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Upgrade 6 year old Dell!

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May 12, 2008 6:57:17 PM

Hey everyone,

So my parents have a dell pc that they got back in '02 - P4 2.6ghz 512kb ram, basically nonsense. Anyway, I was thinking that I would help them with a nice upgrade. So first of all they do no games, strictly office and web browsing, pictures, etc. No editing, none of that. I set up a few basic components featuring an AMD 4200+ and an MSI K9NGM4 with onboard gfx. I plan to reuse the case and IDE drives (dvd burner and a dvd drive.) And I think I will OC a tad, maybe to 2.8 or so possibly.

https://secure.newegg.com/NewVersion/WishList/MySavedWi...

So, if you kind fellows wouldn't mind just making some suggestions, I would greatly appreciate it. I have never really dealt with AMD before, I just went with it because it was a little cheaper, as I would ideally like to keep the total price under ~$300-350 since I wont be needing a graphics card/optical drives/case/monitor.

Thanks a lot!

More about : upgrade year dell

May 12, 2008 7:17:01 PM

Honestly, for what they are doing, that P4 is not nonsense. Also,they really don't need a 2.8Ghz dual core to begin with. I went from a 3Ghz P4 to an e2200 and Open Office, Office 2K, and web browsing aren't any faster or slower. In fact, they run about the same speed as a 1Ghz Athlon I use as a backup system. Why not just buy them another Dell so you don't have to do ALL the troubleshooting?
May 12, 2008 7:31:48 PM

well, it all started out as an upgrade to the hard drive since it's only 80gb, and my mom just got a hauppage tv recorder and the drive's starting to fill up so I was just going to grab a bigger hard drive. Since all the programs take forever to open (Firefox takes like 30 seconds at least to start up) I thought i'd throw a little more memory in, but since the mobo has no sata or ddr2 capabilities, things spiraled into more components including a mobo and cpu...

EDIT: Dell sucks, dont need a whole new computer, plus I want to build it - it's fun!
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May 12, 2008 7:32:51 PM

like ^ said . the system they have is fine for the listed tasks and if that's all they do, they will not even notice the increased performance of an upgraded system.
May 12, 2008 7:35:32 PM

How can there be no performance increase? I'm basically looking for applications to open faster and everything to not be so unbearably sluggish.
May 12, 2008 7:45:12 PM

Personally, I think you are wasting your time thinking of upgrading most of the components. You say you have 512 mb of ram, upgrade it to 1gb or more and that should improve performance. Also, defrag the hd and run all spyware/antivirus apps. Double check the startup to see if the system's clogged with startup programs and disable them. I have a 6 year old dell and it still runs fine, but a little sluggish when compared to my c2duo. However, I blame the IDE hd's since they are limited by their cable. You might invest in another newer and faster hd and install the os on that.

Otherwise, putting in an amd x2 would theoretically improve a little performance, it is not noticeable if you aren't multitasking. Better off investing in a new system.

good luck
May 12, 2008 7:45:14 PM

If you mean to say that computer has 512 MB RAM, perhaps a move up to 1 GB is in order along with another hard drive. Actually, you could probably add a 1 GB stick for $30 or so (since this PC is just used for basic tasks, we don't really care about matching RAM or anything.) However, even with 512 MB RAM, those applications should be nowhere near unbearably slow. Perhaps a format is in order?
May 12, 2008 7:51:02 PM

Considering it's six years old, besides upgrading RAM (which everybody else already mentioned), the best upgrade you can do should actually be... guess what, reinstall XP. No, not recovering grom a goddamn dell image, but reinstall clean-slate from an OEM winXP. You should still have the cdkey somewhere, just find it. Or, do a repair install if you really hate the idea of wiping out c:\windows. Either way you should see HUGE performance boosts, just that it's not as painless as upgrading ram. Oh yeah, and clean out all the dust in the heatsinks too, will help tremendously towards stability in a 6 year old machine... which should already have all the fins completely clogged up. (should be a no-brainer, but I gotta mention that)
May 12, 2008 7:55:56 PM

Yeah ok, I will do a reformat (I have done at least 2 throughout its life) and hopefully that will help it out. I just wish it had sata, a new hard drive was all i was really after in the first place. thanks guys.
May 12, 2008 8:01:49 PM

Put in a SATA controller card in a pci slot and you can have raid with SATA hard drives like you want. Those cards tend to get expensive and you may be able to get a cheap one for 30-50 bucks + the cost of the hard drives.

I personally think the reformat would be best and add another 500 or 750gig IDE hard drive for the cheaper route.
May 12, 2008 8:05:40 PM

I just found out that the dell 8250 motherboard uses RDRam, which if i read correctly it would not be possible to upgrade with SDRam which is what is used now. If I want to upgrade the memory i must get a whole new board then? or is there some fancy thing i can do to magically make it work?
May 12, 2008 8:06:07 PM

#1 - The Machine is fine for the stated purposes. As others have said, do a clean install.

#2 - We can't see what parts are you "Upgrading". Is it everything except the case and DVD writer? I hope your upgrades include a new PSU. In such a case, I think you may be better off selling the old system instead of dumping upgrading. An empty case and a DVD Drive are not saving you much and you could get a new case and new dvd drive and still have money in your pocket.
May 12, 2008 8:06:31 PM

My parents are still happy with the P4 3.0 system I built for them years ago. They access the internet and use office apps too. I am also still using my P4 3.0 system.

However, we have 2G memory (DDR 400). We are both running XP.

My only reason to upgrade my system is to use Vista and play games. I am a programmer and need to install Visual Studio 2008.

