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Upgrade Advice on Dell Studio XPS-7100

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November 5, 2013 10:37:55 AM

Howdy.


70% of the time, I use my computer for internet, accounting software, word processing, and the like. I watch movies on it, etc. It works fine for all of that.

My motivation to upgrade right now is so it runs the games I currrently play better. I play Civ V, Europa Universalis IV, the Total Wars series, and Team Fortress. I play them all on the lowest settings.

I’m ready to upgrade the RAM to 8GB, and not sure if it’s possible or smart to upgrade the processor on it. I’m assuming not, so I guess my main focus is on whether I can get a significant performance increase with a video card upgrade that fits my system.


Unless there is some reason to wait, then I’m ready to order it as soon as I figure out what to get. Budget is flexible but I don’t think I want to pay much more beyond $150 for the video card unless it can be transferred to a new system whenever I replace it in a year or two.


It has to run two monitors, and would be great if it ran 3. Not an expert on hardware, etc. If it’s really easy, then I can do it. I understand I may need to upgrade the power supply and, if that’s not too difficult, then I’m all for it.


--
Dell Studio XPS-7100
RAM: 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) (2 free slots that I intend to add another 4GB to (2x2GB)
Graphics Card: AMD Radeon HD 5450
Monitor: AOC 2752 - 1920x1080, DELL 1800FP
Processor: 3.00 gigahertz AMD Phenom II X4 945
Mother Board: Dell Inc. 0NWWY0 A00, Bus Clock: 200 megahertz
Power Supply: 460W

Please let me know what other information you need. Thank you!
November 5, 2013 11:55:34 AM

Please complete the third paragraph.
Please also tell us how much of your money you'd like us to spend for you. ;) 
Open up the system and see how many (if any) PCI-E leads the PSU has. Dell units are usually very good quality BTW so, depending on requirements (including budget) an upgraded unit may not be needed.
Good choice for 'less intensive' gaming would be a HD7750/GTX650. Neither requires an external power lead to function (some GTX 650s do but it's not a problem) and will run happily off the existing PSU. A GTX 650 that DOES need an external power lead will run using the molex/PCI-E 'Y' converter that will be supplied with the card.
November 5, 2013 12:43:36 PM

Thanks for reply. I finished the third paragraph.. ".. my main focus is on whether I can get a significant performance increase with a video card upgrade that fits my system."


I could spend about $150 on the video card, but it's whatever you think makes sense given my system.

I don't know what PCI-E leads are. I saw that it is a Delta DPS-460DB-4A PSU though. http://


Can/should I upgrade my processor? And I'm assuming that 8GB RAM is more than enough, but I could get 12 if not. You mentioned low-intensity gaming, which is indeed usually what I do. But...

I would like to be able to play some of the better First Person Shooters like Modern Warfare, Call of Duty, and whatever else people are playing these days. I haven't played them because they've been too choppy and slow for me to do well at. This is a very low priority, but if it can be done with my current system then I’d like that.

I would be happy with a significant performance increase for <$200 though.
coozie7 said:

Please complete the third paragraph.
Please also tell us how much of your money you'd like us to spend for you. ;) 
Open up the system and see how many (if any) PCI-E leads the PSU has. Dell units are usually very good quality BTW so, depending on requirements (including budget) an upgraded unit may not be needed.
Good choice for 'less intensive' gaming would be a HD7750/GTX650. Neither requires an external power lead to function (some GTX 650s do but it's not a problem) and will run happily off the existing PSU. A GTX 650 that DOES need an external power lead will run using the molex/PCI-E 'Y' converter that will be supplied with the card.
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November 5, 2013 2:23:19 PM

The PCI-E slot itself can provide 75Watts through its power connections, if the card needs more it will require 1 or 2 extra power leads from the PSU-faster the card, the more power it needs.
Good news is that the current PSU should be up to your needs and has dual 6 pin PCI-E leads (the yellow and black lines) bottom photo: http://www.amazon.com/Genuine-Dell-Systems-Compatible-N...
Bad news is that upgrading the CPU is not really an option, the next step up is a fairly small one and the current CPU is a 'old' one so the only way to upgrade to a more modern processor will be to change the motherboard, which may not be possible within the Dell case. Sorry, but without a lot of changes you've run into a wall here. :( 
Extra memory is an option, personally I'd say that in your case, 8Gb is not required-but keep it in mind. Also consider the Operating System, if your OS is 32 bit (the info is in the Control Panel under 'System' exactly where depends on the OS) then the system already has as much memory as it can use.
Have a look here: http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/gaming-graphics-card-revi... Handy and concise.
Top choices: HD7850 or GTX650 Ti Boost, massive upgrade and capable cards, you should easily find one within budget. Suggest you look for the 2Gb versions.
If the system was anything other than a Dell I'd be concerned that the 450Watt PSU is below minimum requirements, but those requirements are set out to cover the mass of poor quality power supplies out there, something your system does not have, as I said earlier Dell PSUs are good quality.
Get a tape measure out and check the card you have in mind will fit the case-obvious I know, but you'd be surprised.
Gold standard for warranty and service is EVGA, XFX also has a superb warranty but their service is not as good (allegedly).
November 6, 2013 2:12:11 PM

Thank you for the explanations and suggestions. My OS is actually 64 bit. The only reason I thought of going to 8 is because when I looked at the memory in windows it had all 4 gigs being used. This was with Europa Universalis open on one monitor, and multiple web sites open on the other monitor.

