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Upgrading My Dad's Old Work Computer

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April 19, 2012 12:51:42 AM

My Dad works from home on this Dell computer he bought a few years ago. The computer can no longer keep of with his work. When he is working he is usually using a web browser like firefox and and a trading program called Scottrade Elite at the same time. This Scottrade program seems pretty complicated and I'm guessing it uses a lot of CPU. I am looking to upgrade his existing computer or start new, either way I want to use most of his old parts(defiantly: mouse,keyboard, monitor,case). I want to help him be as productive as possible with his computer. The budget will be around $400. This will just be a work PC so no over clocking or video card. Newegg would be great.

This is his current Dell computer :
AMD Athlon 64 X2 socket AM2 940
3 Gig RAM DDR2
300w PSU
micro ATX case
sata HDD and DVD drive


Should I keep this Mother board and just upgrade the CPU? I hear that this AM2 is still well supported.

Edit: micro ATX case


Anything else you would like to know just ask.
April 19, 2012 12:59:29 AM

Part list permalink / Part price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 975 3.6GHz Quad-Core Processor ($129.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: Asus M4A87TD/USB3 ATX AM3 Motherboard ($89.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Patriot Signature 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($40.99 @ Newegg)
Hard Drive: Mushkin Chronos 60GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($78.99 @ Amazon)
Total: $339.96
(Prices include shipping and discounts when available.)
(Generated 2012-04-18 20:58 EDT-0400)
April 19, 2012 1:06:59 AM

yes, AM2 is still well supported. check the manual (or ask dell) how fast and how much memory is supported then max that out, i'd also suggest throwing in a SSD which would make quite a noticable improvement, and maybe a decreet GPU (nothing expensive, just take a load of the onboard graphics).

just to be aware, i find with dells that more often than not the mobo is essentially tied to the case and vice versa. last 2 dells i fixed/upgraded: the HSF was part on mobo utilizing non-standard mounts and part HSF on case, no other mobo would work in that case and no other case would work on that mobo. on another dell i found the FP conectors to be proprietary, no other mobo work with that case and that mobo would work in no other case. just saying don't expect to be able to re-use that case, it might not work with any mobo other than what's already in it.
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April 19, 2012 1:20:14 AM

Part list permalink / Part price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD A8-3850 2.9GHz Quad-Core Processor ($119.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-A75M-S2V Micro ATX FM1 Motherboard ($64.99 @ NCIX US)
Memory: Kingston HyperX 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Hard Drive: Mushkin Chronos 60GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($78.99 @ Amazon)
Case: Fractal Design Core 1000 MicroATX Mini Tower Case ($38.88 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: Antec 430W ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($34.99 @ Amazon)
Optical Drive: LG GH22NS90B DVD/CD Writer ($15.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $393.82
(Prices include shipping and discounts when available.)
(Generated 2012-04-18 21:20 EDT-0400)
April 19, 2012 1:42:09 AM

What exact model is the Dell? I researched mine and the best CPU upgrade I could do was the 95w Phenom II X4. Even Athlon II X4 would be a great upgrade since now the Phenoms are gone.

And if the Newegg servers weren't down right now I could suggest a few!

Other than that, I'd say try one of the new Crucial Adrenaline or Corsair Accelerator SSDs.
April 19, 2012 1:49:01 AM

UVB076 said:
Part list permalink / Part price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 975 3.6GHz Quad-Core Processor ($129.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: Asus M4A87TD/USB3 ATX AM3 Motherboard ($89.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Patriot Signature 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($40.99 @ Newegg)
Hard Drive: Mushkin Chronos 60GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($78.99 @ Amazon)
Total: $339.96
(Prices include shipping and discounts when available.)
(Generated 2012-04-18 20:58 EDT-0400)


That sounds pretty good.

I couldn't tell you the model. We got it so long ago and I think it was custom built.
April 19, 2012 1:56:03 AM

Branden said:
yes, AM2 is still well supported. check the manual (or ask dell) how fast and how much memory is supported then max that out, i'd also suggest throwing in a SSD which would make quite a noticable improvement, and maybe a decreet GPU (nothing expensive, just take a load of the onboard graphics).

just to be aware, i find with dells that more often than not the mobo is essentially tied to the case and vice versa. last 2 dells i fixed/upgraded: the HSF was part on mobo utilizing non-standard mounts and part HSF on case, no other mobo would work in that case and no other case would work on that mobo. on another dell i found the FP conectors to be proprietary, no other mobo work with that case and that mobo would work in no other case. just saying don't expect to be able to re-use that case, it might not work with any mobo other than what's already in it.


Ok, that's interesting. I think the back I/O panel is non replaceable. So yeah i'll need a new one. It's pretty roughed up anyway.
April 19, 2012 10:25:51 PM

How does this look? http://i.imgur.com/UQZ0l.png

I'm going to use a another case I have, his old HHD with the SSD, and his old DVD drive.

Thanks for the feedback!
April 20, 2012 12:25:23 AM

Yeah the other CPU didn't seem like a huge improvement.

Is this CPU 32 or 64 bit or does it not matter?
April 20, 2012 2:24:55 PM

trez said:
Yeah the other CPU didn't seem like a huge improvement.

Is this CPU 32 or 64 bit or does it not matter?

All CPUs since like 2006 have been 64-bit.

FYI if you ever want to pop a gaming video card in that build, it would play games very well.
!