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Need help for my old Dell Dimension 9100 upgrade

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April 20, 2014 6:35:14 PM

good morning! I am planning to upgrade my desktop dell dimension 9100 to be at least average for gaming, it still works fine even i replace the OS (from xp to win 7) i also found in this thread that there are so many things to pay attenion for this unit to upgrade, i'll put the notes after the previous specs i have, hope you guys can help me....

Mainboard: Dell Dimenion 9100 Series model: 0x8582 chipset i945p
don't need to replace, i found in this thread that the board is the only one that fits the design in the back panel of the CSU Case

CPU: Intel Pentium 4 640 3.2 ghz Prescott ( upgrade to intel pentium d 945/950/960 or the least pentium d 840)
i found in this site that the mobo doesn't like much the core 2 duo processor to be installed (there are few who succeed but most of it fails) so i switch to pentium d 945/950/960, people here said that i just need to upgrade my BIOS from A01 to A03 and i succesfully did it, but i want to make sure, does this d 945/950/960 processor really works on my mobo eventhough the max L2 cache of my mobo is 2 mb and 945/950/960 have L2 cache of 4 mb or it will just burn my mobo?, then i came up with the least pentium d 840 which have 2mb of L2 Cache but only 3.2 ghz frequency :( .... if there's someone out there that succesfully run the dimension 9100 with pentium d 945/950/960 please guaranteed me, i really want that 3.4 ghz and above to be installed.

Video Card: ATI Radeon x1300/1550 series (upgrade to nvidia 9800 gt)
i found in dell's forum that someone is using 9800 gt with the same type as my system, I'm not so sure of this because i was thinking if this GPU speed can came up with the mobo and the processor or sooner it will burn my mobo? if its really work then i will buy this 9800 gt, the reason i don't want to try for other higher gpu because other hardawre doen't fit inside (might hit the processor heatsink and fan) which makes the upgrades for gpu very limited that's why i want the best one that fits and run with my system efficiently. if you have some other suggestion for other video cards that are tested with same type of my dimension 9100 please just inform me...

Memory Card: 2 pieces of samsung ddr2 533 512 mb (1gb) max upgrade is 4 gb and supports 400/533/667 bus speeds and have four slots (each one have 1 gb max).
this one frustrates me, i put a kingston ddr2 667 2GB and it works, so right now im using 3gb of mem card (2 pieces samsung ddr2 533 512mb and 1 piece kingston ddr2 667 2gb) how come my 2 gb kingston works in a 1 slot with a max of 1 gb? is it really okay or it will destroy my mem slot or my mobo will get burned by it? if it's okay then i will buy another kingston ddr2 667 1gb or 2gb, regarding with this, i heard that a 32 bit OS doesn't support more than 4 GB of RAM so im really confuse if i will max the 4gb RAM upgrade or just 3 gb?, im not planning to upgrade the OS to 64 bit because dimension 9100 might crash in such OS bit, not so sure of this.....

below are not needed to upgrade:
1 DVD-RW
1 usb keyboard and 1 usb mouse
1 standard desktop speaker

below are the list of hardware i remove from my desktop because i know it consume wattage and needed volts from my PSU:
802.11g wireless pci adapter(dont need wifi connection. its wire connected)
another pci audio hardware (don't need im satisfied with the standard)
pci modem for fax (really don't need)

Power supply: original DELL 375 Watts (not sure if i need to upgrade this also with those upgrades above)

the above upgrades range between 40-50 usd, so its cheap, i don't want to replace the mainboard and the heatsink because its really good (i think the heatsink is one of the key that my dimension still works very fine even for 8 years :D )
thats it.... i really need help for this upgrade.... I am hoping for the best possible upgrade to have in dell dimension 9100 series....Thank You very much in advance!

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a c 125 à CPUs
April 21, 2014 5:49:22 PM

Hello and good morning to you too, or night as it maybe now.

It seems as if you have done enough research yourself for your upgrade, but regardless I have conducted research too. Unfortunately I do not own a Dell Dimension 9100, so I cannot provide a response based upon experience with that specific machine. However I will do my best to assist, as I did too have a Pentium 4 (HT) with 2GB RAM, Nvidia Geforce 6800 and Windows 7 before my current build.

Firstly I'd just like to mention that Pentium 4's are extremely weak processors, and in 2014 they're at the bottom of most, if not all CPU benchmarks. Unfortunately Pentium D's are not far off P4's either, they're not too good in performance, even though they're dual-core. Even the Pentium D 960 would not provide you with modern day CPU performance, you may disagree with me as your machine runs as you expect now, but when you do eventually upgrade to a modern processor, you'll never look back at the P4/D (that's where I am now). Intel Core 2 Duo and Quad (C2Q CPU's are still ranked high-end in benchmarks) processors would be a major upgrade to your computer, however as you know, they are not compatible with your motherboard; even with the BIOS update.

Anyhow, if you're looking to upgrade your computer I'll provide some assistance. However the advice I was given by others when upgrading my P4 machine was to save up my money, instead of upgrading. Once I have saved up my money, just build your own machine. I actually didn't listen to that advice completely (as I did not have enough money for a new machine, but did have money for little upgrades), I did upgrade my P4 machine, but I did eventually upgrade two years later by building a new machine. With hindsight, I'd say building a new machine is the way forward, instead of upgrading old hardware such as a P4/D (if you had a Core 2 Duo or Quad, it would be another story.)