I didn't realize the newer video cards would even work with my computer. If the 460 PSU is good enough for the 500W requirement on the HD 7850, then I figure I'll go with it. Regarding wattage by the way, my computer has a CD Rom drive (which I NEVER use and could unplug if that would help any potential wattage issue (even if such an issue is unlikely) and a hard drive.

I don't think I even have a sound card, which is another question: Would a sound card even help any?

I was looking on Newegg for the HD7850 with 2GB, but was confused by some things.

Some of them say it uses a PCI Express 3.0 and some say PCI Express 3.0x16. My current video card says it uses PCI Express 2.0

Some of the comments stated that it runs pretty hot, and that you should get an extra fan or something for it?

I have to shut down my computer now to measure the size of the area. Thanks again for help!







coozie7 said:
The PCI-E slot itself can provide 75Watts through its power connections, if the card needs more it will require 1 or 2 extra power leads from the PSU-faster the card, the more power it needs.
Good news is that the current PSU should be up to your needs and has dual 6 pin PCI-E leads (the yellow and black lines) bottom photo: http://www.amazon.com/Genuine-Dell-Systems-Compatible-N...
Bad news is that upgrading the CPU is not really an option, the next step up is a fairly small one and the current CPU is a 'old' one so the only way to upgrade to a more modern processor will be to change the motherboard, which may not be possible within the Dell case. Sorry, but without a lot of changes you've run into a wall here. :( 
Extra memory is an option, personally I'd say that in your case, 8Gb is not required-but keep it in mind. Also consider the Operating System, if your OS is 32 bit (the info is in the Control Panel under 'System' exactly where depends on the OS) then the system already has as much memory as it can use.
Have a look here: http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/gaming-graphics-card-revi... Handy and concise.
Top choices: HD7850 or GTX650 Ti Boost, massive upgrade and capable cards, you should easily find one within budget. Suggest you look for the 2Gb versions.
If the system was anything other than a Dell I'd be concerned that the 450Watt PSU is below minimum requirements, but those requirements are set out to cover the mass of poor quality power supplies out there, something your system does not have, as I said earlier Dell PSUs are good quality.
Get a tape measure out and check the card you have in mind will fit the case-obvious I know, but you'd be surprised.
Gold standard for warranty and service is EVGA, XFX also has a superb warranty but their service is not as good (allegedly).

Best solution

November 6, 2013 3:14:07 PM
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Looks like you're running a fair few programs at once, so go ahead and add the extra memory, you might be surprised how it can smooth things out with multiple open programs. Two options here: Either get 2x2Gb modules of the same speed as those installed or go for 2x4Gb modules to replace those already installed. Either is good and don't worry about mixing makers, most motherboards are quite tolerant of mixed memory.
With a HD7850 the power supply will be just fine, don't bother disconnecting bits-a DVD drive only uses a few Watts anyway, even when working.
Not sure about your system but most motherboards have decent enough sound chips built in-certainly good enough for most gaming- check the documentation but I think you'll find several 3.5 m.m. jacks in the rear panel for headphones/speakers/microphone and being a prebuilt the required driver software should already be installed, literally 'plug and play'.
Don't worry about the PCI-E numbers the x16 part just signifies the size of the connector but not everyone adds the 'x16' bit, those that gave 'PCI-E 3.0' in the description just missed out the 'x16' bit.
Or 'everything you wanted to know about PCI-E but were glad you never asked' ;)  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PCI_Express
Some cards can run hot, stick with the twin fan designs and it will be OK-if in doubt, read the Newegg feedback, but be aware those who have had a problem are more likely to post than those who are delighted!
November 13, 2013 7:48:02 PM

I got the video card and installed it with no problems- runs fine. Improvement very significant, thanks again for help. Just put RAM in, will see what difference that makes.
December 26, 2013 1:29:25 PM

Hi.Sorry for digging up an old thread but just wondering how is the xps 7100 handling the upgrades.Iv bought a 7850 saphire and I seem the recommended psu is 500watt and mine is 460 like your own.Happy to see it should handle it.Did the extra ram make a difference?Thanks:) 
December 26, 2013 3:53:16 PM

giggsy07 said:
Hi.Sorry for digging up an old thread but just wondering how is the xps 7100 handling the upgrades.Iv bought a 7850 saphire and I seem the recommended psu is 500watt and mine is 460 like your own.Happy to see it should handle it.Did the extra ram make a difference?Thanks:) 


I've observed no electrical issues (not that I even know how they'd reveal themselves). ;-) It definitely runs much, much faster with the video card. The RAM made no *noticable* difference, but I assume when I have a ton of stuff open it will help. I'm so used to the new changes now that I don't know if I'd notice it.

