First post, by reodraca
Hello. New to Vogons (at least as a member), so I figured this would be an appropriate first post since it's awesome retro goodness.
I recently came across this HP Vectra XU in need of some tlc. Please forgive the dust: Allergies + horrid weather = delayed cleaning.
A couple of weeks ago, I went about replacing the power supply's fan, as all but 2 of its blades had somehow gotten torn off and were all over the inside (I suspect a kid stuck a screwdriver into mommy or daddy's workstation a number of years ago). Surprisingly, it works fine. Sadly, I forgot to snap a photo of that project. Furthermore, the CPU fan was grinding and I was about to replace it when I realized that someone had installed it backwards, drawing air in rather than pushing it out. Flipping it back over caused the grinding to stop.
Today, I found a dual Socket 8 daughtercard that was pulled from an IBM server. It had a 200 MHz Pentium Pro with 256k cache with matching steppings to the one in my Vectra, and it also had the appropriate 5-volt VRM module. Here's the daughtercard, of which I am pointing at where I pulled the processor and VRM:
While I would've loved to use that pair of 64 MB RAM sticks that came with the daughtercard, and while they seem to be same type and voltage as the RAM in my Vectra (FPM or EDO, ECC FB-DIMM, 3.3v), the key in the middle of the sticks somehow didn't match up with the Vectra's slots. Then again, I could be completely wrong about the RAM types, but it seems weird to me either way. Oh well. I still got a second Pentium Pro installed. Besides, 96 MB (a pair of original HP/Samsung-branded 16's and a pair of after-market 32's someone upgraded this system with years ag0) is more than enough for NT4 Workstation.
Here's the pair of Pentium Pro's with their VRM's, all set up and ready to go:
I know that the VRM's don't match, but as HP was one of the first (if not THE first) major PC makers to build with the Pentium Pro, they used Intel reference VRM's. As long as it's 5v input and a variable 2.1-3.5v output with around 11 amps (for the 256k cache variants), it works. The electrical tape is because the capacitor tips touch the back of the case, since it is a tiny bit wider than the one the Vectra came with. Also, I'll take photos of the board itself without the heatsinks when I get my hands on some more thermal paste. I'm in between tubes at the moment.
Next up was the hard drive, as this system arrived without one (although, thankfully, the tray was included with its screws taped to it). The best drive this system shipped with in its day was a 4 GB SCSI, and I think it was either a 5400 or 7200 RPM, so what did I do? Threw in a drive with twice the space and even more speed, because why not? Enter the Quantum Atlas 10k:
Whisper-quiet bearings, too. Woot! 9.1 GB.
After reinstalling Windows NT 4.0, this is the lovely screen I was greeted with:
2 System Processors. Multiprocessor Kernel. This is what a mid-90's NT workstation is supposed to say. It just seemed naked and sad before, when all it said was 'Uniprocessor.'
I paid $180 for the Vectra and $80 for the IBM daughtercard. The satisfaction of having a dual Pentium Pro workstation, however, is priceless.
HP really makes some excellent workstations. One of these days, I'll get my hands on a ZX6000 for Itanium 2 bragging rights, but for now, a pair of Pentium Pro's is awesome enough.
This system is a real workhorse: Wicked fast and highly capable for what it was designed for in its day, extremely hardy and reliable, and it just looks badass. Its longevity is also phenomenal. I also find it pretty cool that this system essentially gave way to the Kayak series, as this was HP's most powerful Intel-based workstation made a year prior to the Kayak line's introduction. The top-of-the-line Kayaks (XA, XU, XW) used this same case (although with a few refinements, like sticking a fan next to the giant speaker beneath the triple-5.25 bay and in front of the drive bays in later iterations).