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upgrade or build/buy advice...

Last response: in Systems
August 28, 2006 3:56:07 AM


My parents have a Dell Dimension 4100 and they have started to complain that it is slow. I'm trying to determine whether I should try and upgrade this computer or if I should just buy or build them a new one. I've never built a system before and the only upgrade I've done is adding some RAM, so your advice will certainly be welcome.

Here are some specs on the existing system (I apologize for the length of the post):

System Info
Model : Dell Dimension 4100
Chassis Type : 2X
Service Tag : GDRX101
Operating System : Microsoft Windows XP Professional Service Pack 2 (Build 2600)

Number Of Processors : 1
Type : Intel Pentium III EB 866 MHz
Processors Bus Speed : 133 MHz

Manufacturer : IntelCorporation
Model : D815EEA Rev. AAA10383-206
CPU Slot/Socket Type : Socket 370 FC-PGA
Chipset Vendor : Intel i815/E/EP Rev. A2
Bios Manufacturer : Intel Corp.
Bios Version : A04

Model : nVidia AGP Riva TNT2 M64
AGP Speed : 4x
Monitor : Dell P991

Size : 28.63 GB

Total RAM Installed : 384 MB
Used RAM Slots: 2 of 2

USB Version : 1.1

Here's some more info on the processor:
Number Of Processors : 1
Type : Intel Pentium III EB 866 MHz
Package : Socket 370 FC-PGA
Manufacturer Codename : Coppermine
Clock Speed : 864 MHz
Clock Multiplier : 6.5
Front Side Bus (FSB) Speed : 133 MHz
L2 Cache Size : 256 KBytes Stepping : cB0
Trace Width : 0.18
Microcode : 14h
Instruction Sets : MMX, SSE

Here's some more info on the RAM situation:
I previously upgraded the RAM to 384 MB from the 128 MB the system came with. There are two sockets and I currently have a 256 MB RAM module in one and a 128 MB RAM module in the other. I could upgrade the RAM to a maximum of 512 MB by replacing the 128 MB module in one socket with another 256 MB module. However, I don't think that the additional 128 MB would improve the performance that much.

I have done some research and while I'm still not sure exactly what processors I can upgrade to, it appears I have several options (Please correct me if I'm wrong).

1. Upgrade the processor. However, it seems that the socket will only support a Intel FC-PGA Pentium III (500~1.1G) or a Celeron (533A-1.1G). I'm not sure if this would make a difference performance-wise, but I doubt it.

2. Buy an upgrade adaptor in order to upgrade the Intel Coppermine (socket 370) CPU to a Intel Tualatin-core CPU (a Intel Tualatin FC-PGA2 processor - Pentium-III-S / Pentium-III / Celeron processors up to 1.4GHz.). This could be accomplished without changing the motherboard, but it would require buying a new processor in addition to the adaptor. While it seems like this would make a difference, I'm not sure it would be worth the cost. Here are two examples of "adaptors" that would accomplish this task:

PL-Neo/T 1.4 GHz / 133 MHz FSB Intel "Tualatin" Pentium-III/S 512K L2 Cache
133 Front Side Bus

370GU Tualatin CPU upgrade adaptor

3. Upgrade the motherboard and buy a modern CPU. While I'm sure that this would make a big difference, I know it would cost quite a bit. Also, I'm not even sure what motherboards will work in the Dell Dimension 4100, and if this would make sense given that the other existing components might have to be upgraded as well.

4. Buy another Dell (the prices, when utilizing various discounts and taking advantage of "special deals", seem hard to beat)

5. Build a computer (not sure I currently have the time or energy)

Well, let me know what you guys think, as you are the experts and I'm not that knowledgeable about these matters. At this point, I'm leaning towards a new computer, as it seems the performance increase I would get from an upgrade would not be close to what I would get from a current system.

Thanks for your time!
August 28, 2006 4:56:58 AM

if i were you i wouldnt waste the time upgrading the cpu. and if you buy a new motherboard your going to have to reinstall windows, and buy new ram too because the current ram on the dell wouldnt be worth it. Considering that its for you parents if you find a good deal on a name brand computer then just get them that, but if not just build them a computer.