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Dell XPS 720 CPU Upgrade #2

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April 14, 2008 3:10:29 PM

Hello again,

You may remeber yesterday I posted a thread on upgrading the CPU on a Dell XPS 720 machine from an Intel Quad Core Q6600 2.4 GHz 65nm 1066 FSB chip to an Intel Core Extreme QX9650 3 GHz 45nm 1333 FSB (or alternatively a QX6850 3 GHz 65 nm 1333 FSB). All of these use an LGA775 socket.
My motherboard is one made by Dell which came with the machine, an XPS 720 for those of you familiar with it, and is described by CPU-Z as:
Manufacturer Dell Inc., Model 0P611C, NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI SPP Chipset, NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI MCP Southbridge, SMSC for LPCIA. The BIOS is also by Dell, version A05 dated 01/03/2008, so the most recent, I guess. Graphic interfact is PCI-Express, with link width x16, also max supported.

You guys are a goldmine of excellent advice and information, and I don't want to get this CPU change wrong, so if you could advise whether this motherboard will take the QX9650 or QX6850 I would be extremely grateful! Thank you for your advice so far on the previous thread!
Best regards,
AJS
April 14, 2008 3:18:41 PM

QX9650 = win, it will overclock better, and perform marginally better generally. How much is the price gap between them from wherever you are buying them from?
April 14, 2008 3:25:29 PM

jonisginger said:
QX9650 = win, it will overclock better, and perform marginally better generally. How much is the price gap between them from wherever you are buying them from?


Hi, at amazon.com they are sold both for essentially the same price, the cheapest being in the region of 900 US dollars, or 450 UK pounds. So if the QX9650 is better I would certainly go for it, the question is whether my motherboard will support it properly :) .
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April 14, 2008 3:26:29 PM

Dell have yet to release a BIOS for the 720 that will support the 45nm CPUs. They WILL NOT WORK in the 720 or the 720H2C. They have even stated they have no intention of updating the BIOS for 45nm support.

Some of the earlier 720 boards don't even like running at a 1333MT/s FSB as needed by the QX6850.

This is not a worthwhile upgrade anyway, you really won't see much of a performance boost in games, considering the $1000 you are talking about spending.

I have a 720H2C myself, although it is not on its original CPU or GPUs, which I currently use as a fileserver and media centre PC. The BTX motherboard in these is utter crap to be honest :( 
April 14, 2008 3:31:15 PM

:(  I bought the 720 only 2 weeks ago or so, so the motherboard should be the newest they have, right?
In this case the QX6850 would be a safer choice, it appears.
I don't really run games on my machine, I need it to do ABAQUS finite element simulations among other, for which do need a fast processor, and I think the 0.6 GHz (or more if I overclock it) boost could be worthwhile.
April 14, 2008 3:33:12 PM

Yeah, Just OC ur Q6600 to 3ghz... cheap and basicaly the same.
April 14, 2008 3:35:54 PM

I tried that, but the OC is locked in the Dell BIOS that it came with. I tried the nVidia nTune application, and I got it to 2.7, but the system became unstable and crashed all the time, restarted all of a sudden etc. etc. etc. maybe I did something wrong? Is this a reliable way of overclocking?
April 14, 2008 3:35:54 PM

You have said in your other thread that you have issues overclocking. Alot of these boards suffer from the same FSB issue with quad cores as the original reference nVidia 680i boards did - only dell never bothered fixing it.

If your board is affected by this it would explain you struggling to overclock.

A better choice would be the QX6800, which, while older, will definitely work and can still be overclocked by the BIOS as it has an unlocked multiplier.

An even better, and even cheaper, option would be to buy a new case and motherboard, throw the crappy dell motherboard away, and overclock your Q6600.

You'd probably get more performance, and it would certainly be cheaper, to take the 2nd option.
April 14, 2008 3:40:01 PM

Hi Darkstar782,

So the Q6600 is automatically locked in the BIOS, and the QX6800 is not?
This would be cheaper.
I would love to change the motherboard, but I don't really want to throw the computer case away because it's quite nice, actually. I wouldn't feel confident enough to change a whole motherboard myself.
April 14, 2008 3:41:55 PM

You can switch the mobo without chucking the case, can't you?

sell the Q6600 as 2.4ghz only, or try it in your new mobo.

then think about your CPU again.
April 14, 2008 3:46:09 PM

jedynygucio said:
Hi Darkstar782,

So the Q6600 is automatically locked in the BIOS, and the QX6800 is not?


