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Future-Proofing

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January 10, 2008 6:36:11 PM

Hello everyone! I was just looking at the new XPS 420s and I was wondering, what would I have to do extra to future-proof it? Here is the spec of the one I have my eye on:

Intel® 2 Quad-Core™ Processor Q6600 (2.40GHz, 1066MHz, 8MB cache)
Genuine Windows Vista® Home Premium - English
Base Warranty - 1 Year XPS Premium Hardware Support (incl. Gaming and On-Site Support)
4096MB 667MHz Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM [4x1024]
640GB Dual Hard Drive Raid 0 Stripe (2x320GB - 7200rpm)
SINGLE 768MB nVidia® GeForce® 8800 GTX graphics card
TV Tuner and AVIO / Accellerator
16x DVD+/-RW & 48x CDRW/DVD Combo Drive
Sound Blaster® X-Fi Xtreme Gamer PCI Soundcard
19-in-1 Media Card Reader

I would like to know, how much I would have to spend in the future (about 5 years or so) to make sure it is still good. It looks like a very powerful computer, but with regards to overclocking, is it a good computer?


Thank you in advance,
RN321

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January 10, 2008 7:55:32 PM

RN321 said:
but with regards to overclocking, is it a good computer?


Thank you in advance,
RN321


In regards to overclocking, it's not good at all. Dell locks thier bios to prevent user's from messing things up and requiring warranty service.
There is software that allows some overclocking on some Dell's ( I've used it on my XPS410 ) but it doesn't allow for much overclocking. I was able to take my 2.13 up to 2.66 but it starting locking up, 2.5 was about the max stable I could get ( not enough to make it worth it ).
If overclocking is what you're after build your own.
January 10, 2008 8:33:36 PM

To"future proof" you should build. Dell or any other mfg will do things like limit what you can do in the BIOS as DellUser1 points out and sometimes modify the mobo so you can not use a standard PSU. This means you can be limited in the upgrades you can do. Also, will that board run the Penryn should you decide to upgrade? That is a powerful machine and should last five years depending on what you do but you will be limited in future upgrades.
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January 11, 2008 12:16:54 PM

There is a way to make your own bios for that board, its worth a try if the chip-set is not bad and you like it or thinking of getting a new board then trying to do this yourself would be the time +your getten great experience with bios editing. never advance without taking a chance
January 11, 2008 1:56:42 PM

Thanks everyone!

But with this Dell, can I not get a better cpu or motherboard, for example, at all when the current one become obsolete? I'm sure I can make upgrades like, put the memory up to about 8gb with the 64 bit version of Vista, can't I?

Or can I use this as a sort of base, and swap parts in as they come out?
January 11, 2008 2:13:24 PM

With the Dell you will be able to add/upgrade hdd, optical drives, video card, and add more of the same RAM depending on the number of slots. It's difficult to know whether you could upgrade to a Penryn. Most Q6600 will allow for an upgrade but Dell significantly limits what you can do in the BIOS and will make other changes on the board. By limiting what you can do in the BIOS, you may be limited to what RAM to can upgrade to. You'll also be very limited in overclocking. You could call Dell and hope you get someone that knows what they're talking about and would be honest, not just spew the company line but I think this would be a long shot. I think the best working assumption would be you can't upgrade the CPU or the RAM above DDr2 800 with no overclocking other than what Dell allows in the BIOS. You may be able to do these updates but I wouldn't buy any off the shelf machine with plans to do this. If you really want to get a machine that you can upgrade within the limits of the mobo, you really either need to build or buy from someplace like jncs that uses all name brand parts and doesn't do anything proprietary. There are likely some local builders where you order the parts and take them in for assembly. Latter 2 options will cost you more than a Dell while building will cost you less. If you've never built, suggest you check out the Manuals for a Gigabyte P35 DS3L and ASUS P5K E and see if you are comfortable with following the instructions. Don't worry about all the stuff on the BIOS at this time
January 11, 2008 2:27:54 PM

The board uses an X38 chipset and the claim is that it is ready for the next gen 45nm cpu's, so there should be no problem with an upgrade there.
As far as the motherboard, it's still a borked BTX style so I'm 99.9% sure you would be out of luck with that, unless Dell makes one available, which is highly unlikely.
January 12, 2008 8:32:26 AM

Thanks Everyone!

