This motherboard by the Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS) is even farther back. It uses an early AMD Athon XP 1800+, a 1.50GHz processor that was released in about 2002. We are looking at a period when computers were transitioning from Windows 98 to newer versions. In fact, their manual mentioned using Windows 98/ME/2000/XP.
What is odd with this motherboard is the XP 1800+ processor is soldered in. Usually, you only see this in Mini-ITX systems with processors like Intel’s Atom, never in a Micro-ATX.
Aside from the embedded processor, the rest of the motherboard is what one would expect from a VIA KM266 chipset. There are two memory slots that accept DDR 266/200 MHz, 184 pin memory sticks. Maximum ram capacity is 2GB. There is an S3 integrated graphics, one AGP x4 slot, two PCI and one CNR.
Best Linux to use
Like I said before, there’s no point testing old motherboards with Windows because they are obsolete. Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP long time ago. Obviously Windows 10 will not run with this motherboard. The only option is to find a Linux that can breathe some life into it.
I checked around and found some people had success with the old Ubuntu 11.04. I tried it and found it didn’t work for me.The one that did was 12.04. But it was still slow and the display was very sluggish. Even the mouse couldn’t move properly.
I decided to try newer Linux releases and surprisingly the board took to Bodhi Linux. It booted up without any complaints. However, the display was distorted due to wrong resolution. I pulled out my AGP card and slotted it in, hoping that it will cure the problem. When I booted up the board, the entire display had strange colors. That’s not good. I thought maybe my card is broken. Swapped it with another AGP card. Again, funny colors. By now, I’m at my wits end. I don’t really know whether my two AGP cards are broken or the problem lies with the AGP slot. Out of desperation, I resorted to a PCI graphics card. Booted up the board again and to my relief, no funny colors.
When Bodhi desktop came on, it was beautiful. The display was in my monitor’s native 1920 x 1080 resolution. The mouse was working smoothly, not like it was intoxicated. I could navigate the Enlightenment desktop without hindrance. The refresh was naturally slower than using an AGP card but with two failed attempts, I didn’t have much of a choice.
No Internet Access
With the graphics sorted out, I proceeded to install Chromium. When I tried to access the internet, Chromium wouldn’t launch. That’s when I discovered that the XP 1800+ only supports SSE. For a browser to work with today’s internet, the minimum is SSE2. So this motherboard is strictly “No Internet”.
I then turned my attention to the audio. The on-board sound is from a VIA8233 South Bridge. I installed Audacious with Synaptic, played some of my test tracks, and found the audio to be quite satisfactory. The vocal clarity is there, not muddied by the bass. Bass itself is tight and not boomy. As for the treble, it’s natural, not abrasive like some other motherboards. Using my Grado SR-80 headphones, the frequency response sounds flat. This is the first time I’m actually quite comfortable with the music coming from a motherboard audio chip.
My next step was to see how well the system performs with LibreOffice. I downloaded and installed it with Synaptic, launched Calc, all the while with Audacious playing music. The system worked perfectly. The XP 1800+ did not flatline at 100%. While doing all these, the music did not stall, neither did LibreOffice. As can be seen from the CPU History below, the XP 1800+ was working at only 40%.
Old but not Out
The L7VMM3 may be a museum piece but there is still a lot of life in it. Education is one. With LibreOffice, the user gets the equivalent of Windows Office. Another use is as a music server. There’s no necessity to install a sound card. The on-board sound is good enough to do the job.
Whether this motherboard is still being used today, I do not know. For myself, I’m keeping my L7VMM3 for posterity. It reminds me of the time when the world ushered in the next millennium.
January 4, 2020Computers