Correct. Dell lock the FSB and Memory clock. If the CPU has an unlocked multiplier it allows adjustment of the multiplier. It is a very blunt instrument however and makes up its own vCore. This is how the 720H2Cs are overclocked - multiplier adjustment.

jonisginger said:
You can switch the mobo without chucking the case, can't you?


No, the XPS720 is a BTX only case. There are no decent BTX motherboards available to replace it with. The point of changing the case would be for an ATX design.
April 14, 2008 3:49:29 PM

Not worth the $1000.
April 14, 2008 3:52:07 PM

Bear in mind that if you do want to overclock you are going to need a better cooler than the stock one in the XPS720 (unless yours is a H2C, but it can't be as those don't come with Q6600s), and most decent coolers will require you to remove the motherboard from the case to fit the retention system.
April 14, 2008 3:53:25 PM

Definitely get aftermarket cooling (in case you are still using the stock cooler), a new motherboard, and even a new case if necessary.
April 14, 2008 3:56:29 PM

ARE YOU SURE ABOUT IT BEING A BTX ONLY CASE :|




Odd decision by Dell.
April 14, 2008 4:03:02 PM

jonisginger said:
ARE YOU SURE ABOUT IT BEING A BTX ONLY CASE :|




Odd decision by Dell.



Yes I'm sure, I have one.

Dell do what they want, their custom 680i board is BTX so the case is BTX. They are not interested in making it easy to upgrade.
April 14, 2008 4:11:11 PM

Can't you remove the mobo tray or make ANY adjustments ATALL? To allow an ATX case?
April 14, 2008 4:18:35 PM

Hm... I swear the next machine I get will be custom built.
I won't be able to change the motherboard.
Darkstar, tell me since you have the machine, is it actually physiacally possible to remove the motherboard and change the processor? Is this difficult or troublesome? I notice there is a huge fan in the way, is it possible to just remove the fan/cooling thing, keep the motherboard inside the machine, and change it that way (if I decide to do it)?
April 14, 2008 4:27:15 PM

I don't think they would leave the motherboard permanently attached to the case, however the problem is that Dell and most OEMs use a BTX form factor on their boards and cases, but most if not all of the decent boards out there are ATX, and creates a problem when attaching it to your case, all of your other components are fine though.

This is why what we suggest the best thing to do is to lose the dell case and board and get something along the lines of a GA-P35-DS3L ($90-100), Antec Nine Hundred ($100-120), and maybe even a CPU cooler like the ZeroTherm Nirvana ($45) which should allow you to overclock that CPU just fine. If you ask me that's the best course of action and price shouldn't be a problem, since you were considering to pay $1000 for a CPU with marginal increase.
April 14, 2008 4:47:57 PM

Oh man, that essentially means I would be getting a completely new computer!
April 14, 2008 4:55:10 PM

jonisginger said:
Can't you remove the mobo tray or make ANY adjustments ATALL? To allow an ATX case?


The BTX motherboard goes on the other side of the case. You could fit an upside-down ATX board to that side of the case if you drilled and tapped your own holes for the mounting pins, but then you'd have all the slots of the PCI/PCIe cards at the end of the motherboard with the CPU and none where the slots were.

It wouldn't really work and a new case would make fare more sense than trying to adapt it.

emp said:
I don't think they would leave the motherboard permanently attached to the case,


Its not. What gave you that idea? :s

jedynygucio said:
Oh man, that essentially means I would be getting a completely new computer!


And yet it would perform better and be cheaper than your "new CPU" solution.

You are talking of buying a £450 CPU which you will probably struggle to overclock as you won't be able to cool it properly.
We are talking of buying a £100 motherboard, £80 case, and a cooler.

Its entirely possible to change the CPU in this machine, I have changed mine to a Q6600 (used the CPU that came with mine in another build).

You may well have issues changing the cooler. Mine is a 720H2C and the cooler screws onto the case through the motherboard, assuming the non-H2C cooler has the same retention system, you may well not be able to change it.

In fact, I'm not even sure the Intel BTX spec cooler mounting holes are the same layout as the ATX ones. The Intel BTX retail Boxed cooler is completely different.

Yes, the heatsink/fan will unscrew and you will be able to access the CPU. Upon reflection however, you probably can't change the cooler.

I can tell you that at 266*14 = 3.73GHz, the Dell Bios sets the vCore to 1.6v. You would need extremely exotic air cooling or water cooling for this.

