14 Nov 2002
As computers age, applications take longer to open and games run slower - it's a given. If you want to address this sluggishness, there are two main paths to take: either buy a new PC or upgrade your existing PC. While buying a new computer is relatively easy (except on your wallet), upgrading your existing one can present many challenges.
If you decide to go the upgrade path, what component(s) should you replace? Videocard? CPU? Memory? Hard drive? The choices can be daunting.
If you decide to upgrade your CPU, your motherboard/chipset will play a major role in determining what options are available to you. For those motherboards that contain an AMD Athlon or Duron processor, there is a good chance it contains a Socket A interface. In that case, you should be able to choose an off the shelf processor as an upgrade (though your motherboard may require a BIOS upgrade). However, if your motherboard contains an Intel processor, things get a little more complicated because Intel has gone through a few CPU interfaces in recent years.
A company called PowerLeap aims to make the CPU upgrading path a bit easier with their line of CPU adapters. Their latest and greatest offering is the PL-iP3/T CPU Upgrade which provides modern Intel upgrades for older Slot 1 motherboards. The PL-iP3/T supports the latest .13 micron Intel "Tualatin" processors, including the 1.0, 1.2, and 1.4 GHz Celeron with 256K L2 cache and 1.2, 1.26, and 1.4 GHz Pentium-III with up to 512K L2 cache. For this review, the Slot 1/1.4GHz version was tested.
(shown with copper heatsink; review unit had aluminum heatsink).
The first thing I noticed was the size of the Aluminum heatsink/fan combo. Usually large heatsinks are welcomed, but in my case it barely fit. In fact, as seen in the picture below, the CPU fan blew directly into my memory modules. More than half the fan was blocked by the memory.
While placing the PowerLeap CPU into the Slot was difficult, it didn't match the trouble I had getting the system to properly recognize the processor. The older the motherboard, the more opportunity there is for problems. PowerLeap recommends that you have the latest motherboard BIOS installed before attempting to install their CPU. It took a lot of BIOS tinkering and a few emails to their tech support before getting the system stable. Even after that, PowerLeap's own software said it was a 1.3GHz processor utilizing a 14X multiplier and a 100MHz FSB! How's that for math?