How to upgrade your processor in an hour for less than £100

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The Big Easy (Upgrade)

<< Continued from previous page

Tutorial steps:

1. PowerLeap slocket adapter showing, top left, blue CPU voltage jumpers (at default 1.55V setting - NOT correct for the Celeron 1.4GHz); top, CPU locking arm partly raised; centre, CPU socket corners with no pins; bottom left, power input (connects to standard hard disk power lead using supplied splitter); bottom right, pink CPU front-side bus speed jumpers set at default (auto-detect)

2. This end of the slocket adapter plugs into the BX motherboard's CPU slot

3. The label at the top of the 1.4GHz Celeron processor reveals its speed (1400MHz); secondary cache size (256KByte); front-side bus speed (100MHz); and core voltage (1.5V)

4. The underside of the Celeron showing that two adjacent corners have no pins. The processor must be fitted into its socket with these corners positioned near the locking arm


5. Once the processor has been correctly fitted into its socket, and locked in place with the retaining arm, it's time to fit the heat-sink and cooling fan assembly onto the two plastic lugs on either side of the socket. First attach the retaining clip for this assembly on the lug on the right, and only then attach to the one on the left

6/7. Cooling assembly secured in place. Note that the blue voltage jumpers are still not correctly set, that the main power input (bottom left) has not yet been connected, and that the fan power lead (bottom right) must be connected to a power point on the motherboard once the slocket adapter has been installed into the motherboard

8. The Belarc Advisor utility makes it easy to check the hardware and OS in a Windows PC without opening the case. It also reports lots of useful info about the general set up

9. WCPUID utility reporting on the capabilities of the installed Celeron 1.4GHz process and showing that, superficially at least, all is well

10. Roxio's Easy CD and DVD Creator was one of a number of DVD and CD creation programs that worked well on the upgraded PC. Pinnacle Studio 8, though, didn't.

> Click here to see a table showing video render timings (sec) before and after the upgrade.

SOFTWARE USED:

Setup and checking
o PowerQuest Partition Magic 8 (to partition boot drive prior to installation of Win XP) and Drive Image 7 (to backup original Win 98 installation), www.powerquest.com
o Canopus RaptorTest - free HDD speed tester (104KByte download), www.canopus.com/US/products/free_utilities/pm_free_utilities.asp
o ATTO Disk Benchmark - free HDD speed tester. Part of ATTO's Windows SCSI Utilities V1.63 - also works with IDE and FireWire drives (959KByte download), www.attotech.com/software/app1.html
o Belarc Advisor - free PC audit program. Good for finding out about components and OS without opening the case (612KByte download), www.belarc.com/free_download.html
o WCPUID - H Oda's free processor information reporting utility (263KByte download), http://hp.vector.co.jp/authors/
VA002374/src/download.html
and www.powerleap.com/Products/ccp.htm

Render timing tests
o Adobe Premiere 6.01 video editing program, www.adobe.com
o Canopus Imaginate still image-panning program, www.canopus.com
o Pinnacle Studio 8 video editing program (V 8.5.18d and V8.5.21), www.pinnaclesys.com
o Sonic Foundry Vegas Video 3c video editing program, www.sonicfoundry.com

After timing testing
o Ulead's DVD Workshop (V1.2) DVD authoring program and VideoStudio 7 video editing program, www.ulead.com
o Roxio Easy CD and DVD Creator 6 Platinum, www.roxio.com

Useful web sites
o Bios upgrades for AOpen motherboards, AOpen, http://english.aopen.com.tw
o Google - for searching the web if you don't know the URL for your motherboard maker, www.google.com
o For web-based reviews of the PowerLeap slocket adapter with useful technical info and tests:
Tom's hardware, http://www6.tomshardware.com/
cpu/20030107/slot_1-01.html

Duh Voodoo Man, http://duhvoodooman.com/
powrleap/PLmain.htm


GET STARTED

Five things to do before upgrading:

1. Decide whether such an upgrade is appropriate. The cost is under £100 but could that be spent more effectively on something else? If you also own a more modern PC with a processor faster than 900MHz, then it might make more sense to put the money towards a huge hard disk for video capture and editing or a DVD burner. If the BX system is your only PC, and you have a bit more money to spare, it might be better to buy a new bare-bones system. All new PCs have far faster components than older PCs including processors, memory, hard disks, and graphics cards. The bangs-per-buck on offer from some of the deals might surprise you. Check out, for instance, the advertisements in the current issue, notably Omni Systems (see the new bit and bobs section, p78, for our take on an Omni PC)

2. If the idea does still appeal - the cost is under £100 after all - then dig out your motherboard manual and check that it is a slot-processor BX model. If it's not, PowerLeap or another maker may have a suitable upgrade

3. Check whether anyone else has successfully used a PowerLeap adapter to upgraded the processor on the same model of motherboard as your own - use the company's searchable database of compatible motherboard makes and models at: www.powerleap.com. The same page also lists compatible PCs from big-name makers - Compaq, Dell, Gateway, Hewlett Packard and IBM
4. If your motherboard is a potential upgrade candidate, and you've decided to go ahead, then check that the required processor and slocket adaptor are available (you might be reading this years after it was written in spring 2003). If they can still be had, download and install the necessary Bios updater from the motherboard maker's web site, and make sure that the PC is working normally afterwards. Search from www.google.com, if you don't know the address of the motherboard maker. Even if the motherboard maker has gone out of business, it might be possible to find a bios updater on an independent web site.

