Clever Motherboard Hack Brings Late 90’s Motherboard Into The Early 2000’s

Asus Motherboard gets CPU Upgrade Past its Specs

Some people look at specifications as a requirement, and others look at them as a challenge. You’re reading this on Hackaday, so you know where [Necroware] falls. In the video below the break, you’ll see how he takes a common mid-to-late 90’s motherboard and takes it well past its spec sheet.

A pull up resistor enables faster clock multipliers
[Necroware] does what all soldering iron ads think people do with soldering irons
Having already started with replacing the Real Time Clock with his own creation, [Necroware] looked for other opportunities to make the Asus P/I-P55TP4XEG more capable than Asus did. And, he succeeded. Realizing that the motherboard has the ability to have an external voltage regulator board, [Necroware] made one so that the Socket 7 board could supply more than a single voltage to the CPU- the very thing keeping him from upgrading from a Pentium 133 to a Pentium MMX 200.

While the upgrade was partially successful, a deep dive into the Socket 7 and Super Socket 7 documentation helped him realize the need for a pullup resistor on a strategic clocking pin. Then, [Necroware] went full Turbo and smashed this author’s favorite single core CPU of all time into the socket: the AMD K6-2 450, a CPU well beyond the original capabilities of the board.

It really goes to show that, of course, It’s All About The Pentiums. Thanks to [BaldPower] for the doing the needful and dropping this great hack into the Tip Line!

32 thoughts on “Clever Motherboard Hack Brings Late 90’s Motherboard Into The Early 2000’s

    1. 🙄 Depends on how we look at it. Catalog vs reality. Sure, the original Pentium 133 was released (on paper) somewhen in 1995 and the AMD K6-2 450 in 1999, but..

      In reality, who did actually *own* such piece of hardware back then at the release date? 🙂

      I for one didn’t own a 486 system 1989, for example. Neither did I own a Pentium 60 (P5) in 1993. I also doubt there were many mainboards for sale initially that could use that chip.

      Personally, it’s the same “issue” as with that period-correctnes trend. In reality, people kept upgrading their existing systems rather than ordering a new system as shown in catalogues.

      A 286 or XT PC with a CD-ROM drive was very rarely seen in catalogs, if at all, but that doesn’t mean these didn’t exist. Back in the 90s, CD ROMs were the future, so people bought Multimedia Kits that consisted of sound cards with on-board CD-ROM interface and a slow CD-ROM drive. Users installed them into their existing machines, not caring how old they were. Of course, that’s not documented anywhere. Specifications never show reality, merely an ideal scenario.

        1. I can trace the lineage of my Ryzen 7 5800X-based system, “Ship of Theseus” style, all the way back to the Am386 SX-25 I got handed down to me from my dad when he bought a shiny new 486 DX-33. I’ve never completely replaced the system in one upgrade.

          (I am also, over 30 years later, still using the same Steelcase office chair. Replacing it’s tough, I’ve been spoiled and it’s made me really picky! Haha.)

      1. I was actually using a k6-2 550mhz as a daily driver and gaming pc in 2004. There were a few iterations of that build, but its final form was;k6-2 500 oc to 550, 512mb pc133, 20gb Maxtor fireball. (sort of half height 3.5 drive) abd a quantum Bigfoot 19gb drive too, intel i740 agp card. Served me well through my starcraft brood war days. Handled half life well enough, tachyon the fringe, shogo, septerra core, cs1.6, various emulators, diablo 2. Etc. Win98se with plus, later xp.

  1. If only there were a super easy hack to make most late model laptop motherboards fully supportive of ECC RAM. That is only available in expensive HP, Dell or a small number of AMD processor business laptops. But I know it’s a silly request-though no more sillier than ever expecting major or even minor laptop makers to offer ECC RAM in even customizable consumer laptops.

      1. You are off by 10 years. The only time Intel offered ECC as standard on its products was during brief 486 period when all chipsets they offered were considered high-end and their chipset market share was in single digits. Market segmentation shenanigans started around 1995 with Pentium line, with ECC absent from all consumer oriented product lines.

    1. What are you working on that needs ECC RAM? Payroll? Patient records? Banking? If your work is sensitive enough to require ECC RAM then you probably shouldn’t be doing it on a machine that you will probably leave in the back seat of a taxi.

      1. X, I think you are mistaken what the usefulness of ECC is. Bitflip protection in the end is all about reliability. Nobody likes an unstable system, be it during compilation, gaming or anything really.

        1. To an extent, it isn’t an on module solution but instead an in chip. That means if there is a bit flip on the chip you’re good but, if a bit flips in transportation than you are screwed. Regular ECC makes sure that no bits are flipped in transport.

