In the sections that follow, I’ll provide step-by-step instructions on what to buy, what tools you’ll need, and how to perform various upgrades or improvements on an AMD-based MediaSmart Server. Here’s a more detailed description of these tasks, in the order in which they will be completed:
- Replace the 512 MB 240-pin DDR2 Hynix DIMM with a modestly-priced 2 GB module. Total cost should be somewhere between $20 and $30 (I paid $17 for mine).
- Remove the northbridge heatsink and the thermal adhesive HP applies to this device, then lay down a coat of Arctic Silver to improve heat transfer. A stock EX47* northbridge usually runs at 57-59 degrees Celsius (137-139 degrees Fahrenheit). Judicious application of a high-quality thermal compound can bring temps down to 52-55 degrees Celsius (127-131 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Install a replacement CPU in the AM2 socket on the EX47* motherboard. This also involves laying down a coat of Arctic Silver to help things run as cool as possible.
- (Optional): If you want to install a dual-core CPU in the EX47*, you must first patch the BIOS to permit it to recognize such a processor. This is easily accomplished using free tools and BIOS sources via a remote login to the MediaSmart box.
Taking the EX47* apart can be a bit tricky and definitely takes time, while the right tools, patience, and a steady hand are essential. The first time I took mine apart it took me half an hour to get through the whole process (not including the CPU upgrade, which came later). By the seventh and final time I had taken the unit apart for concluding and clean-up photographs for this article, I was able to handle the process in under 15 minutes. A friend or family member who can work with you while you go through the disassembly/test/reassembly process can help to boost your confidence and speed things along.
Check prices for HP's MediaSmart EX475
- Get Your Hack On
- Task List For DIY EX47* Upgrade
- Memory Upgrade
- Benchmarking Standard And Increased Memory Configurations
- Replace Northbridge Thermal Compound
- Replace The Stock CPU
- Benchmarking The EX475 With Sempron 3400+, LE-1640, And BE-2350
- Swapping The Processor, Step-By-Step
- Hacking The EX47* MediaSmart BIOS
- How To Prepare And What To Do If Something Goes Wrong
- Re-assembling And Testing Your MediaSmart Server
- A Little Cash, A Little Elbow Grease, And A Little Time