I bought this motherboard out of curiosity. I’m sure it has been with me for more than a decade. I never really used it because it was too slow. Since I’m working on Linux, I thought I’ll give it another shot.
In my PCM7G, the C7 runs at 1.50GHz. By today’s standards, that’s snail’s speed. Nevertheless, there are some features that are attractive. One is the integrated graphics, an S3 Unichrome Pro with up to 64MB of shared memory. There’s no AGP slot for an external graphics card but there are two PCI which may come in handy. It has two memory slots which can take a maximum of 2GB of DDR2 400/533 types. As for hard drive, there are two SATA and one IDE.
I tested the PCM7G with various Linux distros and eventually found the right one in antiX-17. Believe it or not, it’s fast. And that is with a single core processor at 1.50GHz. Applications like LibreOffice are a breeze to use. You don’t have to wait an eternity for it. However, internet is hopeless. Even Chromium crawls. So, best to take it as “not for internet use”.
The first thing that surprised me when antiX-17 booted up was the display. It went straight to my native 1920×1080 resolution. And it’s sharp. That’s impressive for an ancient S3 Unichrome Pro. Hats off to the developers of antiX-17. Some Linux distros don’t even support the S3 graphics anymore.
My main purpose for testing this PCM7G is to see whether it can be used as a music server. With the extremely low cpu power consumption and silent operation, it would be ideal for home and commercial installations.
Sadly, when I tested out the on-board audio, I wasn’t getting any sound of it. The VIA8237 drivers are loaded but nothing. Maybe it’s broken. This is where the PCI slots are a godsend. I inserted a Sound Blaster Audigy 2 zs and booted up antiX-17 again and it loaded the Audigy2 drivers automatically.
Audigy2 zs to the rescue
When I played back some music, all I got was some high pitch sound. I thought “Oh dear, did I just kill my Audigy?” I quickly shut down the system, fearing that it may destroy my Audigy2. After fiddling around with the BIOS settings, I managed to get the Audigy2 to work. Here are the necessary steps.
When you boot up, press DEL to go into BIOS POST.
is the PCM7G still of any use
Most certainly. This “all in one” motherboard is ideal for school work. Since the web browsers are too slow for the internet, you won’t have to worry about your kids going into unsavory websites. You can choose to run Microsoft Office with XP, I can’t remember how fast though, or antiX-17 Linux with LibreOffice.
As for a music server, absolutely no problem. The CPU History below shows the VIA C7 processor working at 43% only and this is with Audacious playing. With the music on, I can even work with some applications like LibreOffice Writer without the system slowing down. .
All in, I’m actually quite impressed with this VIA C7 processor. We are looking at a single core 1.50GHz cpu and it can do quite a bit of work. If you happen to have a ID-PCM7G that’s not broken, you can put it to good use with antiX-17 Linux. It’s a solid OS and it’s FREE.
January 2, 2020Computers