  2. Ryan Flowers, The K6-II was your favorite single-core CPU of all time?

    K6-IIs were awesome. But where’s the love for the K6-III? Nobody ever seems to talk about that one. Maybe it was timing, people had already moved on beyond socket 7. I don’t know. I used them for a few years and definitely saw a performance difference over the K6-II.Those were my favorite days for home computer upgrades.

    After that it seemed like socket types, RAM types, even the power supply started changing so fast that upgrading a custom PC started getting less practical. So sad!

    1. I in fact had an AMD K6-II 450, my first AMD processor, and I’ve had nothing but AMD until a few (ok, maybe 9?) years ago, when I went to intel core i7’s. But I’m no CPU buff. What makes the K6-II 450 stand out so much?

    2. I had a Compaq desktop with a K6-II@400 MHz in the fall of 1998, and two years or so later I upgraded that to a K6-II+ @550MHz – it half the integrated L2 cache of the K6-III, but could run substantially faster and was a drop-in replacement. Made for a great, inexpensive upgrade.

    3. Yep @Twisty Plastic, the K6-2 450 MHz is my favorite single core CPU of all time. I don’t have a specific or rational reason other than that it was *fast* for its time and I was able to use the heck out of it. I also used an Athlon II X2 for far longer than I should have. And later, a Phenom II X2 that I unlocked to X4 (a BE 550 if anybody is wondering) which I used for 8 years. And now my Ryzen 5 1400, while not being high end, is fast enough for everything I do with my computer. Also, my first PC, a 286/12 was actually an AMD chip.

    4. K6-II was never awesome. It was destined for cheap supermarket all in one Sis PCChips crapboxes.
      As soon as you wanted a decent motherboard with non broken AGP you were looking at Intel 440BX + Celeron 300A prices, and we should all know by now how “well” K6-2/3 compares to Intel Celerons. K6s were only non terrible as upgrades for:
      -owners of really old socket 7 systems with not a lot of money
      -people unwilling to just sell their old motherboard/ram combo and switch to 440BX with overclocked Celeron

      440BX board – $140 in 1998, down to $120 in 1999.
      Celeron 300A – down to $90 at the end of 1998, was always kept a hair cheaper than K6-2/300. Add 4 strips of electrical tape over some pins (voltage ones and B21 – remember this one to this day) and you are in 450MHz Pentium 2 performance territory business.

      and before anyone goes with ‘expensive Intel motherboards!!111’ 1999 Asus P5A was $140 (ss7 mobo with actually working AGP you can make 99% stable). K6-3+ was $140 in 2000. This glorious combo overclocked to 600MHz is still slower than Celeron 300A@450. You need to bring all the guns, tweak every nook and cranny, optimize all the hardware selection, pick late motherboard revision, and go 5x124MHz fsb for 620MHz to finally pass <$100 Celeron 300A@450 running rock stable on stock components.

      The thing about K6-III is they were expensive at first, with AMD getting this weird idea they could charge P2 prices. In February 1999 "AMD-K6-III/450 processor is priced at $476, and the AMD-K6-III/400 processor is priced at $284" and this is what you got:
      By the time K6-III went down to ~$100-150 range you could pick $100 Coppermine Celerons 566-700 trivially overclockable to 866-950MHz, or Duron 600 also overclockable to ~900MHz (actually challenging, required pencil and soldering multiplier straps on cheap motherboards), and as a bonus you got a motherboard with working AGP slot. In games (Q3/UT) even non overclocked Celeron Mendocino was faster than K6-3+ :o

      1. Well, I don’t really know what you are talking about with the AGP thing. I remember having AGP video cards and them working just fine. I was pissed when new mobos stopped coming with AGP slots because I liked to upgrade one piece at a time. But then I never had a super fancy gamer card. Depending on exactly when we are talking about I either had a plain old 2D card or an out-of-date gamer card.

        I was in college or just graduated. I don’t have the exact timeframe of what chips I used memorized. You remember the prices? Wow. And Why?

        I do know that I tended to stay a generation or so behind. I shopped the clearance rack at the local store and also ordered too many used parts off EBay. So there’s that. Sounds like you were riding the cutting edge. I know I couldn’t and wouldn’t have paid $400 for a CPU! I won’t even do that now! Although I could.

        My own PC back then was mainly for coding, surfing the internet, listening to music, instant messengers and watching early video streams. Remember Real Video?

        I worked on a lot of friends and relatives PCs who used their computers for similar stuff, minus the coding. Those who bought their computers in stores almost always had a Celeron and those things were SLOW. Others had me build or upgrade their PCs and I always used AMD. They booted faster, opened webpages faster and just overall were better than anything Celeron. Celerons were for E-Machines from Walmart! They were worth about as much as the AOL CD that came with them.

