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Rejuvenating Old Hardware with Windows 7

Sitting on my desk at home is one of the original Shuttle SFF (Small Form Factor) PC's that I purchased back in 2003. It ran Windows XP Pro which was a bit sluggish but very stable. I had tried to install Vista on it at one stage but the experience wasn't that fantastic so I reverted back to XP.

This morning I thought it would be fun to wipe the machine and see if I could get the Windows 7 (32 bit) Beta build to install and whether or not the machine would be usable. My hopes weren't particularly high as this was six year old (vintage??) hardware based on a chipset (NVIDIA nforce2) that even Vista doesn't officially support.

To my surprise (and delight) the installation process went smoothly and quite quickly. There were a number of (chipset) devices that weren't automatically installed - which was to be expected - so I downloaded and installed the most recent nforce2 drivers from the NVIDIA web site.
This resolved all unknown devices except for ethernet adapter which was installed but non-functional.

A quick Live Search returned this Digg article talking about how to get nforce2 drivers to work with Vista (as well as Windows 7) which pointed me to this page where I downloaded a driver pack and manually installed the Windows XP ethernet driver.

Once I had ethernet up and running I was able to connect to Windows Update and get the machine up to speed with the latest drivers and various updates.

The end result: All devices successfully installed and functioning normally. I'm not going to be able to play Crysis on the machine but I certainly have rejuvenated a 6 year old PC that is quite capable of running everyday tasks like internet, email, photos, music and even movies!

Machine Specs:
- Shuttle SN41G2 Barebones System (circa January 2003)
   - NVIDIA nForce2 SPP/MCP-T Chipset
- AMD Athlon XP 3000+ (2.167 GHz)
- NVIDIA GeForce 7600 GT (upgraded from original graphics card)
- 2GB RAM (upgraded from 1GB RAM ~ 2 years ago)

Windows Experience Index Score: 3.3


Not too shabby indeed!

So if you have a PC laying about the house with hardware specs similar to mine I highly recommend giving the Windows 7 beta a try to see if it can breathe new life into an old(er) machine.

And if you've managed to get the beta up and running on even older hardware please let us know in the comments - I'd love to hear about your adventures Smiley

I wonder if I can get the Windows 7 beta running on an i486DX,.. hmm,....

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  • pokeystuffpokeystuff

    I installed the PDC Pre-Beta release on a Pentium III 1GHz with 512Mb of RAM as a test of the frugal claims.. It was not fast but it installed and operated reliabily. Could not get the Graphics to work beyond the Standard VGA adaptor. Unfortunately the mainboard would not support beyond 512MB RAM, I believe more RAM would have done the trick to make the machine more usable. I must say it was not really usable though.

    I have also installed the PDC Pre-Beta on a Compaq Presario 5000, Pentium 4 2GHz, 1GB RAM machine. It ran very well in fact and was quite practical for day to day computing tasks like internet surfing etc. Unfortunately again I could find no graphics drivers though so there was no eye candy. But otherwise a stable and happy computer.

    Windows 7 is shaping up to be a lean OS.

    Cheers

    Dean

  • pokeystuffpokeystuff

    I installed the PDC Pre-Beta release on a Pentium III 1GHz with 512Mb of RAM as a test of the frugal claims.. It was not fast but it installed and operated reliabily. Could not get the Graphics to work beyond the Standard VGA adaptor. Unfortunately the mainboard would not support beyond 512MB RAM, I believe more RAM would have done the trick to make the machine more usable. I must say it was not really usable though.

    I have also installed the PDC Pre-Beta on a Compaq Presario 5000, Pentium 4 2GHz, 1GB RAM machine. It ran very well in fact and was quite practical for day to day computing tasks like internet surfing etc. Unfortunately again I could find no graphics drivers though so there was no eye candy. But otherwise a stable and happy computer.

    Windows 7 is shaping up to be a lean OS.

    Cheers

    Dean

  • JudithJudith

    I am finding your info and a couple of other blogs related to downloading the Win7 Beta on machines with OS's other than Vista very interesting.  Here's a question--once the Beta is over (I think August, 2009) will you be able to restore your pc to its original OS?  I have a laptop with XP Pro (MCE) that is 4 years old and I am very tempted to download the Beta on it.  But, I am a scaredy cat!

