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Advice needed on CPU/Bios/Mobo upgrades for old PC

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September 22, 2004 4:12:37 PM

I'm trying to breath a little life into a friends old PC as he can't afford to buy a new one right now. It is an old Gateway G6-233 (yep, a 233MHz P2) w/either 32 or 64MB PC66 RAM. He's only using it for surfing the web, emailing, and MS Office all for a job hunt. I have two 128MB DIMMs of PC100/133 but the PC won't recognize it. I just got on Gateway's support site and it says I have an Intel P2 mobo part #4000286, and there is an available BIOS upgrade. Current BIOS are Phoenix 4.0 Release 6, the newer one is a point revision of the current.
My QUESTIONS are as follows:
1. Would a simple BIOS upgrade allow the Mobo to recognize/use the memory I have available? If so, is there a good alternative site for more recent BIOS upgrades besides Gateway's site?
2. If the BIOS flash is possible and should work, what is the best CPU that this mobo can handle? Sources that I've found on the web say "up to P2 333", but I think that's the official company line and I'm wondering if it's inacurrate.
3. If there is no hope in the above solution, what is my best bet for low cost mobo/cpu replacement that accepts PC100/133 RAM? I'm talking very small budget here, so I'm not expecting a lot.
THANK YOU IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR HELP!!!

<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by gowens on 09/22/04 12:54 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
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September 23, 2004 12:57:07 AM

There's a post at the top of the memory forum that tells you the most likely problem. And you didn't even tell us the model of the board. I'll help you out a bit:

1.) Start the computer and push the PAUSE key when the POST screen shows.
2.) Read the code at the top.

I'm going to take a wild guess that it will start out "4A4L" with a bunch of numbers after that. That would be the AL440LX.

Now, the memory on LX chipsets (as well as BX/ZX/EX/TX) is limited in density. 16MB per chip, which means a 4-chip module can only be read at 64MB or below, an 8-chip module can only be read at 128MB or below, and a 16-chip module (8 chips per side on 2 sides) can be read at 256MB or below.

BIOS updates won't help with a memory density limit. But they could HURT compatability with processor upgrades. You see, certain BIOS versions will support a Socket 370 Celeron 700 if you put them on a voltage-adjustable Slot-1 adapter and set the voltage to 1.80v. But Intel decided to put a stop message in newer BIOS versions.

The board "officially" supports up to a PII 333, but will support ANY Slot-1 Celeron (I think those went up to 400MHz), Mendicino core Socket 370 celerons on a standard adapter (all Celerons up to 500 and some 533's), and Coppermine Celerons with 66MHz bus on a voltage adjustable adapter (as explained previously).

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September 23, 2004 4:09:32 AM

Thank you for the reply. I'll check & Let you know.
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September 23, 2004 4:15:30 AM

by the way, you are right with your first guess, the chipset is AL440LX. i'm trying to get the other stuff for you. So just out of curiousity, can a bios upgrade allow for other memory speeds to be used? E.g. the board only supports PC66 but through a BIOS flash could use PC100/133...though it would throttle them down to 66MHz?
September 23, 2004 4:21:05 AM

okay, i'm not positive what the current digits are, but I'm pretty sure they are: 4A4LL0X0.15A.0011.P08

The "current supported BIOS" according to Gateway's webiste are: 4A4LL0X0.15A.0023.P18

Does that help? That's all I could find b/c I'm not in front of the PC and won't be for another 24-48 hours.
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September 23, 2004 4:42:28 AM

The chipset is 440LX. The model of board is Intel AL440LX. You can use either Gateway OR Intel BIOS for it, but I'm fairly certain that revision P18 will eliminate the board's capability to boot with Coppermine core CPU's installed.

The thing should work fine with PC100 or PC133 without any BIOS update. I think you've found some modules that aren't working correctly with the board itself, it could be a density issue. I've never had to update BIOS to instal PC100 or PC133 on any of these boards, so long as I used RAM that was compatable with the common BX/ZX/LX/EX/TX chipsets.

For a couple years now, cheap RAM hasn't been compatable with these chipsets. That's because high density RAM is cheaper to produce and they don't care about compatability.

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September 23, 2004 3:45:41 PM

The RAM is Kingston and the other is IBM. I think tha tI also have a Siemens DIMM but none will work. You think it's just a really picky mobo and won't even give non-PC66 RAM the time-o-day?
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September 23, 2004 4:42:22 PM

I've built a few dozen of those system and used PC100 or PC133 in at least half of them. The specifications are the same between PC66/100/133 except for the maximum supported speed.

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