At 266*13 = 3.45GHz, the Dell Bios sets the vCore to 1.53v if I remember correctly. This is still a hell of alot for the aircooler in the standard XPS720 non-H2C

You would get better speeds for alot less money with a new motherboard, case and cooler
April 14, 2008 4:59:42 PM

Thanks a million for all your advice and support, I will have to think long and hard about this.
These forums are invaluable!
Why does Dell make this computer so unfriendly?
April 14, 2008 5:02:17 PM

By the way, if I DO change the case, what about all the other peripherals that came with the XPS like the cd driver, media card readers, hard drives, graphics card etc. I presume the new motherboard would have to be compatible with all of these too!
April 14, 2008 5:09:06 PM

All of these would fit the new system.

The Card reader/bluetooth module fits a standard 3.5" bay, and if I remember correctly just connects via a USB header.... I'll check that for you in a bit.

The Hard disks and CD drives will all be fine with a new motherboard, they are all standard SATA drives (even the CD drives are SATA in mine, I'm pretty sure they are in all XPS720s).

GPUs and RAM etc are all just industry standard off the shelf components.

The PSU is a 750W model unless you have an SLi system or a H2C system, which has a 1000W PSU. Both PSUs will fit a standard case (well, my 1000W one is pretty long, the same length as the PC Power and cooling 1kW PSU in my main PC, so some cases could struggle to fit it)

Do you have 1 graphics card or two? This would affect your motherboard choice.

The XPS 630 is alot more friendly - its an ATX design. As is the new XPS730 which has yet to be released. This seems to be down to the HP Blackbird, which is an amazing machine and is fully user upgradeable, taking away Dell's business.
April 14, 2008 5:14:14 PM

I have one graphics card, an nvidia gefore gtx8800.
What is a PSU and GPU? You see I am a novice at these things! :) 
April 14, 2008 5:16:58 PM

jedynygucio said:
Thanks a million for all your advice and support, I will have to think long and hard about this.
These forums are invaluable!
Why does Dell make this computer so unfriendly?


Dell's are meant for people who just want a PC without having to put it together and configure. So it's meant to be user friendly, or over friendly with all the annoying crap ware they put on it.

Also if you think about it, how would Dell be able to sell their products, when they are determined by its speed, if your able to take a low end and make it as fast as the high end?

That is why people here mainly build their machines... To get the best bang for their buck. :D 
April 14, 2008 5:24:48 PM

Ok, just had mine apart for you :p 

Yes, the card reader/bluetooth module just connects via a USB header and would work with any motherboard.

The BTX cooler retention is completely different from the ATX one and you cannot replace the cooler. The mounting holes are in completely different positions (they are not even laid out in a square, but a rectangle, and there is a mounting plate for the cooler to screw into).

PSU is power supply. GPU is graphics processing unit, I was using it to mean your graphics card ;) 

With a single 8800GTX you can use any intel motherboard.
April 14, 2008 5:41:58 PM

So for £200 or so I could rebuild the machine from scratch with a better motherboard and cooling system and overclock it to 3GHz or so. It is certainly worth me looking into this.
I understand everyone here recommends an ATX motherboard. Who would be the best producer of these that would go with the processor I have already? ASUS?
Does a new fan/cooling system require its own custom power supply or does it just plug into a slot in the motherboard?
Thank you all so very much for your help! :) 
April 14, 2008 5:45:11 PM

Grimmy said:
Dell's are meant for people who just want a PC without having to put it together and configure. So it's meant to be user friendly, or over friendly with all the annoying crap ware they put on it.

Also if you think about it, how would Dell be able to sell their products, when they are determined by its speed, if your able to take a low end and make it as fast as the high end?

That is why people here mainly build their machines... To get the best bang for their buck. :D 


But your average user would not go to the trouble of paying for the 'high-end' PC that is the XPS 720 which they are advertising, so they should be more inclined to make machines like this customizable.
a c 126 à CPUs
April 14, 2008 5:51:59 PM

jedynygucio said:
But your average user would not go to the trouble of paying for the 'high-end' PC that is the XPS 720 which they are advertising, so they should be more inclined to make machines like this customizable.


If they did that then people would buy the cheaper parts and then put the other parts in later therfroe not having to pay Dell an arm and a leg (literally) for a $2000 dollar PC priced at roughly $5K+.

