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Upgrading an old beast - Optiplex gx280 CPU compatibility

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September 3, 2012 10:15:19 PM

Hey everyone, this is my first post on the forums here, and let me just say I've been researching computers for a while and this site's info ROCKS!! Anyways, looking to fix up and sup up an old Dell Optiplex gx280. Here are my specs:

Optiplex GX280 Full Tower (I think, considering its massive)
Pentium 4 - 3.0 ghz
4gb of original RAM
19'' nice 1080p vizio screen
planning on buying the HD 6850
160gb WD1600 HDD
iHas 124-04 B (for all you xbox hackers ;) 
915G Chipset

I have a few questions. First off, will I see a large performance improvement in adding the HD 6850 graphics card? As in being able to play Skyrim on medium?

Will Windows 7 64 bit be a problem? I have XP 32-bit right now.

What is the best CPU I can upgrade to? I have read around and supposedly the pentium 4 650 @ 3.4 ghz is the best you can get with my setup, but once in a while I see someone who has a Pentium 4 Extreme Edition or some dual core processor in their gx280. Am I missing a BIOS update? There's also a few posts talking of the pentium 4 662 @ 3.8 ghz, some say its compatible, others dont.

As far as power goes, should I upgrade to something more than the stock 250 watt? Perhaps a 500 watt for the graphics card and extra HDDs? And are PSU's plug and play? I've never replaced one.

Also, I cant find anything about overclocking in regards to the gx280 with pentium 4. But usually there is some sort of modified BIOS out there, which is also eluding me. Anyone have overclocking experience with this chipset or the gx280 in general?

I know its a lot, just looking for anyone's input! Thanks a lot, you guys are the best!

September 8, 2012 10:35:18 PM

GX280 can't handle dual core, only hyper threading. You will need a 64 bit CPU for Win7 x64. Also, I ordered the pentium 4 662 @ 3.8 ghz off of ebay, and it doesn't work. I'm using the XG280 right now so trust me bro, it's the truth. Put it in and BIOS says, "Incompatible CPU detected."

You'll want to upgrade that power supply too. When I started throwing drives and the nVidia 8400GS into this beast I had lots of BSODs before I put in the 480 watt PSU.

I'm pretty sure that the HD 6850 will work in the GX280. It's a PCIe 2.1 which has almost the same PCIe spec as my PCIe 2.0 card (the nVidia 8400GS) which does work.
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September 8, 2012 10:56:13 PM

Thanks a lot, and can I ask the brand and model of the 480 watt psu you're using? I think you need a special type for this dell motherboard, or at least thats what I've read, so I'll just go with the one you are using because it will for sure work.

Do you play games on your gx280? If so, how does it hold up as far as framerates for newer games?

Thanks again.
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September 8, 2012 11:16:07 PM

Are you sure you want to keep the MB and upgrade the CPU? Given you are spending for an HD 6850, and planing up spending for an upgrade CPU, A new MB and processor and memory to replace the p4 would be a good plan.

$200 gives you a modern setup. I used the parts from here: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-pc-overclock...

CPU Intel Pentium G860, 3 GHz, Dual-Core, 65 W, $90. Get boxed and use stock cooler.
MB Gigabyte GA-B75M-D3V, Intel B75 Express, LGA 1155 $70
Mem G.Skill NS 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) DDR3-1333 Memory Kit $24

G860 kills anything you can put in a P4 MB. This not a perfect compare, but you can see what I mean http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/92?vs=404
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Best solution

September 9, 2012 3:48:09 AM

The PSU is just a cheap CaseGear Black Steel. It just needs a 24 pin connector to fit the mobo. Here it is:
http://www.xoxide.com/casegears-black-steel-480w.html
I got it off new egg a couple of years ago, but it looks like you can get it from this site even though it's discontinued. Note: I had to cut the sheet metal out of the back of the Dell Chasis behind the PSU to be able to plug the power cord into this thing. That's why only certain ones will work, because the switch and the power plug don't fit into the small hole in the back for the stock PSU.

As far as games, I don't really play any newer ones. I really just want the thing to go fast when I'm multitasking (Which is all of the time). There's no harware virtualization support from the stock CPU and I'm not sure if there are any CPUs with that feature that are compatible with the GX280. This makes running multiple virtual machines less than blazing.

