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February 14, 2002
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The PowerLeap Renaissance -- A Handy PC Upgrade or Repair on a Card

Mike Angelo -- 14 February 2002 (c)

Are you interested in an easy way to upgrade an older computer? Or perhaps you have an older computer or a newer computer that died. If so, there is a very easy way to upgrade an older computer, or to repair a dead one.

This easy solution is the PowerLeap Renaissance/370S PC upgrade. Simply explained, the Renaissance/370S is a basic PC engine and drive-train on an expansion card. Just drop the Renaissance/370S into an older PC you would like to upgrade (or repair) and then reconnect the power and signal cables. Voila! You are set to go.

The PowerLeap Renaissance/370S is a complete, fully integrated motherboard on a large, AT expansion card without edge contacts. The card has the edge connector, just not the contacts. The CPU and all the motherboard chips, connectors, sockets, gizmos, gadgets, widgets, and so forth are on the PowerLeap Renaissance/370S motherboard. Please see Figure 1.

Figure 1. PowerLeap Renaissance/370S. The connector edge without contacts is on the left.

The particularly neat concept of the PowerLeap Renaissance/370S motherboard is that it lets you upgrade or repair an older computer without ever having to remove the old motherboard or anything else for that matter. The old motherboard serves merely as a holder or anchor-point for the new PowerLeap board. That is why there are no contacts on the card's edge.

How It Works

You simply drop the PowerLeap motherboard into an AT slot on the old motherboard. Then move the power connectors from the old motherboard to the PowerLeap Renaissance/370S motherboard. The Renaissance/370S has both AT and ATX power connectors.

Next, reconnect the drive signal cables to the PowerLeap motherboard. Then do a few more minor housekeeping chores, and voila you are up and running.

All in all, it is a pretty slick concept. If you can add an adapter card to a PC, you can do the Renaissance/370S upgrade.


Currently, PowerLeap offers you a choice of three populated Renaissance/370S motherboards:

  • 1-GHz Intel Pentium III with 256-MB PC-133 RAM ($380),
  • 1-GHz Intel Celeron with 256-MB PC-133 RAM ($300), or
  • 850-MHz Intel Celeron CPU with 128-MB PC-133 RAM ($230).
In motherboard lingo, a populated motherboard has the CPU and RAM installed on the board. An unpopulated motherboard does not have the CPU and RAM installed on the board.
You can order different RAM configurations for the above Renaissance/370S populated-motherboard choices. The upgrade from the 256-MB RAM to a 512-MB RAM currently is $69. We recommend a 512-MB RAM.

If you prefer to separately purchase and install a CPU and RAM on the Renaissance/370S motherboard, you can purchase an unpopulated Renaissance/370S motherboard ($150).

What It Is

The Renaissance/370S is a fully integrated motherboard. The video/graphics adapter (AGP 4x), audio adapter (PCI-3D), USB port, and 10/100Mb Ethernet adapter all are built into the Renaissance/370S motherboard.

The connectors for two USB ports, Ethernet adapter, the PS/2 keyboard, and PS/2 mouse are on the Renaissance motherboard card-bracket. Please see Figure 1, above.

All the remaining connectors for video, sound, game port, serial ports, and parallel/printer port, are on connector brackets that attach to the computer case where expansion card brackets would be located. The signal cables come pre-attached to the connector brackets. Then you attach the other ends of the signal cables to the headers on the Renaissance motherboard. Please see Figure 2, below.

That means that the Renaissance/370S upgrade is more than merely a CPU upgrade. In most circumstances, it also will be a graphics upgrade and a sound upgrade. Depending on the age of the computer you are upgrading or repairing, the Renaissance/370S upgrade also might be upgrading the hard-drive I/O and other I/O performance, bus speed, and more.

Check the Renaissance/370S Specifications on page 2 for a more complete list of the Renaissance/370S features. Of course, you would get a similar set of features upgrades by replacing an older motherboard with an Intel PentiumIII/Celeron class motherboard.

Be Careful

A note of caution -- there are no expansion slots on the Renaissance/370S and the Renaissance/370S is not electronically connected to the expansion slots on the old motherboard. That means that you will not be able to add additional adapter, controller, or expansion cards.

Any other external devices that you want to add to your computer after you make the Renaissance/370S upgrade or repair must be able to connect to the existing external USB, serial, or parallel ports. Internal devices must be able to connect to the existing IDE or floppy drive connectors on the Renaissance/370S motherboard. Please see Figure 2, below.

For example, there is no modem built into the Renaissance/370S motherboard. If you want to have a modem for your Renaissance/370S-based PC, simply connect an external modem to it via the Ethernet, serial, or USB port.

If you are wondering how you can connect SCSI devices to the Renaissance/370S, there is a simple solution to that too. Use a SCSI to USB adapter so that you can connect external SCSI devices to your Renaissance/370S-based computer via a USB port.

The Renaissance/370S PC upgrade on a card works very well with both the Linux and Microsoft Windows operating systems. Upgrading (or repairing) an older PC by simply dropping a fully-populated motherboard into an adapter card slot is an innovative, interesting, and very useful concept.

Figure 2. PowerLeap Renaissance/370S connections. Please note the connector edge without contacts on the left bottom and the adapter-card bracket connections on the bottom of this picture. The left part of the card inserts into the adaptor card slot on the old motherboard. (Figures 1 and 2 courtesy of PowerLeap.)

How We Used and Tested the Renaissance/370S PC Upgrade

More on Page 2.

  • How We Used and Tested the Renaissance PC Upgrade
  • The Bang for Your Bucks
  • Conclusion
  • Resources
  • Renaissance/370S Specifications

Copyright 2000-2002 -- MozillaQuest -- Brodheadsville, Pa..USA -- All Rights Reserved

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