    Good going.
    Judith

  • JudithJudith

    I am finding your info and a couple of other blogs related to downloading the Win7 Beta on machines with OS's other than Vista very interesting.  Here's a question--once the Beta is over (I think August, 2009) will you be able to restore your pc to its original OS?  I have a laptop with XP Pro (MCE) that is 4 years old and I am very tempted to download the Beta on it.  But, I am a scaredy cat!

    Good going.
    Judith

  • Nic Fillinghamnic Easily Distracted
    @pokeystuff - I upgraded the RAM and graphics in the PC mentioned above about 2 years ago. Before that it was 512MB RAM and on board graphics - GeForce4 MX - so I kind of cheated a bit.

    You can force Win 7 to use Vista and even XP drivers - what are the graphics cards/adapters in your machines? Perhaps I can help you search for some drivers?

    I would highly recommend upgrading both of those machines to the beta build (7000) although 1GB RAM is highly recommended.

    @Judith that's a good question and I don't know the answer right now but I will try and find out for you. If you have (preferably) 1GB RAM in your XP laptop and have backed up your data I would HIGHLY recommend installing the Windows 7 beta - I think you'll be really plesantly surprised. Do you have install discs for Windows XP Media Center Edition? If so you can always reinstall once the beta runs out or if you don't like Win 7....
  • HawaiiTomHawaiiTom

    I installed W7 Beta yesterday and so far, I am very impressed. I bought my wife's eMachine, a 3.1 Ghz P4, with XP on it and got the "free" Vista upgrade when it came out. I was smart emough to do a clean, dual boot install. WHAT A DOG! The machine just couldn't handle the "upgrade" Vista, which was the source of a few class-action lawsuits. I recently reformatted the Vista patition to reclaim some space, but then the W7 Beta came along. It works so smoothly on that same machine I am blown away. It found all my drivers, recognizerd my DNS-323 NAS device and starts up and shuts down quickly. As a bonus, Windows Media Center now records in a .wtv format rather than DVR-MS, and the new files actually play on my DSM-520 Media Center. I don't have to upgrade to a DSM-750 after all. W7 is what Vista should have been in the first place, and is finally worth upgrading to from XP

  • HawaiiTomHawaiiTom

    I installed W7 Beta yesterday and so far, I am very impressed. I bought my wife's eMachine, a 3.1 Ghz P4, with XP on it and got the "free" Vista upgrade when it came out. I was smart emough to do a clean, dual boot install. WHAT A DOG! The machine just couldn't handle the "upgrade" Vista, which was the source of a few class-action lawsuits. I recently reformatted the Vista patition to reclaim some space, but then the W7 Beta came along. It works so smoothly on that same machine I am blown away. It found all my drivers, recognizerd my DNS-323 NAS device and starts up and shuts down quickly. As a bonus, Windows Media Center now records in a .wtv format rather than DVR-MS, and the new files actually play on my DSM-520 Media Center. I don't have to upgrade to a DSM-750 after all. W7 is what Vista should have been in the first place, and is finally worth upgrading to from XP

  • Nic Fillinghamnic Easily Distracted
    @HawaiiTom you're not a paid spokesperson are you... Wink

    As a rule I never "upgrade" an OS. Always format and install from scratch

    Glad to hear you're enjoying the Windows 7 beta. Let us know if you bump into any cool features and if you find a bug make sure you use the Send Feedback link on your desktop (also in the start menu) to let the dev teams know.


  • Aurelien CAurelien C

    Where did you find  the driver for the network adapter? I have the Shuttle K45 and I cant find a driver, windows cant find one also.

  • Aurelien CAurelien C

    Where did you find  the driver for the network adapter? I have the Shuttle K45 and I cant find a driver, windows cant find one also.

  • Nic Fillinghamnic Easily Distracted
    @Aurelien check out this link - I had to manually install the WinXP ethernet driver and click through a couple of warnings but it works fine - http://nf2.stuff.googlepages.com/

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