I have the opposite situation. My hardware is too new. 6870 Radeon, intel Core i5. Doesn't work right. But, I'm running inside of VirtualBox and it abstracts all that hardware away. It even supports 3D with a guest addition to expose that to OpenGL. My desktop right now in front of me is composited with compiz and plays video, wobbly windows and all just fine.
I know there are barriers when you go to upgrade old hardware: change piece A and you need to change piece B and such, but, really, leave it at a text console as a server or just pick up a cheap $299 laptop that a modern Linux will run just fine with intel video drivers. Intel video drivers over the years surprisingly have given me the fewest issues and they support compiz just fine too.