Regarding your CPU upgrade, yes the Pentium D 945, 950 and 960 will work with your current motherboard with the latest BIOS update (which you have installed). The Pentium D 945, 950 and 960 are guaranteed to work (i.e. 100% compatible), as others have tested it countless times. You do not need to worry about the L2 cache, it will not "burn" your motherboard in anyway, instead you will gain benefits of a larger CPU cache. Again the Pentium D 945, 950 and 960 are compatible with the Dell Dimension 9100.

I'm sorry but I don't completely understand your question regarding the GPU. If the graphics card you're looking at fits the slot (i.e. PCI-E), then you don't need to worry about it destroying the rest of your machine. However you will need to look for a small graphics card, as I have noticed that you are confined for space in that Dell Dimension 9100 case. The Nvidia GeForce 9800 GT will work with your motherboard using the PCI-E slot, however Nvidia recommends that the GeForce 9800 GT is inserted into a computer with at least a 450watt power supply (PSU). The Dell Dimension 9100 ships with a 375watt PSU, so you may need to upgrade your PSU before a GPU upgrade. Regardless, there are no compatibility issues with your motherboard and the GPU. If you're looking to game with this computer, I would upgrade the PSU, CPU and GPU, but to be honest, if you seriously want to play games, I would get a new computer. As a little note, the GeForce 9800 GT will probably still work with your current PSU but I wouldn't risk it; it could cause your computer to randomly shut down or other problems could arise.

Regarding Windows and RAM. It's true, Windows 32bit will not register anything beyond 4GB of RAM (only 3GB will be usable). The other GB not utilised by Windows will be consumed for other components such as for BIOS, PCI, GFX etc. Windows will detect and only allow you to use 3GB of RAM. If you upgrade to 64bit, you can use the complete 4GB of RAM and more. 64 bit editions of Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate can utilise up to 192GB of RAM.

Concerning the 2GB ram in one slot, it may be problematic in the future when you upgrade. However I would stick to Dell's specification and only insert 1GB per slot, that's 4GB in total. I have experienced users installing 6GB RAM into their motherboards, when their chipset only allowed 4GB RAM, and they ran into issues where their computer would randomly reboot after a period of time. If you're willing to, I'd sell your current 2GB RAM (1x2GB) and upgrade to 4GB (4x1GB). Yes 32bit will only recognise 3GB RAM, but that other GB will be aiding other parts of your system; hence I would still insert 4GB.

If you can upgrade the above for only 40-50 bucks, I think that's grand and you should go ahead and give your computer a little more life. If you're going to upgrade your PSU, that will also add in additional costs however; and if you're going to insert a branded PSU, the cost is not going to be cheap for the PSU alone.

All the best, and I hope your upgrade goes well. :) 
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April 21, 2014 9:39:11 PM

Obnoxious said:
Hello and good morning to you too, or night as it maybe now.

It seems as if you have done enough research yourself for your upgrade, but regardless I have conducted research too. Unfortunately I do not own a Dell Dimension 9100, so I cannot provide a response based upon experience with that specific machine. However I will do my best to assist, as I did too have a Pentium 4 (HT) with 2GB RAM, Nvidia Geforce 6800 and Windows 7 before my current build.

Firstly I'd just like to mention that Pentium 4's are extremely weak processors, and in 2014 they're at the bottom of most, if not all CPU benchmarks. Unfortunately Pentium D's are not far off P4's either, they're not too good in performance, even though they're dual-core. Even the Pentium D 960 would not provide you with modern day CPU performance, you may disagree with me as your machine runs as you expect now, but when you do eventually upgrade to a modern processor, you'll never look back at the P4/D (that's where I am now). Intel Core 2 Duo and Quad (C2Q CPU's are still ranked high-end in benchmarks) processors would be a major upgrade to your computer, however as you know, they are not compatible with your motherboard; even with the BIOS update.

Anyhow, if you're looking to upgrade your computer I'll provide some assistance. However the advice I was given by others when upgrading my P4 machine was to save up my money, instead of upgrading. Once I have saved up my money, just build your own machine. I actually didn't listen to that advice completely (as I did not have enough money for a new machine, but did have money for little upgrades), I did upgrade my P4 machine, but I did eventually upgrade two years later by building a new machine. With hindsight, I'd say building a new machine is the way forward, instead of upgrading old hardware such as a P4/D (if you had a Core 2 Duo or Quad, it would be another story.)

Regarding your CPU upgrade, yes the Pentium D 945, 950 and 960 will work with your current motherboard with the latest BIOS update (which you have installed). The Pentium D 945, 950 and 960 are guaranteed to work (i.e. 100% compatible), as others have tested it countless times. You do not need to worry about the L2 cache, it will not "burn" your motherboard in anyway, instead you will gain benefits of a larger CPU cache. Again the Pentium D 945, 950 and 960 are compatible with the Dell Dimension 9100.

