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Updating processor and memory on a Gateway Solo 9100

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March 3, 2012 2:54:26 PM

Hello Tom's community,

I am in the process of updating a very old Gateway Solo 9100 for a Linux distro. Now, I am a complete noob at this, so please - go easy on me. This is the first laptop that I have ever disassembled without a guide!

From the research I did, I found that the Solo 9100 uses an Intel 440BX motherboard, and it had a Pentium II processor with an MMC-1 configuration. Further research revealed that the highest processor speed I could get was 466 MHz (I have a 66 MHz FSB) on MMC-1. The original processor was a 266 MHz 66 MHz FSB. Now the 466 MHz is extremely rare, so I got a 400 MHz new for real cheap.

So here's where I'm at and I hope you can help me.

1.) I never flashed BIOS, and when I installed the new processor to see if it worked, the startup screen only reports a 300 MHz speed, when it's supposed to be 400 MHz. So I guess I need to "flash the BIOS." How do I do that and what file do I use. My BIOS version on there now is 8.43 Phoenix, and Gateway just goes to 8.47.
http://support.gateway.com/support/drivers/getFile.asp?...

2.) Do I need to put the old processor back in in order to flash the BIOS or can I leave the new one in there? If I do that's ok, I still have the laptop disassembled.

3.) I have read several posts about "overclocking." What is that exactly, and can it be done with this motherboard? If so how can I do it? Does it use "jumpers" or is this in software? One of my friends said that the 440 BX can handle 1 GHz speeds (???).

4.) Assuming that the processor issue works out and I get the 400 MHz speeds (or higher depending on what you all say), the next issue is memory. Now, Gateway says that the maximum RAM the system can handle is 384 MB (so 128 MB per slot since the board has 3), but I've read elsewhere that 256 MB or higher can be used in these slots. So, how can this be done? Is this related to overclocking?

Thanks!
VV5

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a b à CPUs
March 4, 2012 3:22:22 AM

1. Flashing a BIOS is easy, but one must take care when doing it. All you simply must do is find the BIOS file for download (If gateway doesn't have it, you'll have to google for it) and put it either on a bootable CD or Floppy. Then when you boot the computer, you'll change the boot order so that the media disk that the BIOS is on will boot first. Follow the instructions on the screen.

2. Probably not, but better safe than sorry. I would do that with the original processor first.

3. Overclocking is the act of making something go faster than its supposed to. So you are overclocking if you make the 400 Mhz processor run at 415 Mhz, or 401 Mhz, or 9000+ Ghz. Overclocking that laptop is probably not possible, nor advisable as when you overclock, you use more power and it generates heat. Laptops can only dissipate so much heat, and the power supply can only put out so much power to the laptop.

4. I would just go with what Gateway says. It has nothing to do with overclocking (unless you force the ram to go faster, but again that probably isn't possible on that laptop). One possibility is that you can stick a 512 MB stick in the laptop. It'll boot up, but only be able to use 384 MB of RAM. Personally, unless you can return the RAM after its been opened, I would just grab three sticks of 128 MB RAM.

Lastly, there is no guarantee that a BIOS flash will let your processor perform at its best. If not, you'll just have to take it as it is. Nice job on your research, by the way. And even nicer that you are doing what you are doing to that old laptop. I've upgraded a old desktop in 2010 that was built in 1999. Still usable and still viable as a small server!
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March 4, 2012 11:19:47 PM

Phyco,

Thanks for the feedback - much appreciated! Again I'm by no means an expert, but the original problem with the laptop was that it just needed a new hard drive (and that was before I really got the "bug" to look at computers more in depth). So, since it's so out of date, a lot of people (including me until recently) just thought the thing should just go by the way of the e-waste heap. But I did some research and figured it could be turned into a Linux machine to be given a second shot.

So I decided if there was anything I could do to speed it up, and of course, did some research.

But again, thanks for all of the heads up! I'll post issues on here as they come forward, but I hope there aren't many :sarcastic: 

Thanks!
VV5
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March 4, 2012 11:20:05 PM

Best answer selected by victorvictor5.
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a b à CPUs
March 5, 2012 12:13:58 AM

Glad I could help!
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a b à CPUs
March 5, 2012 7:51:55 AM

This topic has been closed by Maziar
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