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OK, so I'm guessing that it's dead. It's not my machine, and the owner is on a very fixed (IE, none) income. I'm generous, but I'm not that generous, since I already gave him what (at the time) was a fully functional and fairly well-equipped machine. (Aside from the mobo and proc, almost nothing else in it was stock. I'd taken it up to 3GB of RAM, upgraded the hard drive, added a decent video card, installed a wireless adapter, running Vista, etc.)

According to further research, the machine uses a Micro-BTX (uBTX) motherboard, and since it's an AMD Athlon64, the AM2 socket.

So I'm looking at a few options, and am wondering what's the best route to take?

  • Find an AM2 socket uBTX mobo. I can't find them new online anywhere, leading me to believe that this is an obsolete form factor/chip combination. I don't want a refurb or a system pull because, quite honestly, once I deal with this mess, I don't want to go through it again in another year or two.
  • Find an Intel uBTX mobo and a (relatively -- hah, I still want at least a dual-core) inexpensive Intel CPU. At this point, the only things stock in the machine would be the case and the PSU. :)
  • Buy a bare-bones kit (mobo/proc/PSU/case, sometimes even RAM) from somewhere like CompUSA/TigerDirect or Fry's and move all of the other hardware over. This makes life difficult because the copy of Vista is an upgrade, tied to the copy of XP which shipped on the Gateway, which is OEM and won't install on the new box. :)

If I change the CPU brand (AMD to Intel), will I need to reinstall Windows, or can it just be reactivated?

Where can I actually find a new, in-box, not system pull, not refurb AM2 uBTX mobo? Do they even exist anymore? What kind of money are we talking (US dollars)?

The end goal is to get the machine functional again as cheaply as humanly possible. If it were my own machine, I wouldn't even be asking this, I'd be custom-building a new one. However, it's not mine, I'm shelling out of pocket for the fix (plus the work), and thus want to keep that end price low-low-low.

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"This makes life difficult because the copy of Vista is an upgrade, tied to the copy of XP which shipped on the Gateway, which is OEM and won't install on the new box." Microsoft has a stipulation... Upgrades are tied to the OS they upgrade, and OEMs are tied to the MOBO... If the MOBO dies, phone Microsoft, and a lot of times they'll allow it to be transferred to a new MOBO, and the upgrade will still work fine on the transferred OEM. As for whether you need to reinstall for a new CPU, They should be Plug and Play. –  Sivvy Dec 15 '09 at 15:49
    
The only catch is, you may need to find a MOBO that is somewhat similar, and not much of an upgrade... They won't allow you to transfer on a upgrade. I'm not sure what their stance is on obsolete tech. –  Sivvy Dec 15 '09 at 15:51
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Cheap uBTX Motherboards

Typed "Purchase uBTX Motherboard" into Dogpile.com, and that was the second link. They look pretty cheap... Just remember... If you get a board that is similar or equivilent, Microsoft will sometimes allow you to transfer your OEM... If it's an upgrade, they normally shun that kind of thing.

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This is a stupid question, but understand I'm a software guy who stopped building machines a decade ago: Is there a difference between uBTX and BTX? –  John Rudy Dec 15 '09 at 17:19
    
I'm a software guy too, so I'm not an expert by any means. I'd have to assume the difference is the same as uATX to ATX... A few inches smaller in size. –  Sivvy Dec 15 '09 at 20:24
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en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_computer_form_factors BTX - 325mm×266mm uBTX - 264mm×267mm –  Sivvy Dec 15 '09 at 20:27
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If I change the CPU brand (AMD to Intel), will I need to reinstall Windows, or can it just be reactivated?

You will probably need to reinstall. If the CPU arch doesn't do you in, drivers specific to the old motherboard will.

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