Dell Dimension L-Series and 2100 Processor Upgrade Information
compiled by Robert Hancock
Lxxxr, Lxxxcx and 2100 systems:
These systems use a Dell OEM version of the the Intel CA810E motherboard. You should be able to use any PPGA or FC-PGA Coppermine Pentium III (at least up to 933 MHz) or Celeron CPU in these systems.The newer Tualatin CPUs (1.13 GHz and up) will not work on these machines because of the different core voltages and bus signaling levels. Powerleap does have an adapter, the Neo/T, which should allow the use of Tualatin CPUs on these machines, but the one user I know has tried it reported they weren't able to get it to work.
Intel's information for the board suggests that you can only use 1 GHz Pentium III CPUs if the last 3 digits of the AA number on your motherboard are 309 or higher, otherwise the most you can use is 933. However, given Intel's rather over-conservative recommendations for other boards, it's quite possible a 1 GHz would work anyway even if your AA number is not in this range. (And even if your board is "supposed" to be approved for the 1 GHz, the AA number may be different just because it's a Dell OEM board and not an Intel-branded board.)
Note that the memory in these systems runs at at most 100 MHz regardless of what the CPU's bus speed is.
For reference, the list of changes in all Dell BIOS versions for this system is available here. If you have a BIOS version earlier than A12 and want to upgrade the processor, I recommend you upgrade to the latest BIOS version, currently A14.
The differences among these models are as follows: L___r systems come with a FC-PGA Pentium III processor. L___cx systems come with a FC-PGA Celeron processor running at 66 MHz bus. Dimension 2100 machines use an FC-PGA Pentium III at 100 or 133 MHz bus speed, or an FC-PGA Celeron at 100 MHz bus speed. As far as I know there are no differences between these machines besides the processor they originally came with.
L___cxe systems come with a FC-PGA Celeron processor running at either a 66 MHz or 100 MHz bus. The BIOS on these machines appears to report the board being a CA810E, but the PCI device IDs for the chipset appear to indicate it has an original 810 chipset, not an 810E. If that's the case, then these machines can only run 100 MHz bus processors, not 133 MHz. To add to the confusion, Dell's specs page for these machines lists them as coming with an "Intel Celeron™ processor that runs at 700 or 800 MHz internally and 100 MHz externally", but there is no such thing as a Celeron-700 with a 100 MHz bus!
Assuming that these machines do use the original 810 chipset, then you should be able to use FC-PGA Celeron - and presumably Pentium III - CPUs with a 66 or 100 MHz bus.
The L___cxe machines use the same BIOS as the L___r, L___cx and 2100 machines above.
These systems use a Dell OEM version of the Intel CA810 motherboard. They should all be able to run any PPGA Celeron CPU.
FC-PGA Celeron and Pentium III CPUs are more problematic. According to Intel, only some revisions of this motherboard support FC-PGA processors. See here for more info. I don't know if the AA numbers given correspond to those on Dell boards, however, so you might not able to tell whether your board supports FC-PGA chips from these numbers. I would say that if the AA number on your board doesn't fall into the ranges listed on that page, it's probably safe to assume your board doesn't support it. The physical socket is the same for PPGA and FC-PGA, but some of the pinouts were changed so an FC-PGA chip will not boot up in a system that doesn't support them. If your board doesn't support FC-PGA chips, though, you may want to look into the PowerLeap Neo S370, which allows you to install FC-PGA chips in a Socket 370 board which only supports PPGA Celerons.
133 MHz bus Pentium IIIs cannot be used in these systems even with such an adapter. In theory, 100 MHz bus Pentium IIIs and 66 (and possibly 100?) MHz Celerons can be used. However, it seems that with the Dell BIOS, the system won't support 100 MHz bus speed chips even with the Powerleap adapter, so you'd be limited to a Celeron up to 766 MHz. If you force-flash to the standard Intel CA810 BIOS by using the BIOS recovery method, similar to that described on the D-series page, it might overcome this limitation, but I don't know if anyone has tried this. This is a risky step - you may not be able to go back to the Dell BIOS if you have problems.
For reference, the list of changes in all Dell BIOS versions for this system is available here. If you have a BIOS version earlier than A04 and want to upgrade the processor, I recommend you upgrade to the latest BIOS version, currently A05.