So, your parent's system could use more RAM, a system cleanup (run hard drive tools), and maybe get RegSupremePro to clean up the registry. You can either get them a bigger HD or an external one they can put data on.

EDIT:
I see that your mobo uses RDram. You are screwed (unless you want to spend over $540 on 1G of it). So, a system upgrade may be necessary. But, you are going to have to buy a new version of XP or go to Vista. The Dell disk will not work on a new system (from what I have seen in other posts).
May 12, 2008 8:08:55 PM

CPU - $57 shipped!! Plenty for your desired tasks.
AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ Brisbane 2.2GHz 2 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM2 65W Dual-Core Processor - Retail

Mobo - $80 shipped!! Has just about everything you need! Has the latest onboard GPU that is the best you can get right now. Mobo also supports Phenom, if you desire to upgrade later.
BIOSTAR TFORCE TA780G M2+ AM2+/AM2 AMD 780G Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail

Memory - $69 - $35 MIR = $35!!! One of the best and fastest DDR2 800mHz CAS 4 (4-4-4-12) RAM.
CORSAIR XMS2 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory - Retail

HD - $130 shipped!! Fast and large. Should hold them for quite some time.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... Barracuda 7200.11 ST3750330AS 750GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM[/url" target="_blank">

Total = $336 - $35 MIR = $301!!!! Not a bad deal at all.
May 12, 2008 8:15:18 PM

Get a new IDE hard drive and the 1GB RAM since it's cheap and allows the OS to stay memory resident and be done with it. Since you are going to a new HD no need to reformat just install fresh to it then copy over data from the old drive.
May 12, 2008 8:20:06 PM

Thanks lunyone, I'm not sure what i'm going to do anymore. I would really like to put in more memory, but the damn motherboard is a stupid piece and I cant. I guess for now Ill just reformat and see where that takes me and then figure out if I need to get more memory. Until that point, I dont want to buy a new IDE hard drive in case I end up buying a new motherboard to upgrade ram in which case I would have sata. If I get a new board I need to decide on a 478 socket to reuse my current cpu or a whole new chipset and cpu. See what I'm dealing with here? It's an endless cycle!
May 12, 2008 8:21:34 PM

I wholehartedly agree with the above posts. Over spring break my sister was complaining about how slow her P4 based laptop was. (its like an HP Dz8000 or something). I reinstalled XP and upped her to 2Gb ram for $50 and she swore she had a brand new system.
May 12, 2008 8:22:13 PM

If only it was that easy, Aragorn, but the dell motherboard is too old - it only supports RDRAM!
May 12, 2008 8:25:16 PM

Ram and hard drive = top of my list. need new board in order to upgrade ram, in which case i would have sata for a hard drive thus eliminating the IDE idea. If this were the case, should the board be socket 478 for existing cpu or newer socket for new cpu? DAMN IT ALL!!!
May 12, 2008 8:30:31 PM

Ok since the board doesn't support regular DRAM, here's what i'd do:

CPU: AMD Dual core Sempron @ 1.8 Ghz
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Mobo: Biostar mATX mobo with on-board graphics and all the basics
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM: 2Gb OCZ DDR2-667, plenty fast, cheapest on the egg
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Hdd: Western Digital, 80Gb, Sata. Use the current HDD as extra storage.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total comes to about $170 + shipping.
May 12, 2008 8:40:14 PM

A lot of those Dell cases arent ATX standard. If you switch out the motherboard you may need to get a whole new case.
May 12, 2008 8:51:38 PM

dammit uguv, you ruined my day.
May 12, 2008 8:51:50 PM

just kidding thanks for that info
May 12, 2008 9:22:57 PM

uguv said:
A lot of those Dell cases arent ATX standard. If you switch out the motherboard you may need to get a whole new case.


this applies to the psu also. dell was using psu connectors with proprietary pin outs for some time. so if u get a new mobo u may need a new psu also. something to check out for sure.
May 12, 2008 9:32:03 PM

You could still use the IDE HD and 1 DVD drive on the supplied 1 EIDE port on the mobo. There are other mobo's out there that support 2 EIDE ports (up to 4 IDE drives), but they are only limited amount. I'd also be curious about the PSU too, but hopefully that won't be an issue.
May 12, 2008 9:32:37 PM

I hate to say it, but with this low of a budget you can't beat the outlet store at Dell. For $300, you can get a E2160 C2D, 320GB SATA HDD, DL DVD writer, Vista Premium license, 2GB 667 RAM, and of course case, PSU, keyboard and mouse.

I know that if you build/upgrade yourself you can get higher quality parts and the satisfaction of the build but I'm just throwing out another option out there just in case the XP reinstall doesn't work wonders.

Nobody commented on DXRick's observation that you will need to purchase a new Windows license if you do a major upgrade that includes the motherboard. That will eat up ~$100 of your budget alone unless they are willing to try Linux.
May 13, 2008 2:27:30 AM

Ok, I have an old dell dimension 4550 with a p4 2.4ghz. It does have 1-1gb stick and a 256 stick of ram, instead of your 512, but that should do fine for now. A reformat should be just fine. My system came with an os disk only, use that and the motherboard drivers and you should be good to go. It makes a world of difference if you haven't reformatted in at least a year.
That's free right there so give that a shot first.
May 19, 2008 8:36:24 PM

Hey so I just did a fresh install of XP and it seems to be running quite smoothly. A gig or so of ram might do this beast well, but unfortunately not an option. Thanks for suggesting the reformat though, it worked very well!
!