The video card has worked very well. Recently purchased the converter necessary for me to use a 3rd monitor (since none of the monitors have the latest display port-type. Accell B087B-005B UltraAV DisplayPort to DVI-D Single-Link Active Adapter ATI Certified (Black) [Personal Computers]), and they all run fine.

Good luck with your upgrade ;-)
December 26, 2013 4:20:54 PM

giggsy07 said:
Hi.Sorry for digging up an old thread but just wondering how is the xps 7100 handling the upgrades.Iv bought a 7850 saphire and I seem the recommended psu is 500watt and mine is 460 like your own.Happy to see it should handle it.Did the extra ram make a difference?Thanks:) 


If you are interested, your XPS can play BF4 on High to Ultra when completely upgraded, you can instal even 6 Core AMD on it, to make emeraldstorm uneasy and jealous, I can add one more thing - with proper upgrade your XPS can be overclocked as well, if you wish spend more money, memory can go to 16 GB.

Shortly, I wish that I had your PC not my Inspiron, which is identical cheaper version.

If you are interested, please sart a new post and drop here a link, so I can easy find it.

Basically your upgrade limit is the size of your wallet!

Anything else I can help you both with?
December 26, 2013 4:29:35 PM

I have a 6 core phenom 1055t at the moment.The overclocking would be of interest.I think I read a post by you of a fresh install minus the dell security.Non dell version of windows.I tried that and was still unable to oc in bios:( 
December 26, 2013 4:46:42 PM

giggsy07 said:
I have a 6 core phenom 1055t at the moment.The overclocking would be of interest.I think I read a post by you of a fresh install minus the dell security.Non dell version of windows.I tried that and was still unable to oc in bios:( 


Good start - you are interested and willing to try new things, so please start new post, make sure that you list all your hardware components, plus OS 32 bit or 64 bit, if you are gaming, which is your most PC intense game, and most important - how much you are willing to spend. I hope you are living in US, so you can have plenty suppliers. Also, what is your PC upgrade skill approximately, no offense please: novice, know something and need some explanation, expert - just "show me the way".

P.S. Please don't forget to drop here a link to new post (there is a lot to talk about) for me and emeraldstorm.
December 27, 2013 1:10:01 AM

I'm fairly straight on where I want to go upgrade wise.The reason the oc didn't work is because my cpu is not a black edition.Its thuban.Im going to eventually change mobo and cpu.Ill probably have to upgrade the btx case also.
December 27, 2013 8:59:56 AM

You right, you need 1090T, which is Black Edition. Is it worth it, depends on price.

FYI you have to overclock using AMD OverDrive, not BIOS, but it will work with BE CPU only.
December 27, 2013 9:45:14 AM

First of all, you don't have BTX board, but regular mini ATX motherboard, so if you decide to move to the new case, it would be easy!

Second, CPU, AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition Six-core Processor eBay UK (you posted on UK Toms) http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/AMD-Phenom-II-X6-1090T-Black-... for £89.99 (buy it now, no bidding) plus £5.99 Express Delivery.

You might have to upgrade CPU cooler for overclock.

Is it worth it?

Anything else I can help you with?

P.S. Just checked the rest of Hexa CPUs, this one I found considered very cheap find, so now or never!
December 27, 2013 11:05:12 AM

Kisianik said:
First of all, you don't have BTX board, but regular mini ATX motherboard, so if you decide to move to the new case, it would be easy!

Second, CPU, AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition Six-core Processor eBay UK (you posted on UK Toms) http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/AMD-Phenom-II-X6-1090T-Black-... for £89.99 (buy it now, no bidding) plus £5.99 Express Delivery.

You might have to upgrade CPU cooler for overclock.

Is it worth it?

Anything else I can help you with?

P.S. Just checked the rest of Hexa CPUs, this one I found considered very cheap find, so now or never!

Great advice thanks.For CPU I was thinking phenom 2x4 core 965?be of course.
December 27, 2013 11:18:40 AM

x6 is always better than x4
Also, just checked 965 http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.html?_sacat=0&_from=R40&_nk...

Prices at least the same if not more, so the choice I provided previously sounds very good

With 1090T BE (965 BE plus 2 more cores, LOL) you will max out your possibilities, unless you can get 965 BE for very cheap.

Anything else I can help you with?
!