5. Order the components.


RENDER TIMING TESTS

Render timing tests - details:

All tests carried out - before and after processor upgrade - under Windows XP Pro (with DirectX 8.1 and SP1a update) and Windows 98SE (with DirectX 8.1). All relevant updaters applied to both OSs

1. Adobe Premiere 6.01 Pan and Zoom filter applied to a 421KByte JPEG image (2294 x 1536 pixels) of 10 seconds duration. Zooming in from an image size of 900x720 to one of 720x576. Measure time taken to render work area

2. Adobe Premiere 6.01 Reduce Interlace Flicker filter applied to above image after the zoom had rendered. Measure time taken to render work area

3. Adobe Premiere 6.01 Black & White filter applied to above image after Reduce Interlace filter had rendered. Measure time taken to render work area

4. Adobe Premiere 6.01 79-second long PAL DV AVI file with four 1sec 2D transitions at 15sec intervals from start - Barn Doors ; Clock Wipe; Radial Wipe; Venetian Blinds. Measure time taken to render work area

5. Adobe Premiere 6.01 79-second long PAL DV AVI with four 2sec 3D-motion transitions at 15sec intervals from star - Cube Spin; Curtain; Doors; Spin Away. Measure time taken to render work area

6. Adobe Premiere 6.01 Place 10sec Imaginate project file from 7 onto Premiere 6.01 timeline. Measure time taken to render work area

7. Canopus Imaginate (updated with SP1 and Fix 1.01). Zoom into an uncompressed TIF image (5.49MByte; 1600x1200 pixels) - from full image (scale at 0.45) to centre (scale at 1.00) over period of 8 sec, followed by 2sec hold (10 sec in all). Measure time taken to render project to PAL DV AVI

8. Pinnacle Studio 8 Place 2 minute PAL DV AVI on timeline. Measure time to render to DVD-compliant MPEG-2 file (default PAL settings)

9. Sonic Foundry Vegas Video 3c - Event Pan and Crop applied to a 421KByte JPEG image (2294x1536 pixels) of 10 seconds duration.
Zooming in from an image size of 900x720 to one of 720x576. Measure time taken to render to PAL DV AVI
file (equivalent to test 1 carried out
in Premiere)

10. Sonic Foundry Vegas Video 3c - 79-second long PAL DV AVI file with four 1sec 2D transitions at 15sec intervals from start - Barn Door; Clock Wipe; Radial Wipe; Venetian Blinds. Measure time taken to rendered to AVI - 124sec (equivalent to test 4 carried out in Premiere)

11. Sonic Foundry Vegas Video 3c Place 2 minute PAL DV AVI on timeline. Measure time to render to DVD-compliant MPEG-2 file (default PAL settings). Equivalent to test 8 carried out in Studio 8


WHAT NEXT?

Having upgraded the processor, the obvious question was, what next? The PC already had an OHCI FireWire card and was clearly suitable for use with OHCI-compatible editing software, but was it good enough to use as a DVD-creation station?
To find out, we disconnected the installed Scsi CD-RW burner and fitted an NEC ND-1100A DVD+R/+RW burner as the secondary IDE slave to the existing Pioneer DVD-ROM drive. We did this in case the fairly puny 250W power supply in the PC was stressed by having to feed the new CPU, three optical drives, two hard drives and an external FireWire hard drive. Next, we installed Ulead DVD Workshop - then updated it to V1.2. We connected an ADS Pyro 2.5in FireWire Drive Kit into which we'd fitted a 30GByte IBM TravelStar HDD. This drive already contained a variety of video files including a 1.18GByte DVD-compliant MPEG-2 file (21min 17sec duration) that had been created in Vegas Video 3 on an Omni PC.
We brought the file directly into Workshop and created a project with 10 chapter points and a single menu page, but no moving menus or backgrounds - we were running out of time, having wasted days trying to get Pinnacle Studio to behave properly.
We burned the project to DVD+RW - Workshop taking 4m 30sec to prepare everything for burning and a further 8min to burn to disc at the selected top speed of 2.3x. The disc played fine in the NEC drive, in the Pioneer DVD-103 DVD-ROM drive fitted to our upgraded PC and an identical model fitted in another test machine. It also ran okay in a Yelo 800 set-top DVD player. We then created a disc image of the project from within Workshop (5min 20sec) and burned that image to a DVD+RW disc in Workshop (7min 55sec).
We installed Adaptec's new digital media suite Easy CD & DVD Creator 6 (review, next month) and used it to copy the DVD to another DVD+RW disc. This happened in two phases - read, which took 6min 25secs (the existing DVD-ROM drive was only able to read at 2.4x); and write (to NEC), which took 3min 45secs. We then used the Adaptec software to make backups of a couple of CDs and this worked fine, too.
The processor upgrade clearly had been money well spent and would have been even more worthwhile had the processor we started out with been slower - which will be the case
in many of the BX-based systems that readers own.


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