        The only people I knew with non-Celeron Intel CPUs were gamers who spent a LOT more money than I had access to. For the kind of use I had they seemed to have about the same results. You can only shave so many milliseconds off loading Netscape before it doesn’t matter. But they could run the latest games.

        I always thought their games worked so well because of their fancy video cards and they wasted their money buying the Intel CPU. I could run games but if they weren’t years old low framerates made them hard to play. But it’s not like I could know for it was all in the video. I didn’t have the money or time for that. The gamers I knows would spend hours and hours gaming. I had school, work and an active social life. I wasn’t sleeping enough as it was!

        1. >Depending on exactly when we are talking about I either had a plain old 2D card or an out-of-date gamer card

          Yes, something like S3 Trio 3D worked great in any AGP slot, so did Voodoo Banshee/3 – those cards never used AGP features and treated AGP as fast PCI. Plugging Intel i740, Riva128, Riva TNT on the other hand resulted in computer crashing in games.

          > You remember the prices? Wow. And Why?

          I worked at national PC components distributor at the time, got old price listings :) plus looked up historical akihabara prices as they almost always had razor thin margins due to competition in the market Exchange rate 110/1 in 1999/9, 120/1 in 98/12

          >Sounds like you were riding the cutting edge

          what part of $100 celerons did you miss? In 1999/9 Slot1 Celeron 300A was ~$55, K6-III/450 ~$160. In 98/12 Celeron 300A was ~$87, K6-2/300 ~$78

          >Celerons were for E-Machines from Walmart!

          unlike glorious AMD based name brand systems like Packard Bell 955 with integrated ATI Rage 2C and no AGP slot? :)
          The point I am making is not that Celeron was better period. Its that you can make Celeron CPU run as fast as P2 for free (masking tape), but to polish a turd like K6 takes extreme dedication as shown in earlier linked YT video where to make it run faster than celeron@450MHz took K6-3+ @620MHz with tons of effort on best/most expensive period correct components.
          Cheap K6 and Celeron systems both came bundled with crappy motherboards. But even a smidge of looking at benchmark websites let you figure out which one could be made fast if you build system with rudimentary care about motherboard/chipset choice, and it wasnt K6.

          > I didn’t have the money or time for that.

          so it all comes down to “K6-IIs were awesome” because “I had one and didnt care to research”? :/ This is Stockholm syndrome and post purchase rationalization in the purest form.

          >A K6-2 or K6-III blew the pants off any Celeron at the same clock speed! They didn’t even belong in the same category.

          How about you actually look at the Anandtech “AMD K6-3 Review” from 1998 I linked above? Just a reminder:
          cpu – price – quake 2 fps
          K6-III/450 – $476 – 45
          K6-III/400 – $284 – 43
          K6-2/300 – $78 – 27
          Celeron 300A – $87 – 54
          Celeron 300A@450MHz – $87 – 60

          What doesnt belong in what now? :)

      2. Were you falling for the myth that it was all about the clock speed?

        A K6-2 or K6-III blew the pants off any Celeron at the same clock speed! They didn’t even belong in the same category. Celeron was trash!

        1. Yeah there’s some creative memory edits going on there.
          In high school I had a friend who used to yabber on about P2s and how they were the best etc. He had a P2-400 and I went with a K6-2 450. He would never shut up about how much faster his was and how I had wasted my money.
          At a LAN part, in front of everyone I called him out and asked him to prove it was faster. MP3 encoding, ZIP file extraction, even playing Quake (with his videocard) the K6-2 was faster in every demonstration. By like 50% in some cases. Both machines had 64MB RAM

          He shut up about it after that, which is all I wanted.

          1. Did my creative memory edits also edit link I posted from 1998?

            >P2-400 and I went with a K6-2 450
            >playing Quake

            You were missing second piece of the puzzle, Intel 440BX chipset. Intel CPUs on VIA/SIS motherboards were a disaster. Popular with cheap system builders – slap expensive CPU and cheapest motherboard possible, sell on CPU brand name alone.

  3. I have fond memory’s of my k6-2 400 @ 450 mhz 64mb upgraded with 2x 128mb ram then got a 500mhz chip running @ 524mhz ati rage pro 128 32mb agp card those were the days before my 1.4 ghz @ 1.6 with dual channel ddr on first gen nforce and raid striping sata making loading text blip out faster that it appeared

  4. ECC also provides some protection against certain classes of row-hammer type exploits, and more importantly, statistics. As memory quantity increases the chance of a memory error tends to 100%. It’s like the

    I don’t know about you, but any memory error has the potential to be destructive. Why wouldn’t you want to avoid them for a 12.5% price premium?

  5. Back in 1995, I had a similar Asus motherboard with a Cyrix 166GP+ processor, I was wondering why it was taking an hour to convert an WAV to MP3, while with an Intel it was taking 5 minutes. The Cyrix did not had any mathematical coprocessor…

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