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Published on February 21, 2007 By BigDogBigFeet In Personal Computing
Hi guys. I thought I would check here to see what sort of info I could gain on upgrading my PC. First off I have done a printout of some pertinent Hardware specs regarding my equipment. I have an HP Pavilion a1230n Desktop. When purchased it was a nice mid-range Home PC desktop. It has an AMD Athlon 3800+ CPU 2.4 GHz with an ASUS motherboard and 939 socket. Since I have no relevant experience in upgarding a PC, the most I have discovered is there may be some possibility to upgrade the CPU to an AMD 64 X2 4600+ 939 socket. Relevant info I don't know: how to actually do the work, what tools will be needed, will I need a new power supply and what about the BIOS. So far I've searched HP and ASUS's web sites and I have discovered that HP calls the motherboard an ASUS A8AE-LE and the ASUS web site does not even list this motherboard. ASUS is closed for the Chinese new year and my thinking is ASUS made this board, A8AE-LE is the correct name but, ASUS probably sells this motherboard as an exclusive to OEMs and support is only available thru HP. Hence if I need a new BIOS I may not find it at ASUS or HP. I haven't tried actually emailing ASUS to test the waters with them but, I have my feelings getting help in upgarding doesn't sell more equipment for HP or ASUS so I think I'm going to have to solve any and all problems for myself. I wonder why I think that? (This paragraph is runon because the linefeed function in SDC doesn't work for me and hasn't in quite awhile latest beta). Anyway my significant questions are, is a CPU upgrade feasible? Ultimately, I would like to add 1 GB of PC3200 memory, upgrade the CPU and put in a new graphics card such as an ATI x1300 pro. Any suggestions on what I need to do to make this happen?  
on Feb 21, 2007

Is your computer similar to this one? http://reviews.cnet.com/HP_Pavilion_a1230n_Athlon_64_3700_2_2_GHz/4507-3118_7-31518258.html?tag=sub

If so, the only question that really needs to be answered is the BIOS update, which may be needed to support the higher end processor. Receiving this information directly from HP would be the best avenue for confident upgrading.

Assuming you have an available 'PCI-express' slot like the linked machine does, then the video upgrade would probably entail the purchase of a power supply (minimum 350 watts, 400+ recommended).

Note - you will want to check the available space between the rear panel and the front drive cage inside the case to verify that the card will fit length-wise in the case.

The memory should not be a problem.

As a side note, the ASUS board is certainly built for the OEM market, and therefore ASUS may not be willing to provide any support.

One other option is to upgrade the same size ASUS motherboard for fairly cheap (which supports the processor you want) and you can remove the question on the BIOS and support completely. I believe the board you have is in the 'Micro-ATX' form factor. Here is one example of a good board by ASUS http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16813131040

Others may have better ideas.  

on Feb 21, 2007
Thanks Corky_O, thanks yrag. It sounds like all I have to do is A. Buy the CPU, B. buy the 1 GB of ram and C. buy the video card for PCI-X slot. I currently have an ATI x300 SE card with hypermemory in my PCI-X slot. Its been a good card and ATI has provided good support and drivers that's why I'm thinking stick with what's been working and buy an PCI-X ATI card with on-board memory and a fast VPU. I still need to figure out what size is the power supply that came with my PC. It did include a 200 GB SATA 7200 rpm drive so HP may have put in a solid power supply as well. What surprised me a bit with it is that it is the model you specified Corky_O, but for some reason maybe due to a CPU shortage it came with a 2.4 GHz 3800+ chip instead of the stated 2.2 GHz 3700+ chip. Thanks for the help. I'll let you guys know how it went and with a change in sound (it has the AC'97 Realtek onboard sound non VISTA compatible) I should be able to upgrade to VISTA sometime later this year when the dust settles more. Thanks again. Are they ever going to restore the line feed ability to the SDC browser. I have to type run-on paragraphs since there is no line feed working in SDC. Arrrgg.  
on Feb 21, 2007
Do not get 2 more 512 sticks. Get 2 1GB sticks. If you populate all four dimms, it will set your clock at 333 (vs 400). The 3700 flavor is an OEM...you lucked out.

so HP may have put in a solid power supply as well

It's probably a 300w. Go with a brand name and as much wattage as you can afford (no lower then 450).

AC'97 Realtek onboard sound non VISTA compatible

It's compatible.

WWW Link
on Feb 22, 2007
Thanks yrag. I had heard rumors that it wasn't and the VISTA test software from Microsoft flagged my Realtek onboard sound as an issue along with my Norton AV 2006 and Internet 2006. And, thanks for the advice on the memory I didn't know about getting 2 1 GB sticks. Any advice where and what brand? HP has only shown 512MB sticks and advised me to buy. They also said I should go with an ATX brand Power Supply is 500 watts enough?
on Feb 22, 2007
And thanks again yrag for the Realtek link. It will come in handy for sure.
on Feb 22, 2007
Any advice where and what brand?


Call them (a tech will answer the phone) or email -tell them what you have.
(M-F 9am to 5pm MST)
303-534-5306 (local)

This a good 500w modular (only uses the cables you need). If money isn't an issue, I'd go higher, but that's certainly adequate for this system. You might want to go higher insofar as future upgrades.

WWW Link