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Upgrading circa 2003 computer to gigabit

Last response: in Networking
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January 7, 2009 5:55:23 PM

I have a circa 2003 Dell Inspiron XPS model WHL (Pentium 4, 3.0Ghz, 1 Gb ram) that I am now using as a Windows Home Server. This is working well but I would like to improve the speed of backups from my new i7 PC that I use for video production.

I am assuming the major bottleneck is my 10/100 Mbs home network. I would appreciate someone reviewing what I plan to do and see if I am missing anything.

Here is what I currently have:
- Dell Inspiron XPS model WHL with Intel PRO/100 VE network adapter. Documentation that came with the computer indicates the "integrated network interface is capable of 10/100/1000 communication" but under Device Manager I find an Intel PRO/100 VE. Online documentation (and its name) suggests this NIC is only capable of 10/100 Mbs.

- Dell XPS Studio i7 with Gigabit NIC.

- Linksys WRT54GP2 10/100 Mbs router

Here is what I plan to do:

- Add a NETGEAR GS105 10/100/1000Mbps ProSafe Gigabit Desktop Switch hanging off the existing router, and connect these two computers as well as a couple other computers to the switch.

- Replace the Inspiron XPS's Intel PRO/100 VE network adapter with LINKSYS EG1032 10/ 100/ 1000Mbps PCI Network Adapter

Possible Issues?

- Currently I am using ATA 100 IDE drives in the Inspiron XPS. Later I will be changing to two large SATA drives which the Inspiron XPS does support. Will the current IDE drives become the new bottleneck once I go to Gigabit?

- Is there anything else I should be considering here?

Thanks,

Jerry
January 9, 2009 2:39:24 AM

First, upgrading only make sense if your backup traffic never goes out of your home network since your ISP speeds are never comparable to gig speed.

Yes, to achieve gig speeds, you need to put all participating PCs under gig switch.

It is hard to tell whether your ATA drives will become bottleneck. You test it out by backing up a large file and profile your XPS on how much processing time has been spent on hard drive I/O. I doubt it will be a bottleneck. Anyway, you test it out before you go out and purchase new ones. They are plentiful nowadays anyway. Btw, your XPS motherboard may not have SATA connections in which case you may have to buy additional PCI/PCI-E/PCI-X card.

Anything else? Well, consider buying drive with large buffer cache, at least 2 MB but 8 MB is better. Buy from seller with reputation. You can also improve overall processing power by upgrading your CPU with large cache: 1 MB or 2 MB (4 MB or above are for multi-core CPUs).
January 9, 2009 9:26:46 AM

JustAGuy, thanks for the informative reply. I picked up a D-Link gigabit switch and PCI gigabit NIC and installed them last night. My backup of my video PC took about two hours which is a signifcant improvement and quite acceptable for me.

As has been my experience with D-Link, the install was dead simple - took all of ten minutes to get everything replaced and running. Truly PnP.

Also, for future reference of anyone looking at this thread, I mistated the description of my PC - it is a "Dimension XPS", not "Inspiron XPS".

Again, thanks for the help.

Jerry
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