port and it has a black x16 slot next to the white x1 slot. Otherwise these boards are darn near identical and there should be no reason it won't run in my computer.



So basically I just want to know if soldering in an x16 slot would work on the EL1200 board. I bet a soldering iron and a plastic slot costs a lot less than a $55 motherboard.
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July 18, 2010 8:50:14 PM

o1die said:
No. You can't solder an x16 bracket over the pinout. You could end up with a dead board. I would leave your system alone until either the board or power supply fails. Then you can put any micro atx board in that you like, and purchase a new windows operating system to go with it. Your current windows is tied to the emachines board.


You replied while I was uploading photos, hence why my last reply seems to ignore you. You're probably posting again right now. Anyway...it's my birthday...so let the stupid questions continue!

First, I don't care about losing a license to XP Home. The only reason I'm still running it is because I hadn't swapped the processor yet. Now that I have, I intend to pick up another OEM copy of 7HP-64. I already did that for my wife's computer, it was a pain and it took several hours but it was well worth it.

So, if a company makes two motherboards and they just don't put a bracket over a set of pins on the one board, it can't be done? So we can cut a hole on the x1 slot and use an x16 card at low bandwidth, and we can change out stuff that fits into brackets, but we can't ever change a bracket? It's never been done? No one has ever tried it? I'm feeling like a pioneer then. I'll feel like I did when I took the driver's seat out of an old taxi and found there was a harness for a power seat under there and I was able to put in a power seat, plug and play. Or the time I put a radio in a truck that didnt' have one when new. Gosh, I had to remove this piece of plastic, and find the radio plugs on the wiring harness, and then put it together. Awe-inspiring stuff, that.

Hrmmm...I think what I'll do is buy an AX1200 motherboard and go ahead and run it like that. The 4450B will work fine in there, my RAM will work fine, the 8200 graphics will work in Hybrid SLI with maybe an 8500GT or 8600GS or something, and then I'll have an HDMI port as well. It'll be a good excuse to upgrade to 7 after assembly and testing.
a c 435 V Motherboard
July 18, 2010 10:48:35 PM

If you can get the acer board at a good price, then go for it. But since you're going to end up reinstalling windows from scratch, I would go for an asus or msi board with a newer chipset. Newegg has the asus M4785-M hdmi board for $69.99 shipped with alot more features than the acer board. It works with 667,800, or 1066 ddr2 if your system uses one of those speeds.
July 18, 2010 11:32:45 PM

That microATX board you suggested (which is M4*A*785-M) would be great but the ports don't match up on the backside. It's too long across the side where the ports are, basically if I tried to put this in my case I would have to saw off the PCI slots and SATA headers.

And the Boxer 61 isn't a mini-ITX board either. Very proprietary or something. At least the Acer models use the same size. They claim it IS microATX but it sure doesn't look like one to me. I don't know for certain, but just by looking at the ports on that ASUS board, it's not going to work. Look at the picture on NewEgg. Even the main power connector would end up where the hard drive sits. 4 memory slots? I'd be lucky to be able to use two of them the way this case is set up. It'd be nice if it'd work but there's no way.

Looking at NewEgg even the Jetway and ASRock boards don't look like they'd fit in this case and match up to the ports and still be able to plug in the 24-pin connector and everything else.

I think I'm stuck with the Acer boards then. Which isn't all that bad. The AX1200 is pretty simple but still has 8200 graphics and HDMI, which is an improvement over VGA only and 6150SE. Then there's the AX1300 which ran various Athlon X2 (7450) and Phenom X4 (9650) processors. They used the same chassis for Intel chips in the AX1700 (CDC, PDC, C2D) and AX1800 (C2D/C2Q) models. I'm not sure I'd want that because my investment in the 4450B and memory and all would be null. Then there's the real screamers, the AX3200s (Athlon X2, Phenom X3-X4). I think the current models are the AX3300 (Athlon II X4 620) and the AX3900 (Core i3-530).

I could definitely go for the AX1300 with a Phenom X4 of some sort. As long as the ports match up and it doesn't overtax the 220W PSU, I'm good.
a b V Motherboard
July 18, 2010 11:36:50 PM

Buy a real computer and MOVE ON... 220W power supply... why do you even write?
July 19, 2010 1:21:17 AM

I don't think it will work. Although the hardware might be there, I would think that either the bios or some chipset firmware is not prepared to handle a x16 PCIe slot. You might get it to work eventually if you can find a way to for instance flash the x1200 bios on the
EL1200 board, if this it at all possible but I wouldn't recommend it.

