Motherboard/CPU for Dell Box?

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My niece has an old Dell PC. Believe it or not she is running XP on 64MB of RAM. Slow is not the word.

I would like to put together a package that I could use to upgrade her PC and help her learn how computers are built in the process. I would like to reuse the case, power supply, HD, CDRW, monitor, keyboard, mouse. Basically I want to replace the MB, CPU and RAM. Not sure about the video card. The PC contains an AGP card (probably 1x), but I don't see a need to upgrade the video for what she is doing.

She uses it primarily for web surfing and MS office type apps for school. She is a freshman in HS.

1) Does anyone have any suggestions for motherboard, processor and RAM.
2) Will the motherboard fit in the Dell box or will I have to monkey around trying to get it to fit?
3) Will I need to replace the power supply?

Any and all suggestions appreciated.

Newbie from NY
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  1. 1) Something like what Wusy said. (he forgot RAM, so you get to add it) [grin]

    2) Maybe. What Dell is it? If it's one of those small 'micro-tower' sized ones, a new case may not just be a good idea, it may be a requirement. Dell tends to use proprietary connections, but if the holes line up, you're in.

    3) Probably. Dell used just enough PS for the machine it was to run. Upgrading to a new machine is going to overload that old PS. I also remember hearing that Dell used non-standard motherboard connector pinouts, so even if you could plug it in, it wouldn't boot.

  2. Wusy,

    Thanks for the response. Not sure if I understand your frying comment asround the 1x AGP. Does this mean I have to buy another AGP video card?

    It also sounds like I will have to spring for a case because of Dell's non-standard layout. True? If so maybe I'll just get one with a PS included.

    The PC already has a 40 Gb HD. Since it's low end I assume it's 7200. I think I'll just use it for now. Remember, this is a low-end user.

    One last question: As long as I need to buy a new video card, does it make sense to look for a MB that has onboard video? Her video needs are very basic.

    Newbie from NY
  3. Yes. Onboard video should work fine. Some boards with the km400 chipset (with video) are reasonably priced in micro atx format. Might as well go for a new case, as some are not much more than the power supply alone.
  4. <A HREF="http:// " target="_new">http:// </A>

    Nice looking case with 480W (It's a cheap PSU but it will do for a low end user) for little money
  5. <A HREF="" target="_new"> Abit VA20 </A> This has a built in video but also has an AGP slot u can use in the future.

    MSI supposed has a board like this too someone else here recommened that.

    Anyway in Canadian $$$

    ABIT VA20 = $75
    DDR 512MB = $85 - Nforce chipsets are a bit picky (Corsair or Kingston Value Ram)
    CPU = $150 - Sempron or XP2500 mobile u can overclock the heck out of
    Case = $50 - Something pretty but cheap

    Price $350 Canadian or about $300 or less American.

    Plus HDD, CDROM etc if u need it.

    The loving are the daring!
  6. Or if not the epox, then the Abit <A HREF="" target="_new"></A>
    You can get decent image quality from that.
  7. Like I said..... This group rocks.

    Thanks for all the suggestions!

    Newbie from NY
  8. Sorry wrong link <A HREF="" target="_new"></A>
  9. Dell Dimension PIII, PII, and Pentium systems used an ATX case with a non-standard power supply (same connectors, wired differently). They usually had an Intel style front panel connector (also used in Gateways) which had to be re-wired to work with standard boards. And the backplate only accepted the original port layout, while most newer boards have custom backplates which don't fit the Palo Alto cases.

    Some boards fit, most boards require some modification to the case, all require a new power supply.

    <font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
    <font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
  10. Well, That's an interesting piece of information. Nice of Dell to boobytrap the box. I guess I have no choice but to buy a new box. There actually pretty inexpensive and some of the recommendations you've made are rather nice looking.

    What is the minimum power supply I can get away with? I doubt I'll be dealing with a MOBO that has serial ATA on it. Again, remember, this is an inexpensive system.

    Newbie from NY
  11. Actually I LIKE the PIII/PII/PMMX Dell cases. They're metal lined and high impact, heavy plastic. Very sturdy and quiet. They're Palo Alto cases, you can still get Palo Alto backplates with all the standard port holes, but the problem is that most newer boards don't use standard ports and a non Palo Alto backplate won't fit (too tall). Dell's only modification to the case itself is the front panel header. Of course the Dell power supply is wired differently than an ATX unit, even though it uses the same connectors (there's your booby trap).

    The best power supply for the money in my opinion is the Fortron Source FSP350. This "350W" power supply actually has around 410W of power. It's also available under the Sparkle Power brand, and Aopen sells one as well (under the same model number). It cost around $40.

    <font color=blue>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to a hero as big as Crashman!</font color=blue>
    <font color=red>Only a place as big as the internet could be home to an ego as large as Crashman's!</font color=red>
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