Preparing For a Dual-Processor PC
Know what you're getting into...

By, Marco “BigWop” Chiappetta
1 / 11 / 2001

Well, we’ve been talking about mounting all these extras in your case but we haven’t actually mentioned what kind of case to put them in!  Do yourself a favor and take our advice on this one…you’re going to want to use a full tower.  You’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you use a cramped mid or mini tower.

Ok, by now you've got your nice big case loaded with fans and well ventilated.  To further insure cool, reliable operation of your hardware heat has to be pulled away from each component.  Using high quality heatsinks and fans is by far the easiest most popular way to do this.  

There are many more "exotic" methods available today like refrigeration units, peltiers and water cooling but we opted for the "ol standby", a pair of Alpha PAL6035s. (Thanks again Outside Loop!) When mounting the coolers, we'll be using Artic Silver thermal epoxy.  One of the most important and also most overlooked steps when mounting a heatsink is using a high quality interface material.  If you opt not to use a good thermal interface material like thermal grease, you are crippling the performance of your coolers.  

With all of the extra calls being sent through the Northbridge on a dual processor rig, taking extra steps to cool it is also a good idea.  The Abit VP6 shipped with a small passive heatsink mounted on the Northbridge.  We'll be pulling that off in favor of an active unit we recycled from an older 486 system...

We removed the "stock" heatsink from the VP6's Northbridge and cleaned it off thoroughly with some alcohol.  We then installed a piece of thermal tape on the Northbridge and stuck our active cooler to it...

That's all there is to it.  With this active cooler installed, we're sure to have increased stability and a better chance of hitting higher clockspeeds should we decide to over-clock.

We've taken some special considerations with our hardware but with a dual-cpu rig, the software and OS used are crucial.  Windows 9x users need not apply because Microsoft's "home" OS does not offer support for multi-processors.  As of today Windows 2000 and Linux are the best choices of multi-processor compatible OSes.   We will be using Windows 2000 on our rig.  

Before you install your OS, make a list of your peripherals because there is still much work to be done.  Scour the net and be sure to download the most recent drivers for your hardware that will be operating with your new OS.  We grabbed drivers for our video card, sound card, NIC, modem, SCSI card, printer, chipset, mouse and keyboard.  This is a tedious task but a much needed step. In general you're overall performance an compatibility will be much better if you use the newest drivers designed for the OS. 

It's also a good idea to make a list of your favorite applications and check their websites for any updates or patches that may be needed to use the software with a different OS.  Also keep in mind that only multi-threaded applications can take advantage of your second CPU.  Not every piece of software you run will benefit from the extra horsepower.

That's all we have for you today.  Our goal was not to go in-depth into setting up a dual-processor rig, but rather just give a general outline of the steps that should be taken.  I had done most of  these things to prepare for our review and it never occurred to me that this information could be useful to some users.  Be sure to check back here in a few days.  We'll be posting our full review of the Abit VP6 using two un-locked 1GHz. PIIIs!  This rig is smokin'!


To HotHardware!