I'd like to relate my very positive (and painless) experience upgrading an old P4PE/P4 system using an ASRock 4CoreDual - Sata2 /E2140 setup
First some background:
As I was nearly done building my new HTPC (a DS3P/OCed E2180/Gigabyte8600 system running Vista Home Premium and otherwise similar to Spcr's 'system 1'), my old rig (Asus P4PE/P4 at 2.66G/Saphire9600 running XP SP2 Pro) died on me.
After spending most of the weekend trying to recover the data (top tip: stay away from 'dynamic' disks
), I decided to try ASRock's low cost offering to recycle the old machine with a cheap and cheerful processor.
I just swapped the motherboard, put in place the processor and bundled fan, and plugged everything back. To my surprise the sytem booted right away, and after installing the chipset drivers, and reactivating XP automatically, I got everything (TT, AccessDTV, SCSI card, Maudio 410, Meedio, Girder, etc) working as before in less than an hour (including time for some mild overclocking by setting the FSB to 266MHz)!
It's not as quite as fast as my new and super quiet system, but it is a very significant improvement over the old one, and given the effort put into this system, was a very cost effective upgrade. I'm sure there is more to gain by reinstalling everything and by some further overclocking, but I'm impressed by how easy the whole thing has been.
The pros of this upgrade are:
* Low cost (only need a CPU and Motherboard)
* Significant performance improvement in terms of speed, heat, etc.
* Support of legacy components (4 PATA connectors, serial, parallel, PS/2, 4PCIs, memory -dual channel or not-)
* Room for later upgrades (PCIe, DDR2)
The drawbacks are:
* Only 2 memory slots
* No Firewire (but Firewire PCI cards are cheap)
* Only two SATA2 ports
* Limited overclocking (it seems that the FSB is limited to around 300MHz)
My only regret is to have waited so long to do this!