I'm sorry but I don't completely understand your question regarding the GPU. If the graphics card you're looking at fits the slot (i.e. PCI-E), then you don't need to worry about it destroying the rest of your machine. However you will need to look for a small graphics card, as I have noticed that you are confined for space in that Dell Dimension 9100 case. The Nvidia GeForce 9800 GT will work with your motherboard using the PCI-E slot, however Nvidia recommends that the GeForce 9800 GT is inserted into a computer with at least a 450watt power supply (PSU). The Dell Dimension 9100 ships with a 375watt PSU, so you may need to upgrade your PSU before a GPU upgrade. Regardless, there are no compatibility issues with your motherboard and the GPU. If you're looking to game with this computer, I would upgrade the PSU, CPU and GPU, but to be honest, if you seriously want to play games, I would get a new computer. As a little note, the GeForce 9800 GT will probably still work with your current PSU but I wouldn't risk it; it could cause your computer to randomly shut down or other problems could arise.

Regarding Windows and RAM. It's true, Windows 32bit will not register anything beyond 4GB of RAM (only 3GB will be usable). The other GB not utilised by Windows will be consumed for other components such as for BIOS, PCI, GFX etc. Windows will detect and only allow you to use 3GB of RAM. If you upgrade to 64bit, you can use the complete 4GB of RAM and more. 64 bit editions of Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate can utilise up to 192GB of RAM.

Concerning the 2GB ram in one slot, it may be problematic in the future when you upgrade. However I would stick to Dell's specification and only insert 1GB per slot, that's 4GB in total. I have experienced users installing 6GB RAM into their motherboards, when their chipset only allowed 4GB RAM, and they ran into issues where their computer would randomly reboot after a period of time. If you're willing to, I'd sell your current 2GB RAM (1x2GB) and upgrade to 4GB (4x1GB). Yes 32bit will only recognise 3GB RAM, but that other GB will be aiding other parts of your system; hence I would still insert 4GB.

If you can upgrade the above for only 40-50 bucks, I think that's grand and you should go ahead and give your computer a little more life. If you're going to upgrade your PSU, that will also add in additional costs however; and if you're going to insert a branded PSU, the cost is not going to be cheap for the PSU alone.

All the best, and I hope your upgrade goes well. :) 


Good day to you obnoxious! Thank you for the quick reply, i am fulfilled with your answers, which means i don't have to worry about the processor upgrade :) , and yes the GPU upgrade limits by the space inside CSU Case , and knowing the wattage(sorry for the ignorance, should have seen complete specs of 9800gt) required will not meet my current PSU(which is the original one that's why i don't want to replace it) so knowing from it, I should pick a lower VC that matches my current PSU(which will save more:D ) and gladly about the RAM, wish it doesn't affect the board for i have been using it for a week,(i'm going to take that 2 gb off after i post this :( ).

Yes! this so old computer was left very very far behind for our technologies getting higher at a very fast time,my only reason that i want to badly upgrade this one now is that this is the only pc left, i did not mentioned that i have a AMD phenom ii that get burned last week, it's not warranty covered now so instead of repairing it, and as you suggested, i am planning to build a new one, so while conserving for that big budget, i might upgrade this dell as well for its maximum use.... I am very very grateful to your reply...considering all of your suggestions to be done for this upgrade.. Thank You Very Much! :) :) :) 
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a c 125 à CPUs
April 23, 2014 2:43:24 PM

No problem at all franz29m, it was a pleasure to assist you. Firstly good day, and I hope you're upgrades are going great; if you're still looking for a graphics card to upgrade to, I might just want to add a few additional notes.

Although the Nvidia GeForce 9800 GT requires a higher watt PSU than your stock Dell, someone else with the Dell Dimension 9100 has installed the 9800 GT with the stock 375 watt PSU with no problems. You can see their discussion thread here. That individual has inserted the GeForce 9800 GT with a Dell 375watt PSU, and claims it runs fine; of course I can't guarantee it'll work for you, but it seems to work for that individual. Sorry I didn't mention this earlier, I had just stumbled across it today when researching.

However, if you're looking for a good graphics card, which is dirt cheap, and will work with your motherboard + PSU with no problems at all, you could consider the ATI HD 4670. That graphics card will work with your computer with no upgrades necessary to the PSU; just plug and play. It is capable of running a few games at full setting, such as Call of Duty 4 (although you may need a better processor). You should be able to pick one of these cards up for cheap, however reviews say that the graphics card's fan makes a loud noise. The HD 4670 is also extremely small, so size should no be an issue either by the way.

Other cards to consider are perhaps the Nvidia GTX 750 Ti and ATI HD 7750 (discussion thread), but they are much more expensive in price and most likely are out of your budget; they would definitely be out of my budget on an old machine.

Personally I think the HD 4670 is a great card on stock 375w PSU, and for the cost, it should be cheaper than the 9800 GT. Of course whichever you chose is up to you, as they're both great; but the 9800 GT is recommended for a higher watt PSU.

All the best, and I hope your AMD Phenom II machine burning out isn't causing you too much trouble, it's a shame it's no longer covered by warranty.

Kindest regards. :) 
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