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The PowerLeap Renaissance -- A Handy PC Upgrade or Repair on a Card

Mike Angelo -- 14 February 2002 (c)

Page 2

The motherboard in one of our 300-MHZ CPU PCs died. So, we dropped a Renaissance/370S motherboard into it. This Renaissance/370S came populated with a 1-GHz Pentium III CPU and 512-MB of PC-100 RAM.

While we were at it, we replaced a 20-GB DiamondMax hard drive with a new 100-GB Maxtor D536X hard drive. The box is a generic ATX case. Although we did not have to do it in order to make the repair, we pulled the old CPU, RAM, and adapter cards off the old motherboard so we could use them in other machines.

The Renaissance-based machine was connected to our 10/100 Ethernet LAN via the RJ45 connector on the Renaissance board.

The result is a powerful, multi-boot, machine running Caldera OpenLinux, Microsoft Windows 98 SE, and Red Hat Linux. We used a Belkin SCSI to USB adapter to add SCSI to the Renaissance-based box.

The Renaissance-based box works great. It has been performing a variety of and typical mix of computing tasks, quite well for months (including CD burning, game play, MPEG playing, server-log analyses, Web surfing, FTP work, word processing, graphic and image manipulation, and lots more).

The Bang for Your Bucks

Please keep in mind that you can use the Renaissance/370S to upgrade from a 286, 386, 486, 586, 686, Pentium, Pentium II, or comparable AMD or Cyrix based system to an Intel PentiumIII/Celeron class computer -- all these upgrades require replacing the motherboard and CPU.
Installing and configuring the Renaissance/370S PC upgrade on a card is more tricky than merely slapping-in an expansion card. But it's easier than pulling the old motherboard and replacing it -- especially if you have never replaced a motherboard.

There is lots of bang for the buck with the Renaissance/370S. By upgrading an older PC you end up with a 1-GHz Intel PIII/Celeron class computer for about $300 to $400 at list prices -- a substantial saving over buying a new computer.

You could buy a regular motherboard, CPU, and RAM to make an upgrade for a little less than buying the Renaissance/370S. However, the ease and convenience of dropping the Renaissance/370S into an expansion card slot verses the hassle of removing and replacing an old or not-working motherboard can wash out the price differential.

Moreover, if by using the Renaissance/370S upgrade kit you can make the upgrade yourself and avoid paying labor charges, you come out ahead money-wise. If you are in charge of computers for a business, organization, school, or large-scale enterprise, you can save lots of labor costs by using the Renaissance/370S to upgrade its computers.

Conclusion

The Renaissance/370S concept of upgrading or repairing a computer by dropping what essentially is a new PC into an expansion slot is interesting and innovative. More importantly, it works well. And the PowerLeap Renaissance/370S is easy to install.


More on Page 1.

  • PowerLeap Renaissance/370S PC Upgrade on a Card
  • How It Works
  • Choices
  • What It Is
  • Be Careful




Resources


Article Index

Related Articles


Easily Add SCSI to Laptop, Notebook, & Desktop Computers

Why, When, & How to Upgrade, Repair, and Maintain Your PC or Personal Computer


Getting Started with Wireless Network Technology


Caldera OpenLinux Workstation 3.1 -- A First Look

Red Hat Linux 7.2 Distribution Released

Triple-Boot Caldera OpenLinux, Red Hat Linux, & MS Windows for Best of Three Worlds


Products in Article


Belkin F5U115-UNV USB SCSI Adapter



Books

Here are some books to help you with upgrading or repairing your PC. They cover different user levels, take different approaches, and discuss different upgrading or repairing techniques and solutions. Pick the book or books that suit your needs best. Scott Mueller's Upgrading and Repairing PCs with more than 1,500 pages is the most comprehensive. It also includes a CD that has an excellent, 90-minute, step-by-step, how-to, PC building and upgrading video -- plus lots of technical reference information and entire text of several previous editions of Scott's book.

Absolute Beginner's Guide to PC Upgrades, Que, ISBN 0-7897-2417-0. $25.

How Computers Work, Que, ISBN 0-7897-2549-5. $35.

PC Hardware in a Nutshell, O'Reilly, ISBN 1-56592-599-8. $30.

Upgrading and Repairing PCs, 13th Edition, Que, ISBN 0-7897-2542-8. $60


Article Index

Renaissance/370S Specifications

(From the Renaissance/370S User's Manual)

Specifications

Form Factor: ISA Bus (used to seat the Renaissance/370S)
Card Size: Full Size (250mm x 120mm)
Processor Socket: Socket 370
Supported CPUs: Intel Pentium III or Intel Celeron CPUs
Chipset: SiS 2E20 630E 2D/3D Ultra-AGP Single Chipset
BIOS:
·AwardA9 BIOS supports DMI, Plug-and-Play, ACPI, Boot from
CD-ROM, LS-120 120MB FDD, and ZIP devices
·Supports SymbiosA9 SCSI BIOS
·Anti-virus BIOS for prevention against boot-virus
System Memory:
·2 x 168-pin DIMM sockets for up to 1GB SDRAM memory capacity
·Supports 8/16/32/64/128/256/512MB memory modules
·Supports ECC (Error Checking & Correction) DIMMs
Frontside Bus: Supports 133/100/66MHz
Voltage Regulator Module:
Synchronous switching regulator provides 1.3V to 3.5V operating voltage
I/O:
·PS/2 keyboard port
·PS/2 mouse port
·VGA port
·Floppy port header (supports LS120)
·Parallel port header (EPP, ECP port)
·IrDA TX/RX header
·Two Serial port headers (16550 fast UART-compatible)
·MIDI/game port header and one audio jack: Line Out, Line In, and Mic In
·RJ-45 phone jack (10/100Mb Ethernet support)
Advanced Features:
·AGP 3D Graphics and AC97 audio on-board
·Modem ring-in remote power on (for ATX power)
·Hardware monitoring (fan, temperature, voltage)
·Built-in Realtek 10/100Mb LAN Fast Ethernet controller
·Powerful hardware decoding DVD accelerator
PCI Bus Master IDE: UltraDMA/66 PCI Bus Master IDE Ports, supports up to 66MB/s
USB Interface: 2 USB connectors (onboard USB header for two extra USB channels)
Floppy Interface: Floppy disk drive controller supports 3.5-inch drives with 720KB,
1.44MB, 2.88MB, Type 3 format or 5.25-inch drives with 360KB or 1.2MB format
Power Management:
·Compliant with EPA, APM 1.2, and ACPI
·ATX soft-off power control
·Power-on by RTC alarm, external modem ring, or wake on LAN
System Monitoring:
·CPU temperature warning and system temperature detection
·CPU and system voltage detection
·CPU and secondary fan RPM detection
Power Connectors:
·ATX 20-pin power connector
·AT 12-pin power connector


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