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Updating old Dell Dimension 4100

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September 22, 2012 10:31:50 PM

I still have my first computer a Dell Dimension 4100. Here are the specs..
https://support.dell.com/support/edocs/systems/dzuul/sp...

It still works fine, but I would like to make some upgrades. I would like to keep it as a low end working computer for simple tasks and net surfing. I'm willing to keep the 200w PS. I would like to add more memory. This computer only carries 9.5 GB of memory. The connections to the old HD and other hardware are IDE. My biggest problem is finding a motherboard that will fit this case. Probably a motherboard with IDE and SATA connections. So I can keep one of the old HD's and disk drive. I can add a low end processor (cheap). Replace the RAM if necessary. The inboard graphic card should be enough. Just asking because you guys have helped me out in the past. I can always expect great advice. I don't think this is a costly project. I would prefer to keep the old case..love the case.

September 22, 2012 10:53:44 PM

I suggest you leave it as is and don't waste dumping money into it. It's too old. Save up if you have to for a recent technology machine. You can easily get one for your general purpose for about $300-500.
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September 23, 2012 7:40:23 AM

Can I at least add more memory..a larger hard drive?
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a c 105 B Homebuilt system
September 23, 2012 7:56:29 AM

The problem with upgrading a machine that old is the second you touch anything, the rest of it will need to upgrade. New CPU will require a new mobo, which will require DDR3 RAM, the mobo change will require you to get a SATA HDD (only a few very expensive modern mobo's support IDE), new optical for the same reason. Given that some pre-built components are outside ATX standard, to put in a new mobo will require a new case. The PSU will have to go, a generic unit of this age just shouldn't be trusted, and you will need something bigger than 200W. A new Mobo will require a new OS install, and I bet the XP (or Win98) this machine is running is getting somewhat outdated.
Long story short, you are going to end up with a whole new PC if you try to upgrade it. Might as well build a new one outright instead of even trying.

Also, Memory =/= Hard Drive.
Memory refers to the RAM. HDD space/capacity is what you mean.
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September 23, 2012 9:40:13 PM

manofchalk said:
The problem with upgrading a machine that old is the second you touch anything, the rest of it will need to upgrade. New CPU will require a new mobo, which will require DDR3 RAM, the mobo change will require you to get a SATA HDD (only a few very expensive modern mobo's support IDE), new optical for the same reason. Given that some pre-built components are outside ATX standard, to put in a new mobo will require a new case. The PSU will have to go, a generic unit of this age just shouldn't be trusted, and you will need something bigger than 200W. A new Mobo will require a new OS install, and I bet the XP (or Win98) this machine is running is getting somewhat outdated.
Long story short, you are going to end up with a whole new PC if you try to upgrade it. Might as well build a new one outright instead of even trying.

Also, Memory =/= Hard Drive.
Memory refers to the RAM. HDD space/capacity is what you mean.


Yes, I meant capacity. I now realize that it's futile to upgrade an old Dell computer. A new motherboard will not fit in this case. But I'm wondering if I could just add more capacity without changing anything else. Is this possible?
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a c 105 B Homebuilt system
September 23, 2012 10:36:46 PM

You should be able to put in another IDE hard drive, though it will be somewhat tough to find one.
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September 23, 2012 11:30:44 PM

Also any way for me to add a wireless adapter on this computer? Not sure what would work on this old computer.
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a c 105 B Homebuilt system
September 24, 2012 11:55:29 PM

SDRAM is for use in laptops, you need proper 240-pin desktop RAM. I dont think you will be able to find a stick, even of old DDR2, thats less than a GB.

You dont have to take out the old HDD, just hook that one up and do the various things in windows to initialize and format it.

Any PCI wireless NIC will do.
Rosewill Card. $15
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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Best solution

September 25, 2012 7:03:21 PM

About the only thing worth doing is adding a wireless network card. Those come pretty cheap these days. I bought a Rosewill branded one from NewEgg (I think it was $15) and it works great. Really, upgrading the memory and hard drive with NEW components is a complete waste of money. I would try for used... see if you can snag a memory card that matches what you need. You might be able to go up a little in the specification, perhaps a slightly higher MHz operating speed, just by replacing the memory that is there. Just be sure to get the right memory, so check up on the specifications and see what the maximum performance memory is supported.