I don't really have the time ot patience to build my own, so I'm probably gonna just buy this one. Overclockinh, isn't essential but would have been life. But, hypothetically, if I really wanted a brute of a machine, could I upgrade the RAM from 4x1024 to 4x2048? Also, could I put in a second gtx GC? But, I have heard that there's a lot of pros and cons between the 8800 gtx and gts. So I thought, would it be good to get them both, or would they not be compatible? Finally, can anyone tell me please whether the Vista Home Premium I selected was 64-bit or 32-bit? The reason I am asking is because I have heard that the max RAM for 32-bit is 4GB, but for 64-bit, it's a whopping 8GB!

Thank you for your help!
January 12, 2008 8:37:34 AM

Sorry about the double post, but apparently I'm not allowed to edit my message. I would like to know what is the point in 2 monitors? Would that be for gaming and work, for example, at the same time? Or would you use both monitors for gaming?
January 16, 2008 3:19:54 PM

Well lets see. 4gb should be plenty of RAM. The board they use allows for ATI's multi GC set-up, not NVidia's so no you could not add a second GTX. To answer the second GC question, no a GTX and GTS would not work together in SLI. You can still run both at the same time just not in an SLI fashion. The max memory for a 32-bit OS is more like 3.25-3.5 gb. For the 64-bit versions: Home Basic-8gb
Home Premium-16gb
Ultimate-128gb
AS for dual monitors, they can be used for either configuration you mentioned. I believe the game needs to support dual monitors though. What my brother used to do was run a game on one screen and have a web page or instant messenger on the other.
January 18, 2008 1:57:47 PM

So I also just purchased the XPS 420 from dealsea.com's posted savings. Comes with a lot for under $1k so I couldn't pass it up.

I talked to a dell tech guy and he told me that the board that they use:

1) is not SLi capable
2) will only take ram clocked to 800 or less (up to 4gigs)
3) will take only a Q6700 cpu max
4) is intel X38
5) only supports up to 2TB hd space
6) will not overclock at all for the fsb, ram, or cpu because the bios is fixed ( I am sure there is a way around it)

I believe that if the psu was upgraded on this unit it could take a better graphics card but mine came with a 8800GT so I have no complaints. I think this will be a solid pc for a while, and it beats what I have now. It's no where near bottom of the line and once I install vista ultimate, add a second dvd drive, floppy, and a second hd I will be set.

My old system still running until Wendesday next week I built on my own back in 2000:

Dual PIII 1GHz, 512 pc800 rambus, 80gig seagate, and a Geforce 5600 added much later to upgrade my TNT2... can't wait for the new pc!!!
January 18, 2008 9:20:48 PM

You can't always take what the Dell techs say as fact.
1. True
2. Yet to be seen.
3. False, it is offered with the QX9650, if you want to spend another $1350
4.True
5. 2TB hard drive space is more porn than you could watch without going blind.
6. Clockgen may allow for some overclocking.
January 18, 2008 9:54:39 PM

Thanks for this info... I will check out the board once it arrives next week. Fedex says its on its way. Then I will post the model so that others can know what they are getting into. Dell won't tell me what model they are using or if it is something that they had made specific for Dell PC's. All I can find online is that its an Intel chipset and the 720 series is an Nvidia chipset.

I know the Tech's aren't always right... they seem to have a very limited sheet of info to pull from. I think the biggest issue I see with overclocking this machine aside from the controlled bios is going to be the 425W psu. That is a litte small to be asking much performance from. Then again I am not a really experienced overclocker.

