Replacing old Socket 478 ECS mobo with refurb

January 16, 2010 at 22:02:20
Specs: Windows XP, 2.4GHz Pentium 4 with 533 FSB
I've got a PC (running on Windows XP SP3) built by a friend in late 2003 that I recently upgraded. I had 1 256MB SDRAM stick and I swapped that out for 2 512MB SDRAM sticks. So, I have the maximum RAM allowed for the motherboard, which is an ECS P4VXASD2+ Version 5 (a Socket 478 board), which is run by a 1.70 gigahertz Intel Celeron. It was running hot, which I figured out was due to the power supply overheating because the fans in it weren't working; neither were the case fans. The walls of the case felt hot. Both of the hard drives, a SEAGATE ST3320620A 320GB BARRACUDA ATA100 (set as the main C:) and a Western Digital WD600BB-75CAA0 60.0GB (set as a backup D:), felt hot to the touch, too. I took it to a local PC guru, who directed me to a place to get a new heat sink retention bracket(which was broken), a new fan, and a new power supply. I opted to buy a an A Power 600W SATA ATX Power Supply through an online supplier but go the other parts locally. The PC was working fine, though running hot still. I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of the new power supply. But then something happened that changed everything.

One day, I was working at my desk. I accidentally brushed my toe against the power button on my surge protector, which shut the PC off. The PC wouldn't come back on, though. When the new power supply arrived, I put it in and connected everything as it was supposed to go per the manufacturer's manual. However, nothing happened. So, I scrambled around and found a PC through my church to use at home. I took the mothballed PC out to the same guru this week, and he tested the power supply with a power supply tester. It was low on one reading (can't remember which one). He was able to "jump start" the PC but it wouldn't come on on its own afterward. He suggested I scuttle the thing but said he thought the CPU might be fried. I was able to find a Pentium 4 2.4GHz with 533 bus speed at a local dealer, but when I installed it (again per the manual) still nothing happened. So, that brings me to my dilemma and question.

I could either (a) buy a refurbed ECS Socket 478 motherboard off Ebay and possibly add some RAM, or (b) I could buy a whole new PC, which the guru recommended. I spent a great deal of time this weekend going to Best Buy, reading reviews of PCs on consumer reports, and Googling for ECS mobos. I found a refurbed P4S5A/DX+ V5.1A ( on eBay for about $30. I'm tempted to buy it because I can use the same memory sticks I already have (or buy some DDR333 cards to go up to 2GB RAM). All I really want to make sure of is that I have a PC that runs fast enough to do my work, which is all online (rating tests and teaching). I like to have several things open at once, but that stops up the little 512MB Intel Pentium III machine I'm using. I know getting a new PC is something I will eventually have to due, but I would prefer to save some bucks and limp along with an old, refurbed system than lay out $600+ for a new PC. I just don't know what I'm getting into if I opt for the "limp along" route. I guess I have this Pollyana-ish idea that I would simply have to put it the new motherboard, make a few adjustments, reconnect everything and 'voila' I'd be back in business. But what all would be involved in replacing the motherboard? I was reading an article about it ( and my head starting hurting, because I'm not sure I know what I'd be doing or if I could do the replacement. So, how involved is installing a 'new' motherboard? Are there a lot of technical steps that a lay person can do? What changes would I have to make to get my old "Hop Along Cassidy" PC running again? I would appreciate any input offered. If you know of some good articles, please pass them along to me. Thanks!

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January 16, 2010 at 23:20:41
Your post is difficult to read. A-Power PSUs are low end....what did you pay, $20?

And you keep saying the system is running hot yet you didn't post a single temp reading.

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January 17, 2010 at 07:49:51

likely could use all the hardware, you currently have, but I am not guaranteeing that. You will need an operating system, the Xp install currently on your drive won't boot. There are other choices.


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January 17, 2010 at 08:07:54
You don't necessarily need the same brand motherboard. Below is a link to an online vendor that IMO is better than buying off eBay.

That said, you also evidently have a problem with a least one other component which is the power supply.

How much cash are you willing to spend here? As larry above stated you may have other issues.

I take it you have a full WinXP installation CD then?

Swapping out a motherboard is not that hard but if you have never done any work inside your computer case before it can be a bit scary. There are lots of resources to explain how to swap a motherboard. That said there are lots of things that you can do wrong too.

Then there is the issue of not knowing if other hardware is also defective. For instance, the video card.

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January 27, 2010 at 07:35:12
Thanks for the replies, which I didn't see until today because they went to my Spam folder in my Yahoo email account.

Yes, currently on the hard drive that's in the dormant PC I want to refurb, I have Windows XP. I have the Windows XP CD if I need to do a complete re-install, which I hope is not necessary. I wouldn't mind buying the Samba P4 unit through, but I would need way more RAM than it offers (256MB). I need at least 1GB RAM to do my work quickly. The 512MB RAM machine I work on now tends to get constipated, for lack of a better term. Hence, that was the attraction of getting a replacement motherboard, which arrived in the mail earlier in the week. I've never done a mobo replacement, so I am thinking of taking it to the guy whom I was talking with, who has done numerous such swaps. If all else fails, I plan to buy a laptop with my tax refund, which is coming in soon. I found a Compaq laptop for about $350 that has gotten pretty decent reviews. I've seen some Toshibas for about $430 that have gotten good reviews too. Another option is to buy a low-end Dell for about $280 and soup it up a bit (better processor, Windows 7). I don't think I want to spend more than $500 for either a laptop or a desktop.

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January 27, 2010 at 08:40:09
Come back here at least daily when you have an active thread.

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January 27, 2010 at 08:48:45
Will do. Thanks for the tip.

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