|Processor||Pentium III (Coppermine) @ 866 MHz|
|Memory||384 MB (3x128 MB)||512 MB (2x128 MB, 1x256MB PC133 SDRAM)|
|Hard Drive||20 GB Maxtor IDE||45 GB IBM Deskstar IDE|
|Graphics||nVidia TNT2 RIVA (integrated AGP)|
|Sound||AC'97 (integrated) w/ integrated speaker|
|Network||Intel PRO/100 (integrated)|
Personally, this is retro nostalgia for me because it was the system everyone had back at my first job in computers. I was only 15 years old back in 2000, but I got to work at a company that did IT contract work. Everyone had a Deskpro EN SFF on their desk with a nice Compaq CRT sitting on top of it.
I admire the system for its compact form factor and clever case design that makes working on it much easier than a lot of systems from that era.
I never had one of my own, but I've always had a fondness for them. I saw one on eBay with a great configuration and a steal of a price ($40 shipped) and I bought it immediately.
One thing I love about this system is that it has an integrated speaker. Not just a "PC speaker" that beeps, but a properly amplified real speaker. This is great for simple alert sounds, listening to a message, a small video, things like that. These systems were mostly designed for use in offices where having a set of desktop speakers is expensive and a waste of space given what they're usually used for. As a retro machine I don't use often, it's pleasing to hear the Windows startup sounds and alert without having to hook up speakers.
In the late 90s it was not a common thing to have front-panel audio jacks. This system has a headphone and microphone jack there and of course when you plug in headphones this cuts off the internal speaker.
It sports the Intel 815 chipset which limits you to 512 MB of RAM, but then supports a Tualatin Pentium III up tp 1.4 GHz.
As a business-oriented PC, it's got an integrated 10/100 Mbit NIC. This was not so common on PCs in the 1990s. Typically you'd have to buy a PCI expansion card if you wanted the luxury of LAN access. This has the Intel PRO/100 integrated. Handy.
It has a PXE boot ROM, so you can boot off your system off of your LAN if you have a PXE server setup. I do have one setup, and it works great. I can press F12 during boot, select the LAN as my boot device, and run Linux live CDs, memtest, install Linux.
I always like an up-to-date BIOS. This system supports flashing the BIOS via a Windows app which is very cool. So after installing Windows 2000 I upgraded the BIOS.
It looked like the system was upgraded by its previous owner from 128 to 384 MB of RAM. This was fine, but I wanted to max out the system. It has 3 PC133 DIMM slots, but because of the Intel 815 chipset, the system is limited to 512 MB of RAM. Of course I tried 768 MB anyway, but system refused to boot with an error message you don't see often: that there's too much memory installed.
The Deskpro EN optionally came with an nVidia TNT2 Riva graphics chip embedded on the motherboard. I was lucky and my system had this. It's a pretty decent little chip as the predecessor to the GeForce 256. It's integrated as an AGP device, and this is the only AGP bus on the system so any graphics card upgrades would have to go into one of the three PCI slots.
The system came with a Maxtor 20 GB drive. The first time I turned it on, it sounded like some rusted iron plates spinning around. I binned that drive immediately and replaced it with a spare IBM Deskstar 60 GB I had lying around.
I did buy a SCSI controller (Adaptec AHA-2940UW, naturally) for the system. The problem is that the interior is so cramped that I'd need a tiny SCSI cable to not completely obstruct airflow, and those seem to not really exist. The system has the IDE cables routed and folded nicely so that they don't get in the way. So, I'm sticking with that for now.
I have it in my mind to get a PCI SATA controller and 2.5" (laptop) HDD. That would give performance comparable to SCSI without making a mess of the interior.
The system came with a bog standard CD-ROM drive which I would have happily kept. Unfortunately the drive tray has a really hard time ejecting. I had to use a paperclip to pop it open. I opened up the drive and the drive belt seems ok, so maybe the motor is just on its last leg? I needed a working drive to install Windows, so I put a Lite-On CD-RW drive in there. Works fine, but it's a bit yellowed and doesn't match the bezel.
The system shipped with Windows 2000, as evidenced by the license and CD key sticker affixed to the case. As that's my favourite operating system, that's what I installed.
Just for fun, I also installed Linux. Some Linux distributions are starting to
drop support for the
i386 architecture which is understandable but a shame.
Fortunately there's a community-maintained distribution of Arch Linux 32-bit.
I've installed that using i3 as my window manager since it's so lightweight.
Modern browsers however do not work. They all hard crash with
My suspicion is that they're compiled expecting the
SSE2 instruction which was not
present until the Pentium 4.
H/W path Device Class Description =========================================================== system Deskpro /0 bus 0680h /0/1 memory 128KiB BIOS /0/5 processor Pentium III (Coppermine) /0/5/6 memory 32KiB L1 cache /0/5/7 memory 256KiB L2 cache /0/21 memory System Memory /0/21/0 memory 128MiB DIMM SDRAM Synchronous 133 MHz (7.5 ns) /0/21/1 memory 128MiB DIMM SDRAM Synchronous 133 MHz (7.5 ns) /0/21/2 memory 256MiB DIMM SDRAM Synchronous 133 MHz (7.5 ns) /0/22 memory Flash Memory /0/22/0 memory 512KiB Chip FLASH Non-volatile /0/0 memory /0/2 memory /0/100 bridge 82815 815 Chipset Host Bridge and Memory Controller Hub /0/100/1 bridge 82815 815 Chipset AGP Bridge /0/100/1/0 display NV5 [Riva TNT2 / TNT2 Pro] /0/100/1e bridge 82801 PCI Bridge /0/100/1e/8 enp2s8 network 82801BA/BAM/CA/CAM Ethernet Controller /0/100/1e/a scsi0 storage AIC-7870P/7881U [AHA-2940U/UW/D/S76] /0/100/1f bridge 82801BA ISA Bridge (LPC) /0/100/1f.1 storage 82801BA IDE U100 Controller /0/100/1f.4 bus 82801BA/BAM UHCI USB 1.1 Controller #2 /0/100/1f.4/1 usb1 bus UHCI Host Controller /0/100/1f.4/1/2 bus USB 1.1 2 port downstream low-power hub /0/100/1f.4/1/2/3 input IBM USB Travel Keyboard with Ultra Nav /0/100/1f.5 multimedia 82801BA/BAM AC'97 Audio Controller /0/3 scsi1 storage /0/3/0.0.0 /dev/sda disk 61GB IC35L060AVVA07-0 /0/3/0.0.0/1 /dev/sda1 volume 19GiB Windows NTFS volume /0/3/0.0.0/2 /dev/sda2 volume 37GiB Extended partition /0/3/0.0.0/2/5 /dev/sda5 volume 36GiB EXT4 volume /0/3/0.0.0/2/6 /dev/sda6 volume 508MiB Linux swap volume /0/4 scsi2 storage /0/4/0.0.0 /dev/cdrom disk LTR-40125S