First post, by triggerhappy
Hi everyone 😀
your site popped up more than once while figuring out stuff that I've long since forgotten about. My first PC was a Commodore PC-20-II and as such I've lived through many PC architectures.
When I turned 18 I started working for a household appliance store and the two main brands of PC's they stocked were Compaq and Packard Bell.
The Compaqs never held much appeal for me but although the software was as bloated as a river corpse and you could probably (surely) build a more impressive gaming rig for less money, there was something about a nicely styled, complete setup with a rich software package that appealed to me. Sadly, the salary they paid me for working there didn't earn me enough to actually afford one.
The iXtreme 8110 RW was the most expensive model we stocked when I first started out there. The base 8105 RW had a P3 with 866mhz, 128 megs, a 40gb drive, DVD and CDRW.
Video was powered by a GF2 MX with 32 megs, onboard audio and LAN. Screen options were a 17 or 19" CRT or a 15" TFT. All options came with screen mounted speakers, webcam, a headset, mouse and keyboard and a fat stack of CD's and software titles. If you bought the (even) more expensive 8110 'dream machine' edition they upped the specs to 1000mhz/256mb/60gb and included a TV tuner card.
And this is what it would look like put together:
I was scouring the web and found the case online (which is what started the whole endeavour). Quickly though I found out when dissassembling the case the original hardware had been replaced at some point, so I'm stuck with just the case. The one upside is that apart from the top cover (which is plastic and I can retrobright) none of the plastics are yellowed.
Soo0... not so much for gaming reasons (because then it'd be way easier to pick the best parts and leave it at that) but more for nostalgia's sake (it was my first full time job and I was so proud wearing a shirt and tie selling this stuff) I would very much like to restore this set. Problem is... the brand has all but dissappeared. Yes Packard Bell still exists but only as a label for other companies' stuff. And because it was also very local to the Benelux not many of them are still around. I certainly can't find any parts online anymore, even abroad. The site is gone and whatever documentation used to be available, it seems to have evaporated. It was an unlucky period... not old enough yet to preserve for future generations but also not fast/interesting/remarkable enough to live on until today.
So I went with plan B: approximation. I sourced a generic Asus CUSL2-C mainboard with a 933mhz P3 that I overclocked t0 1000mhz (cleaned the cooling and refreshed thermal paste to be sure).
I went with PC133, 256MB ram and already found a Hercules GF2 MX 32mb card that is in shipping right now. Issues arise, however. Firstly:
- Drive is missing, so in lieu of goose-chasing whatever drive it should/could have had I purchased a second-hand 200gb 7200rpm drive (a bit of speed won't hurt) that I'll just partition appropriately
- This board has no audio (I've found an Audigy 2 card that I will use for the time being, for a second reason other than sound:
- This board has no firewire! I ordered a pin header - to - firewire 6-pin plug bridge so I can connect the internal header from the facia to the Audigy in the back so as to have a working FireWire port on the front
- The case header for USB is a double row header that I have to split out individually to fit the 2 seperate headers on the board (but the header layout is funky, have to dig into that)
- I don't have the original restore disks, nor would they work with generic hardware, so other than a random PB themes background there is nothing PB about it
- I'm missing all of the peripherals (screen, webcam, speakers, headset, keyboard/mouse etc)
- I'm missing the original DVD and CDRW drives (though a general retrobrighted drive would't be the biggest issue)
- I don't even know where to begin sourcing the TV tuner and accompanying software
+ Upside: I managed to download and burn an OEM Windows ME disk and that actually installed with the OEM code on the case so there's that
So what kind of help am I looking for? Any, basically... documentation, sales material/folders, software, specs on any of the used internal/external hardware, pictures... up to and including actual parts. The series hasn't been produced for very long and was quickly superseded by the full dark green facia models that sported the P4 line (2.4ghz and such) with GF 2 MX 440 cards (64 and 128mb models). The series before it were basic white cases though usually with funky curves, but no distincs color patterns. This series was unique in that regard.
I think they used PB as a European Brand and rebranded stuff Gateway in other parts of the world. This would only apply to the hardware though, case design was completely different.
Currently, I'm in the process of making the usb/firewire headers work with what I have (remove the plastic header and isolating the seperate wires for correct connection the board) and retrobrighting the yellow plastics (I have a DVD player, burner and 2 floppy drives that will go in there). Once the new disk and gpu/audio come in and I finish the retrobright I'll put it together like this because it'll probably be a while before I source any other parts and this way I can at least use it as a retro game machine slash jumpbox to create floppies and transfer stuff on older media that my W10 rig doesn't support anymore.
I would be so happy to actually get this in original condition again. The hardware I've sourced for now will only enable me to build a spec-like one and I'm using an Acer 15" TFT for now just to have it up and running. The original mainboard and stuff + software would obviously be a much better choice, so I'm not making any permanent changes to the case in case I do find them at some point.
Anything you have to share - you are welcome 😀.