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Dell Dimension 5100 processor upgrade

Last response: in CPUs
January 13, 2011 8:21:59 PM

Hi guys,
I am new here at Tom's forums, but I've been watching you guys for many months here and based on your advice to others in need, I've made some upgrades to my sister's Dell Dimension 5100. It's a Pentium 4 HT, 2.8GHz machine.

I bought and installed a used Sapphire Radeon X1550 256MB 128-bit card instead of the old ATI Radeon X300 128MB Hypermemory card she had before and I added 1GB of RAM for a total of 1.5GB DDR2 400MHz RAM. The RAM is running in dual channel at 800MHz. She had only 512MB of RAM before and her computer was slow and unstable. She has Windows XP SP3. Now, after installing these upgrades, her machine boots in 40 seconds and it's super stable. Before, it took a few minutes. The machine is really responsive and she is much happier which makes me happy.

I am planning to install Windows 7 for her birthday in a few months and I was thinking it would be cool to double the RAM to 3GB, change the hard drive from 80GB to 320GB and then replace the processor as well in order to make Windows 7 a little peppier. I've got a Windows 7 Professional upgrade disk from Dell, a 320GB SATA hard drive for free from a friend and I've got 2x1GB DDR2 400MHz brand new sticks. I will put these new components on the day of Windows 7 installation.

Do you think the CPU upgrade is a viable option on her machine. What CPU options are available for Dell Dimension 5100? I did a lot of research already, but everything seems very risky. I don't want to fry the motherboard or something else because I don't have money for repairs and neither does my sister. I also want to make sure BIOS recognizes that new processor. I found a good deal on Pentium D 945 3.4GHz, but I don't like the 95W power consumption because of fear that it might fry the motherboard. What about Pentium Dual-Core E2180 or E2200. Are they compatible? Dimension 5100 uses Intel 945G Express chipset, but I found out that the last Dell BIOS update for Dimension 5100 was in August 2006 (A03 Dell BIOS update).

Guys, please advise and let's discuss this because I don't want to upgrade CPU if it's not a sure-fire thing. Thank you for your efforts.
a c 159 à CPUs
January 13, 2011 8:46:00 PM

I wouldn't do it; chances are the board is too old for any core2 duo cpu; the last p4's (3.6 and 3.8) were good for foot warmers, some of the warmest cpus Intel ever made. You'd have to get another heatsink for those; I would buy her a new one instead and sell the old one before spending any more on it; Jan is the end of the quarter (and year) for dell, so deals should be available this month.
January 14, 2011 10:32:24 PM

What about Pentium D 945 3.4GHz? Is that possible without frying the motherboard. Would BIOS A03 update from August 2006 be OK with this Pentium D or are we gambling here?

My sister uses her machine just for surfing internet, Youtube and e-mail. Is Pentium 4 HT (Hyperthreading) going to be fast once I install Windows 7 Professional on it. The computer will have 3GB DDR2 RAM at that time. For XP she has 1.5GB right now.
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a c 159 à CPUs
January 14, 2011 11:34:46 PM

The ram upgrade will help more. If you live in the states, look for some used on craigslist. Skip the bios flash; it's too risky and may not improve the cpu options.
a b à CPUs
January 15, 2011 3:19:56 AM

if you havent read this it can help
that 945g chips support PentDs.
also core 2 duos depending on motherboard
I would stick with the PentD 945 it is a safer compatibility chance
I have one in my parts closet.
It is a decent office/media/light gaming chip and will keep you warm in the winter :) 
also the P4 2.8 ran about 85 watts so your heatsink/fan should be ok.
I would seriously consider a little extra cooling maybe a pci slot fan or CD drive bay fan that is easy to install.

January 15, 2011 6:45:31 AM

o1die said:
The ram upgrade will help more. If you live in the states, look for some used on craigslist. Skip the bios flash; it's too risky and may not improve the cpu options.

The BIOS A03 update (August 2006) was recommended for Dimension 5100 by Dell on their website in order to support newer processors made in 2006. My issue with it is that I don't know if those newer processors will include Pentium D. I tried calling Dell, but they are saying Prescotts only for Dimension 5100. They seem to be out of touch and not computer experts at all. There are a lot of people that installed Pentium D, but with a minor error at the boot up. Are you saying that BIOS updates, in general, are a bad idea? I don't know much about BIOS so that's why I am asking. I really appreciate your help in this matter.
January 15, 2011 7:44:57 AM

king smp said:
if you havent read this it can help
that 945g chips support PentDs.
also core 2 duos depending on motherboard
I would stick with the PentD 945 it is a safer compatibility chance

I heard that a lot of people are getting an error after installing Pentium D on a Dell Dimension 5100; is that error something that can be resolved or one shouldn't be concerned with it? The error says something like: "Alert! Incompatible processor detected - Press F1 to continue".

Best solution

a b à CPUs
January 15, 2011 9:47:29 AM

Sometimes Dell, HP and other companies have a custom BIOS to prevent system tampering like overclocking or installing unsupported devices. Perhaps your board and chipset can support Pentium D, however, the manufacturer could have the BIOS set up to prevent you from installing things they do not officially support.

To give you an example, I had a couple of Dell and HP laptops and I wanted to upgrade the wifi chips from 802.11g to 802.11n... however, after installing the new wifi chip, the system would boot and tell me that it is incompatible with the system and wouldn't boot any further. They were locked to only accept broadcom chips, and atheros wouldn't let it boot to the OS, and only showed the unsupported hardware warning.

You better try calling a local Dell service shop and ask their advice, I know the main numbers are useless about this kind of thing. If you got a Best Buy or a Microcenter around you, their repair departments can usually answer you about this too. :D 
January 16, 2011 11:22:32 AM

Best answer selected by coilaman.
January 27, 2011 6:07:28 PM

Found this on a dell forum:


You can use Socket LGA-775, Prescott processors only, Dual Core, Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad processors are not supported.

More information HERE.



I've seen this "Bev." person on quite a few Dell threads so I assume she's a customer service person. Here's where I found it:
April 30, 2012 11:27:34 PM

I have a dell Dimension E510 that used to have a Pentium 4 3.0ghz and i bought a new Pentium D 2.8ghz off of newegg for $20 bucks. it runs a lot faster but i get that "Alert! Incompatible processor detected" message every time i turn it on. All you have to do is strike F1 and it boots up normally. It gets a little annoying but the extra speed that came with the Pentium D was very worth it. And sorry for opening up an old thread.