Last September one of my desktop machines died and I bought a new Windows 7 machine to replace it. Today I brought it back to life again by transplanting a motherboard from an old case that I had been using as my previous Linux server. The replacement board is a VIA MM3500 (also known as VIA PC3500), with a 1.5 GHz VIA C7 CPU, 2 GB of DDR2 RAM and on-board video. It still has two IDE connectors as well as two SATA connectors, allowing me to use both my old DVD and parallel ATA HD drives, as well as newer high capacity SATA drives.
After the motherboard swap I had to reactivate Windows XP because it detected a major change in hardware. Most of the hardware of the new board worked immediately, I could boot and had Internet access without any reconfiguration. When I started with the new machine. I just had to increase video resolution from the default 640×480 to get some dialogs working.
I then downloaded drivers for the mother board and video from the VIA website. I now have the proper CN896 (Chrome IGP9) video driver working too.
When I tested the board as a server with dual 1 TB drives (RAID1), it was drawing 41W at idle. Running in my eMachines T6212 case with a single PATA hard drive it draws 38W at idle.
Before removing the old motherboard I made a note of all the cable connections on both motherboards. The front-mounted USB ports and card reader have corresponding internal cables, which connected to spare on-board USB connectors. The analog sound connectors connect to the motherboard too. The only port at the front left unconnected was the IEEE-1394 (FireWire / iLink) port, which has no counterpart on the VIA board.
It feels great to have my old, fully configured machine with all its data and applications back thanks to a cheap motherboard that works flawlessly.