I gather from your question that you don't already have a soldering iron, and therefore I assume you don't have a lot of soldering experience. I can tell you that if you have not tried this before you will most likely brick your board. I gave a few electronics courses to my fellow electrical engineering students and I ended up repairing almost half of the hardware they made. This being electrical engineering students who have had to solder several times before.

However, it owuld be a nive experiment, so if you are not affraid to wreck this board, i would recommend you first try to flash an x1200
bios on your board. If this works there is a chance the x16 slot might be recognized of soldered on. Next solder the slot, here are a few tips:

Cleaning out the holes:
-First add a little bit of tin to each solder pad, this renews the flux in the tin and makes it
easier to remove.
-second, get a piece of litz wire (bare copper woven wire that acts as a tin spunge) and/or a
desolder pump to remove the tin.

Soldering the slot:
- make sure all the socket pins are pre-tinned, this will ease soldering process.
- hold the socket in its place and solder 2-3 pins to the board. This does not have to be very neat,
this step just makes sure the slot is fixed to the board to make the soldeirng of the other pins easier.
- next solder all the other pins and be carefull not to heat up each pin to long.
- finally redo the 2-3 pins you used to fixate the slot, in case they were not neatly done.

As for the soldering technique. There are several good soldering tutorials on youtube, you should watch them before
attemting this. Also don't use a soldering iron at a temperature above 340 oC The hotter your iron the easier the soldering
becomes, however components and copper lanes will fry more easily and quicker.

As for Marcellis22's comment. I'd say its a little immature but he has a point. If you want to throw in a big graphics
card, a 220watt power supply will most likely not cut it. Also the case might not be able to handle the heat!

Hope this helps, good luck!
July 19, 2010 3:43:34 AM

marcellis22 said:
Buy a real computer and MOVE ON... 220W power supply... why do you even write?


I have budgeted $150 to make upgrades to the kid's computer so that in six months I do not have to spend $300-$400 to replace it when they are unable to do much of anything. I have spent $25 on the 4450B CPU which made a large difference and that leaves $125 for something to improve the graphics. The Passmark score for a 6150SE chipset is 55. My laptop has Intel HD graphics and that scores 328. The only new PCI-e x1 card that comes even CLOSE to that is an ATI HD4350 and it's 100 points behind at 228. I'm looking for CHEAP solutions, not just tossing another computer in a landfill and spending more money I don't have.

A $60 motherboard and a $60 video card would be fine by me. $60 in PCI-e x16 low profile gets me up to an HD4650 (score 459). That would be ideal *IF* I can get a motherboard that will take the card.

You want to buy them a new computer, let's see you toss your wallet on the table...otherwise maybe this thread isn't for you...not everyone in the world has thousands of dollars to spend on computer equipment. That doesn't mean we can't post about what we CAN afford on the internet

TomVocke said:
I don't think it will work. Although the hardware might be there, I would think that either the bios or some chipset firmware is not prepared to handle a x16 PCIe slot. You might get it to work eventually if you can find a way to for instance flash the x1200 bios on the
EL1200 board, if this it at all possible but I wouldn't recommend it.

I gather from your question that you don't already have a soldering iron, and therefore I assume you don't have a lot of soldering experience. I can tell you that if you have not tried this before you will most likely brick your board. I gave a few electronics courses to my fellow electrical engineering students and I ended up repairing almost half of the hardware they made. This being electrical engineering students who have had to solder several times before.

However, it would be a nice experiment, so if you are not affraid to wreck this board, i would recommend you first try to flash an x1200
bios on your board. If this works there is a chance the x16 slot might be recognized of soldered on. Next solder the slot, here are a few tips:

As for Marcellis22's comment. I'd say its a little immature but he has a point. If you want to throw in a big graphics
card, a 220watt power supply will most likely not cut it. Also the case might not be able to handle the heat!

Hope this helps, good luck!