I have an old Dell XPS T600 Pentium II 600MHz with 768Mb of RAM that still works reasonably well with Windows XP. This was my first major computer purchase that I upgraded a little bit over time. I've seen these sell for as little as $35 (without shipping) on eBay. You might be able to snag a non-working computer for very little if it's local to you, then cannibalize it for parts. I'd go that way, rather than spending the same amount of money on just one new component.

One other thing... you may not realize it but some flavors of Linux operating systems can be installed very lean and run much faster than good old Windows XP. They're a great way to get an old PC working better for you, if you're still determined to hang onto the hardware.
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September 26, 2012 2:39:44 PM

neiru said:
Would this be any good?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

and for memory since it can maxed to 512mb total..
http://www.crucial.com/store/mpartspecs.aspx?mtbpoid=9B...

would these work? I just noticed taking the old HD out of this case is going to be a mission.


Take a look at Craigslist in your town. I see IDE HDDs all the time and they will be much cheaper than buying new because IDE is no longer the standard. You can probably get a 200GB HDD for $20 or so if it is IDE.

And yes, you can upgrade the memory. 512MB isn't great but certainly better than 256mb. The tool on the Crucial website should confirm that you have the compatible memory.
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a c 105 B Homebuilt system
September 26, 2012 3:08:23 PM

Aristotelian said:
I see IDE HDDs all the time and they will be much cheaper than buying new because IDE is no longer the standard. You can probably get a 200GB HDD for $20 or so if it is IDE


I thought it was the other way around, and that IDE HDD's are only getting more expensive per GB because they aren't being manufactured anymore, hence becoming scarcer.
WD Caviar Blue 160GB. $90
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Somehow I don't think that even second hand you would be able to get an IDE HDD at a decent price, and who knows how old and close to failure it would be.

At this point you would get better value per GB (and performance) by buying a PCI - SATA card and a 1TB SATA HDD. This would also mean the HDD can move to a future rig as well.
PCI SATA card. $25
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
1TB Seagate Barracuda 7200RPM SATA HDD. $90
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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September 26, 2012 4:18:33 PM

manofchalk said:
I thought it was the other way around, and that IDE HDD's are only getting more expensive per GB because they aren't being manufactured anymore, hence becoming scarcer.
WD Caviar Blue 160GB. $90
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Somehow I don't think that even second hand you would be able to get an IDE HDD at a decent price, and who knows how old and close to failure it would be.

At this point you would get better value per GB (and performance) by buying a PCI - SATA card and a 1TB SATA HDD. This would also mean the HDD can move to a future rig as well.
PCI SATA card. $25
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
1TB Seagate Barracuda 7200RPM SATA HDD. $90
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


I have definitely seen used IDE HDDs on Craigslist for cheaper than new SATA HDDs. Yes, the supply of new drives is low, but that is because demand is low. I would not spend $90 on a new drive for this computer, but it may be worth a $20 used HDD to keep it running a while longer.
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October 3, 2012 6:02:39 AM

Best answer selected by neiru.
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October 7, 2012 4:33:41 PM

neiru said:
What about this HD from newegg?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

IDE 120GB for $30. I can try to find something cheaper. I don't think it's necessary to get a SATA or to get a 1TB HD for this computer.

That HD is discontinued, and it's a Maxtor... run from Maxtor, especially their older IDE drives. I had two of them and they both started suffereing from sector issues with the file tables getting bogus data (sometimes showing the drive as absurdly larger than it really is).

You're probably right, that new IDE drives will sell higher than they used to because of the scarcity. But used ones should be insanely cheap. That's because they're used and may already be past their 50% lifespan threshold. The lucky find would be an old computer that didn't see much use, leaving the old IDE HD a long life ahead.
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April 18, 2014 2:40:39 PM

Im sorry I found this Forum looking for the info on this system, I need to know the MAX memory it can handle.......

And for all to know there is this great little site call PRICEWATCH.COM you can find anything on there even old pc66 ram.

I have to system up and running with Ubuntu 12.04 on it right now. Its running but slow. Memory is the most I'll add it has 512mb in it......
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