Raiders of the Outdated Systems (was: So, I acquired an outdated, but interesting looking PC the other day...)


Not sure if this really belonged here, or in Opinions & Experiences (Legacy)...

So, I had a pile of old electronics (cordless landline phone, fax machine, an ancient all-in-one computer with no RAM or storage, etc etc) that I found the township will simply take in a specific recycling trailer they have, no charge.

Cool, I thought, I'll bring it all over. They also take old cables, etc.

As I was dumping my crap, I stumbled across this one PC with no side panel... I was confused at first, but then realized it was either Slot 1 or Slot A, and, so I left it there.

Then I found an HP tower, and, while it seemed to have some fine dirt (sort of light brown, desert-color) scattered all over it, the case seemed almost flawless. No dents, no immediately visible scratches, even. I noted Windows 7 stickers on it. I figured if I could boot it up, I could probably stick a drive in, update it to Windows 10, and snag the digital OS license.

I used the house key to loosen up the screw that's sort of like a thumbscrew, but too small and smooth for that, really, and was a combination of flat-blade screwdriver, and torx head.

Pulled the panel off, and saw a machine that had surprisingly little dust in it. I a hard drive, and, interestingly, a DVD RAM drive. There's a CPU and cooler, a PSU, and RAM. Cool, if I can get it to fire up, I've got myself a free Windows 10 license. I'll take it home.

Then I paused... "I just pulled off the RIGHT side of the case, not the LEFT side.. WTF?" Took it home, cleaned off the case (it didn't take much), and took a better look at what I'd acquired.

Note the plastic film still never removed from the lower half of the front panel.




Note the single stick of RAM (it's 4GB). Also, the HDD is a Hitachi Deskstar, 1TB. And, the CPU hidden beneath is a Phenom II X2 521.


Weirdly, I can't seem to find a proper diagram or really much info at all on this MB. Even searches that lead to HP's site give me a 404 error.

250W max, 218 on the 12V rails. Needless to say, no PCIe connector. Still, I imagine this PSU is "useful" for basic testing of low-end systems. Oddly, despite being 20-pin, it has that 4-pin EPS connector.

I have no idea why this thing makes me giggle, or that I'm so delighted with having acquired it. I booted it up, and it already had Windows 10 installed. Also, uh, single-user, no password protection. I went in just to check the Windows 10 license. While it was an outdated enough version of Win10 that the system was saying it was a "digital entitlement" instead of "digital license," that was all I really needed. I wiped it, installed the current version of Win10 off USB (with that existing old HDD, and it behaved just fine), and put my MS account as administrator. Now it's a digital license tied to my MS account.

Between the vents on the side, and the inverted layout, I don't know how good/bad the cooling and airflow are. There's a single case fan in the back in a direct line from the CPU, and the PSU exhaust fan.

I was thinking I wanted just the OS license, but I don't remember what DVD-RAM is (I knew at one point, maybe a dozen or so years ago), and the Hitachi Deskstar has, unlike the IBM Deskstar, a good reputation, if I recall correctly. The CPU is, from what I gather, outdone even by my Haswell Pentium G3220.

I am not sure how to arrange another fan in this thing. I think it's a standard mATX board size, and the HDD can be moved to under the optical drive. The bottom HDD cage is removable, I believe.

Still, even the case might be useful. If I could suss out the front panel connector/plug on the MB, this would be a zero-cost case for a super-budget basic system or a test-bed.
My (still in use) Silverstone PS07 (same internally as the TJ08E) is also inverted.

A couple fun things that the inverted layout affords is:
  • the ability to include a retractable "kickstand" on the floor of the case to support tower coolers.

  • The end of the GPU is supported on the (removable) front drive cage so you don't have to worry about card warping.
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I've seen a few of those models, they were built when "multimedia" was a big catchphrase people loved to use so had a lot of media options like the DVD players that were behind hidden swing open doors.
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