That is also probably why Dell wen with a BTX style mobo/case as that makes it harder for someone to buy the cheap one and upgrade it to a better mobo/CPU.
April 14, 2008 5:58:06 PM

Ok you are in the UK so....

Motherboard:
Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L £65.79

Case:
Matter of opinion on looks really. I was going to suggest an Antec P180/P190 or similar but the PSU bay at the bottom may make it hard to fit your long PSU... these cases also sometimes have issues with ATX power connector length, and you want your first self build to be painless.... maybe a Thermaltake Kandalf?

Cooler:
Thermalright Ultra-120 extreme is cheap and highly regarded

Those are all suggestions, feel free to change them :) 

No you would not need a new PSU, yours will be fine :) 


April 14, 2008 5:58:27 PM

jedynygucio said:
But your average user would not go to the trouble of paying for the 'high-end' PC that is the XPS 720 which they are advertising, so they should be more inclined to make machines like this customizable.


Basically Dell wouldn't be able to make money, is the main point of my post. Its the marketing like Intel or AMD does. The chip runs faster, then it cost more for you to buy. If your able to take a Dell system that has a CPU of 1.8ghz, and were able to OC to 3ghz, then they wouldn't be able to sell their 3ghz system at the price they want.

Control over the product is key for them to make money. One reason why you don't find any OC feature in their Friendly PC.

If you were to buy their alienware, then you'd be able to do more, but it cost allot more.
a c 126 à CPUs
April 14, 2008 6:19:18 PM

Grimmy said:
Basically Dell wouldn't be able to make money, is the main point of my post. Its the marketing like Intel or AMD does. The chip runs faster, then it cost more for you to buy. If your able to take a Dell system that has a CPU of 1.8ghz, and were able to OC to 3ghz, then they wouldn't be able to sell their 3ghz system at the price they want.

Control over the product is key for them to make money. One reason why you don't find any OC feature in their Friendly PC.

If you were to buy their alienware, then you'd be able to do more, but it cost allot more.


$8K+ is not worht being able to OC a system I can build for $3K(a better one at that) and OC myself.
April 14, 2008 6:22:19 PM

:lol: 

Did I sound too encouraging for people to buy alienware?

Of course I know that you know that we know... that's why we know.. you know??
April 14, 2008 6:23:20 PM

May I ask one more thing?
The Q6600 2.4 GHz chip I have already, whose multiplier is locked in the BIOS and I can't edit it, is this a Dell BIOS limitation, or an Intel built-in CPU limitation? Will a new motherboard and different BIOS allow the multiplier to be changed?
April 14, 2008 6:26:31 PM

Thank you Darkstar for the hardware suggestions, they are very affordable and have great reviews! :)  Thanks a million!
a c 126 à CPUs
April 14, 2008 6:26:32 PM

The Q6600 is locked from 6-9x multi. So its not locked but limited. It is locked by the Dell BIOS so you cannot change it but Intel sets the max multi to 9x for the Q6600.
April 14, 2008 6:27:29 PM

jimmysmitty said:
The Q6600 is locked from 6-9x multi. So its not locked but limited. It is locked by the Dell BIOS so you cannot change it but Intel sets the max multi to 9x for the Q6600.


So I wouldn't be able to OC this one anyway?
April 14, 2008 6:27:46 PM

Well.. the multiplier is locked going up. So the Q6600 has a x9 multi. Since it uses SpeedStep, you can go down as low as x6.

That can play a vital part in OC'ing as well. In OC features on MB, you will need to adjust FSB speed, and voltages for the CPU and Memory.

The only CPU's by Intel with an unlocked multi, is their extreme line, like the $1000 you were looking at.

But still with a lock multi that a Q6600, you can achieve 3.6ghz, which I really haven't done, or need to. Water cooling would be more recommended if you wanted to get 4ghz out of it.
April 14, 2008 6:29:21 PM

jedynygucio said:
So I wouldn't be able to OC this one anyway?


If your referring to the Q6600 you have now, you can put it in another MB to OC it. Your MB bios from dell just doesn't have the features for the bios to do that.
April 14, 2008 6:39:08 PM

Thank you, all of you :) 
a b à CPUs
April 14, 2008 6:50:18 PM

darkstar782 said:
The PSU is a 750W model unless you have an SLi system or a H2C system, which has a 1000W PSU. Both PSUs will fit a standard case .

They will fit, but the 20 pin cpu connector on the Dell psu would make it difficult to use with a standard ATX board.
April 14, 2008 6:51:45 PM

You'll be able to over clock the Q6600 fine on a normal motherboard...

