Evergreen Spectra 400 CPU Upgrade|
By Kelly Lu - August 27, 2001
So, you've got an old Pentium-based system lying around doing nothing because you can't find anything that will run properly or smoothly on it. What do you do? Upgrade, of course. But how?
Sure, you could always just plug in a newer processor, but the fact remains that the Pentium processor only goes up to 233MHz. Overclocking it won't do the job either, since the best you'll be able to hope for would be around 266MHz with a 233MHz processor. So your only choice would be to strip out the core components such as the motherboard, processor and memory and replace them with newer products… right?
Wrong. Evergreen Technology has made a unique product called the Spectra 400 that will allow you to upgrade your old Pentium-based computer to an AMD K6-2 400MHz processor--and without having to replace anything other than just the CPU itself. Pretty cool, eh?
Well, sort of. Although the Spectra 400 allows you to simply pop in a new processor to be able to enjoy 400MHz of processing glory, there are some serious penalties associated with it--and not only because it is sold for a relatively high price of $179 USD ($129 after an instant rebate).
Actually, the $179 USD price tag is one of the main points that I should mention about the Spectra 400. With the low price of hardware, especially core components such as memory and processors, it seems kind of funny for a company to even think about charging the same price for something that would only theoretically give you half the performance than if you upgrade all the core components as well. So what gives?
Well, the answer lies in the fact that the Spectra 400 is actually designed for users who are not able to rip apart their computer and then be able to put everything back together properly. Believe it or not, and contrary to what most experienced system builders will tell you, putting together a computer from scratch is a lot more complex than one might think. Spending the higher price means that the user will only have to, theoretically, take out their old processor and pop in the new one, which is much easier than ripping everything apart.
Then there's the... you guessed it, performance aspect of just upgrading the processor. See, like the CPU, the platform, composed of the motherboard's chipset as well as the memory that goes along with it, is also being rapidly improved on. So, while you have just doubled or tripled your processor's speed to 400MHz, you're still limited by the old platform of your old processor. This could cause a big performance hit, since your relatively super-fast 400MHz processor will be thirsting for data to be delivered to it from the platform.
By keeping these two factors in mind--that the high price is meant to give novices a chance to upgrade their system themselves and the fact that just upgrading the processor will never yield the same amount of performance as upgrading the platform that it runs on alongside it--let's take a closer look at the Spectra 400.
On to: First Impressions