doing some fall cleaning and staring at a couple of old dell pcs - a 2400 and 2 dell 4700s. one 4700 is currently in use and will stay that way for at least a few more months . the other two are in various states - bits and pieces have been parted out over the years but they are not beyond repair.
in any event, apart from donating the currently unused pcs to the local thrift shop, i'm wondering if anyone could put forward some ideas for reusing these machines for other purposes (and, no, i don't mean as doorstops!). I'm well aware of the inability to boost performance on these prefabs so that's not much of a consideration but perhaps some of you have some ideas and stories from your own experiences.
file server - if you have a lot of HDD space
team speak + router/firewall server - teamspeak if you only use it
htpc is only an option if the cpu is half decent (P4 w/ HT might work, w/o HT might be a tad too slow) and you can put a gpu in there (basically need a PCI-e x16 slot)
personally, before i replaced my S939 system (Athlon 64 2.4GHz + 1GB DDR-400) with the new HTPC i used it as a file server + router + firewall
certainly have the hard drives though as you probably know these old dell cases don't have a ton of room inside. something else which may sound a bit dumb but i really just don't know the answer:
these pcs have two built in sata cables and a couple ide cables. is it possible to expand the number of sata outs or are you stuck with what you got? even if it is possible, perhaps it's unwise?
already with the one that i got functioning again i think the heat dispensation of a caviar black and a wd green require an additional fan but otherwise it's not a bad general purpose pc when maxed on ram.
i'm curious to know, did you find that the use of an old pc as a router had advantages over any existing store bought router? i've read contrasting views on this (how strange!!!) most discussions on turning pcs into routers that i've come across recently seem to address portables as routers for the purpose of giving other portables a connection in a pay for access environment.
perhaps the thing to do is to simply get some of these running again, give one to my 4 year old to get comfortable with and give the others to some families in need? the dells are pretty cheap as parts go. the only reason we had as many as we did was that it was part of a business package years back.
anyone else care to comment? the silence makes me think that perhaps these suckers aren't even worth the feedback at this point. oof!
you could buy a pci SATA card to get more sata ports (sure it wouldn't allow for super fast drives, but who cares)
the WD Green wouldn't be an issue for heat really, but the cases dell uses typically only have room for 2 HDD's, either mod the case to fit more drives or get a new case if at all possible (didn't look up the models, they might be that wonderful BTX format)
the advantages to using the computer as a router is that you have a lot more room for customization
giving them away is always a good idea, i still know some families that are without a computer at all so anything is better than nothing, just remember to clean the HDD out (though as these were part of a business package i assume they will be or are already)