Do you think since it supports the QX9650 it will also support the Q9550? I think that is going to be a nice cpu for the price and can't wait to see some decent reviews on it.
January 18, 2008 10:22:31 PM

The psu is something you may want to check first, as I understand it the 425 watt model is only for machines that were ordered with the 8800 GTX, so you may end up with the 375 watt unit.
Since the board supports the QX9650, the Q9550 should be no problem.
January 19, 2008 3:29:27 AM

375W is pretty weak. I have an extra Thermaltake 450W psu in my current machine... but I think I would go for a more quiet antec 680W or something if I had to replace the one that comes with this dell. What can I say... even with newegg I can't build this machine for less than 1K so I got a deal even if the psu is weak.

XPS420 Specs:
Intel® 2 Quad-Core™ Processor Q6600 (2.40GHz, 1066MHz, 8MB cache)
Genuine Windows Vista® Home Premium - English
3GB 800MHz Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM [2x1024 2X512]
500GB Hard Drive 7200rpm
SINGLE 512MB nVidia® GeForce® 8800 GT graphics card
Blueray combo drive

January 19, 2008 10:05:08 AM

Limvostov said:
375W is pretty weak. I have an extra Thermaltake 450W psu in my current machine... but I think I would go for a more quiet antec 680W or something if I had to replace the one that comes with this dell. What can I say... even with newegg I can't build this machine for less than 1K so I got a deal even if the psu is weak.

XPS420 Specs:
Intel® 2 Quad-Core™ Processor Q6600 (2.40GHz, 1066MHz, 8MB cache)
Genuine Windows Vista® Home Premium - English
3GB 800MHz Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM [2x1024 2X512]
500GB Hard Drive 7200rpm
SINGLE 512MB nVidia® GeForce® 8800 GT graphics card
Blueray combo drive


Not as weak as you might think
My XPS 410;
C2D E6600
8800GTS OC
4x512 memory
Dual 160 gig HD's
Dual DVD
FDD
Firewire Card
Sound blaster card
3 LED fans plus the 2 standard fans
Stock psu
January 19, 2008 1:01:57 PM

Good to know I will not be in too bad of shape once it gets here. Also I should tell ya thanks for mentioning clockgen. I would never have looked into that program if you hadn't.

Only a few more days of the dual PIII, and then... its time to play Crysis. (QIII is getting really old) :D 
January 20, 2008 7:18:25 AM

Aside from the others suggestion. Need HD Optical Burner.

More Hard Drive Capacity, with the new format change on Videos, ever changing resolution format of Cameras, and higher quality sound of Audios.

Upgrade if the need to attain latest gadget is irresistibly unavoidable.
January 24, 2008 2:30:47 PM

Okay... so I got the XPS 420 yesterday and got it all set up. It runs much faster than my old pc and after I installed Vista Ultimate it looks great.

Mine did come with the 425W psu. However, when I opened the case I was asstonished at how crammed everything was. I would have a hard time upgrading anything other than the ram on this board. In fact I looked for extra power connectors to hook up my extra hd and dvdr drive and I had to choose between the two because there is only one extra power connector that fit. I am going to have to get some cables to remedy this.

Also vista does not recognize my logitech 5.1 Z5500's so I will have to tinker with that for a while and enjoy the fullness of my two front speakers in the meantime.

The heat sink on the psu is enormous (Literally 5" or so tall) There are two fans pulling air in. One over the hd and one directly over the cpu heat sink. No exhaust fan...but this thing is totally silent.

As far as components go... well the ram, gpu, and motherboard are so devoid of all brands except Dell stickers that I have not been able to determine what kind of components I have in my system. I will have to take a closer look later.

Love the performance though. (Vista Ultimate uses 1.5GB of my 3GB ram to run on full settings. :)  )
February 23, 2008 6:41:08 PM

That souns good.

By now you woulknow why vista is not recognize your Z5500.

I guest you now know what is your next upgrade as well. My guest, maybe a Tower Case?

Good Luck with your system.
!