CPU speed is a multiplier of FSB speed.

The stock speed for a Q6600 is 266*9, or 2400MHz.

The Dell Bios does not allow you to change the FSB speed (the 266 bit). It does allow you to change the multiplier (the 9 bit) if your CPU supports it.

The only CPUs that allow you to increase the multiplier are the Extreme edition ones.

A normal motherboard would just let you increase the FSB and overclock that way. That P35 board I linked would easily go as high as 400MHz FSB, for 400*9= 3600MHz, or 3.6GHz, assuming the CPU could cope with that speed.

For a simple and easy overclock, 333*9 would get you to 3GHz, probably without you even needing to change voltages.
April 14, 2008 6:54:30 PM

delluser1 said:
They will fit, but the 20 pin cpu connector on the Dell psu would make it difficult to use with a standard ATX board.


The XPS 720 seems to have a standard 24 pin motherboard and 4 pin +12v connector, not one of the older non-standard dell connectors.
a b à CPUs
April 14, 2008 7:01:56 PM

jedynygucio said:
Hello again,

You may remeber yesterday I posted a thread on upgrading the CPU on a Dell XPS 720 machine from an Intel Quad Core Q6600 2.4 GHz 65nm 1066 FSB chip to an Intel Core Extreme QX9650 3 GHz 45nm 1333 FSB (or alternatively a QX6850 3 GHz 65 nm 1333 FSB). All of these use an LGA775 socket.
My motherboard is one made by Dell which came with the machine, an XPS 720 for those of you familiar with it, and is described by CPU-Z as:
Manufacturer Dell Inc., Model 0P611C, NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI SPP Chipset, NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI MCP Southbridge, SMSC for LPCIA. The BIOS is also by Dell, version A05 dated 01/03/2008, so the most recent, I guess. Graphic interfact is PCI-Express, with link width x16, also max supported.

You guys are a goldmine of excellent advice and information, and I don't want to get this CPU change wrong, so if you could advise whether this motherboard will take the QX9650 or QX6850 I would be extremely grateful! Thank you for your advice so far on the previous thread!
Best regards,
AJS


Why dont you just pay the extra dollar and get the machine fitted completley with the processor you want... and a 28 inch monitor...

Dell - Ruining the industry for everyone.....
April 14, 2008 7:16:12 PM

darkstar782 said:
You'll be able to over clock the Q6600 fine on a normal motherboard...

CPU speed is a multiplier of FSB speed.

The stock speed for a Q6600 is 266*9, or 2400MHz.

The Dell Bios does not allow you to change the FSB speed (the 266 bit). It does allow you to change the multiplier (the 9 bit) if your CPU supports it.

The only CPUs that allow you to increase the multiplier are the Extreme edition ones.

A normal motherboard would just let you increase the FSB and overclock that way. That P35 board I linked would easily go as high as 400MHz FSB, for 400*9= 3600MHz, or 3.6GHz, assuming the CPU could cope with that speed.

For a simple and easy overclock, 333*9 would get you to 3GHz, probably without you even needing to change voltages.


The Dell BIOS does not allow me to change either, but the nvidia ntune application does allow me to change the fsb speed through windows dynamically. Is it wise or advisable to use a 3rd party application like this to overclock, given as it's my only option at this moment? Is the Q6600 a naturally cool chip, perhaps?
a b à CPUs
April 14, 2008 7:26:16 PM

darkstar782 said:
The XPS 720 seems to have a standard 24 pin motherboard and 4 pin +12v connector, not one of the older non-standard dell connectors.

The 720 does have a standard 24 pin motherboard connector, but does not have a 4 or 8 pin cpu connector, they use a 20 pin.
http://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/xps720/en...
Click on "power supply" after opening link, to see the connector diagram.
April 14, 2008 7:39:39 PM

I was just going to say, "what about the power supply?" Dell in all their wisdom with their powersupplys...

Get a decent powersupply as well. Dont know whats available where you are at. But Id look at a 600 watt minimum.
a b à CPUs
April 14, 2008 10:31:45 PM

jedynygucio said:
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I bring the following page to your attention?

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CP...

This is a factory OC'd Q6600 from 2.4 to 3 GHz, guaranteed, for only £155 ($310). Would this be an easier, and cheaper choice, than rebuilding the computer?


It's not overclocked, they are guaranteeing that it will overclock.
!