Whenever I’m working on my computer, Joy calls the motherboard and/or CPU “the brain” of the machine. Well, Wednesday night my order arrived from NewEgg with a new brain for my desktop at home. When I built my machine last year, I used an Intel D975XBX motherboard, which was supposed to support the new Core 2 Duo processors when they were released. However, it turned out that there was some kind of voltage problem running the new C2D processors on the board, so Intel eventually released a new version, creatively named the D975XBX2.

I ordered the new motherboard and a C2D processor (E6600 for those keeping score at home), and I was hoping to be able to switch the motherboard and processor out without needing to reinstall the operating system. The motherboards are quite similar (but not exactly the same), so I thought I at least had a chance of getting things to work. I couldn’t find anything online where anyone had swapped out the two motherboards, but I decided to take my chances all the same.

The first thing I did was split my RAID 1 mirrors back into separate disks. I didn’t know how my RAID setup would work from one motherboard to the other, so I decided splitting the mirrors was the safest thing to do. Then I cracked open the case and swapped out the motherboard and processor, which wasn’t too terribly difficult since the boards are physically arranged the same way. I booted into the BIOS setup and configured the settings for the new board to be identical to how I had the old board set. And then I booted up the machine to see what would happen. XP started right up just as if nothing had changed, which was really nice to see.

XP picked up everything on the motherboard without any complaints. I had to reinstall newer versions of a few of the Intel software packages once XP was up and running, mainly the Desktop Utilities package and the Matrix RAID Console. Once I had the new RAID Console installed, I was able to rebuild both of my mirrors without any problems at all.

The main reason I wanted to swap the processor (other than the always appreciated speed increase) was because my previous processor (a D930) always ran pretty hot. It idled around 60C and just went up from there under load. The new C2D idles between 34C and 36C. I used an Intel tool to run the CPU at 100% load for 30 minutes and the temperature never went above 59C. So the old processor idled at the same temperature as the new processor under full load. Nice! I’m sure part of that is the difference between a D930 and a C2D, but another part of it is likely because I used an Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro CPU cooler instead of the stock Intel cooler I used on the old D930. I’m not sure which made the bigger difference, but I’m very happy with the results.