Tom, I have a friend with another small form factor computer, a Dell GX280 with a Pentium D and a low profile HD4650 like the one I mentioned above for $60 and it ran pretty decent. The fan noise wasn't much, and IIRC the highest he had seen temps was in the low 60s. Best of all, Windows Experience Index for the 3D Graphics was 5.0. When I test ran Vista Home Basic on my EL1200 with the 6150SE and the single core CPU I got 2.1 for 3D graphics and 2.2 towards Aero. I would have no problem with that. If I must casemod a couple of fans on the side panel I'll do it since I have some fans and I have a good drill. Going from 2.1 to 5.0 when my poor laptop only pulls a 3.2 and performs like it does sounds very worth it.

You're absolutely right about my abilities on soldering. My portfolio is limited to creating a switch that could light up a single green LED on a six-inch breadboard.

At a mandatory fourth grade math/science camp.

In 1987.

I haven't touched one since. I'm a car guy, not an electrician. If my car is having issues, I fix them. If it's electronic in nature, I take it to a mechanic who knows that brand. Since I own a car that's older than the Apple I, I don't need much electronic work done. But if I needed something soldered like the voltage regulator on my instrument cluster, I take it to a friend of mine (not the GX280 guy) who solders as often as I smoke cigarettes. And my ashtray's FULL! When this friend needs his car worked on he calls me over, and when I need an expensive bit of some kind changed on the TV, I call him over.

So I think instead of trying to make the EL1200's board into the AX1200, I'll just put in the AX1200 board and keep the EL1200 board in a static bag in case I blow up the better board. That way at least the kids will HAVE a computer even if it's not as much fun as the AX1200 should make it.

Then again I should probably be looking at an nVidia card because of the Hybrid SLI deal. Will the 8200 chipset work well with say, a 9500GT? That's a $55 card. A 9600GT would be $100 and would probably overtax the power supply. A lot of HP Slimline users run the 9500GT because it works well with small power supplies. The AX1200 board, the 4450B processor, and XFX's 9500GT low profile card ought to be a screamer compared to what it has now. Passmark of 358 on the 9500GT, it's not as good as the HD4650 but it might get boosted by the 8200 on-board. It might get close to 450-ish? Who knows...
July 27, 2010 3:02:27 PM

I never really spent a lot of time on this thing after doing the CPU swap.

It's fast enough for them. Farmville is faster on here with the 4450e CPU and 6150SE graphics than on my T4300 with Intel HD graphics. I'm impressed. And AVG was running a scan concurrently while I was playing.

I don't think I'm going to spend any of that money on this thing. It's faster than I thought it was. No 9500GT needed. I'm now jealous of my kids having a faster computer than me. But it's ok. Laptops aren't easy to upgrade and I took mine about as far as it can go (chipset kinda limited the performance) so I'll take that money from the computer budget and apply it towards an engine for my car instead. Gets me that much closer to actually pulling out the wrenches and getting it done.

Thanks for the feedback, everyone, especially TomVocke and O1die.
November 16, 2010 5:59:10 PM

I bought Acer X3300 at early this year and yesterday i changed case (for NZXT Lexa white/ black) and power supply (for Corsair TX 650). I Plugged all stuff from AX3300 in new case exept old GPU card. BUT I HAVE PROBLEM pc wont start and i dunno where to put Power SW, Reset SW, HDD led. Cuz i dun have mobo manual. So is there anyone who could help me!? :( 


- Patrick Shibly
November 30, 2011 3:34:31 PM

marcellis22 said:
Buy a real computer and MOVE ON... 220W power supply... why do you even write?


I don't see a problem with him building and modifying stuff out of used parts and computers... and I'm assuming if he moved this computer to the kids desk that he did just buy a "real computer". The idea that he is putting this much time and effort into making sure his children have something decent is more than a lot of people do.
Yes the 220W power supply is horribly obsolete but have you actually looked into one of these cases? I doubt they can crank out much more power without increasing the size. My guess is that the x16 PCIE slot wasn't originally installed because there wouldn't be very many x16 cards that can function on 220W. It's just a guess though. I'm pretty sure it was omitted for a reason other than to save a few pennies. Plastic is cheap. I wouldn't recommend any soldering.
Marcellis, Your comment did absolutely nothing helpful for anyone, not even for yourself. Perhaps he should be the one asking you "why do you even write"?
!