This GX280 does handle HD video just fine though, and Windows sees two CPUs thanks to hyperthreading. With my 4GB of RAM (I think the 4th GB goes to shared video memory in 32bit Windows) and the decent GPU along with "two" CPUs (according to windows) this thing really doesn't lag at all. Virtual PC, TV Tuner, and Internet or whatever all run just fine together on multiple displays.

tsnor is right though, new mobo and cpu will kill what you got. Especially for the gaming.
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September 9, 2012 9:03:39 PM

Best answer selected by Shane1027.
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October 12, 2012 4:44:47 PM

tsnor said:
Are you sure you want to keep the MB and upgrade the CPU? Given you are spending for an HD 6850, and planing up spending for an upgrade CPU, A new MB and processor and memory to replace the p4 would be a good plan.

$200 gives you a modern setup. I used the parts from here: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-pc-overclock...

CPU Intel Pentium G860, 3 GHz, Dual-Core, 65 W, $90. Get boxed and use stock cooler.
MB Gigabyte GA-B75M-D3V, Intel B75 Express, LGA 1155 $70
Mem G.Skill NS 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) DDR3-1333 Memory Kit $24

G860 kills anything you can put in a P4 MB. This not a perfect compare, but you can see what I mean http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/92?vs=404


Sorry for the delayed response, I actually stumbled onto this old thread by means of a google search! Anyways just an update, I ended up sticking to a 100 dollar budget, including the graphics card, and things worked out very well! Here's what I did:

- Corsair builder series 500w PSU (a little case grinding needed) ($35.00, newegg)

- sold stock ram, upgraded to 4gb corsair XMS2 performance ram ($38.00, eBay)

- GTX 465 1 gb, flashed with a 470 bios, only $50 on craigslist!!

- sold the vizio screen, wasn't 1080p, picked up a 20'' acer one for $40.00

- drivers were a problem, but worked that out with a few hours of frustration

- went with a used pentium 4 650 @ 3.4ghz overclocked to 3.6 ($11.00, eBay)


And so far everything works like a charm! Even replaced thermal paste on the GTX 465 so OC-ing should be fine. Fallout 3 runs like butter, 30 fps on ultra (no AA) and new Vegas about 42 on medium with AA x 4. Haven't tried skyrim yet but as looking forward to it.

I may end up selling this build and using the money for the parts listed thought for the $200 build, as I think I've reached the bottleneck in this computer with a single core processor. Next time I upgrade my graphics card, I'll probably put out for a whole new system. Thanks again guys.
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June 5, 2013 10:12:49 AM

maf90 said:
GX280 can't handle dual core, only hyper threading. You will need a 64 bit CPU for Win7 x64. Also, I ordered the pentium 4 662 @ 3.8 ghz off of ebay, and it doesn't work. I'm using the XG280 right now so trust me bro, it's the truth. Put it in and BIOS says, "Incompatible CPU detected."

You'll want to upgrade that power supply too. When I started throwing drives and the nVidia 8400GS into this beast I had lots of BSODs before I put in the 480 watt PSU.

I'm pretty sure that the HD 6850 will work in the GX280. It's a PCIe 2.1 which has almost the same PCIe spec as my PCIe 2.0 card (the nVidia 8400GS) which does work.


IDK man, I'm running an Intel Pentium 4 650 3.4GHZ CPU http://www.ebay.com/itm/Intel-Pentium-4-650-3-4-GHz-3-4... in 64 bit mode, 4GB ram, NVidia 8500GT in a small form factor case and it runs perfect and fast.

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August 31, 2013 11:17:00 PM

jason9922 said:
maf90 said:
GX280 can't handle dual core, only hyper threading. You will need a 64 bit CPU for Win7 x64. Also, I ordered the pentium 4 662 @ 3.8 ghz off of ebay, and it doesn't work. I'm using the XG280 right now so trust me bro, it's the truth. Put it in and BIOS says, "Incompatible CPU detected."

You'll want to upgrade that power supply too. When I started throwing drives and the nVidia 8400GS into this beast I had lots of BSODs before I put in the 480 watt PSU.

I'm pretty sure that the HD 6850 will work in the GX280. It's a PCIe 2.1 which has almost the same PCIe spec as my PCIe 2.0 card (the nVidia 8400GS) which does work.


IDK man, I'm running an Intel Pentium 4 650 3.4GHZ CPU http://www.ebay.com/itm/Intel-Pentium-4-650-3-4-GHz-3-4... in 64 bit mode, 4GB ram, NVidia 8500GT in a small form factor case and it runs perfect and fast.



Just a question about you running 4GB on a GX280 - even with 64bit do you see all 4GB as usable or just 3GB ? :) 
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