Dell XPS 420

Hi there, first time poster on Tom's Hardware.

I made an incredibly stupid purchase around November 2008, and bought myself a Dell XPS 420 costing me around £1300 with screen, speakers and some gaming gear.

In terms of the computer, i soon came to realise that it was really not worth it.

Here are the hardware specs:

q9400 2.66ghz
6gb RAM
ATI Radeon 3870x2 GPU 1gb
425w PSU.
750gb Hard drive.
XFI Xtream gamer soundcard.

I bought a bunch of hardware peripherals along with this, but i'm more than fine with them.

Ideally i'm looking at upgrading my RAM to a faster speed, since it's currently only 667mhz at the moment.
However the main issue I'm haping is upgrading the graphics card.
Ideally i want a 4870 x2. However i'm pretty sure my PSU will not be able to handle this, or will it?
If not, any recommendation on a new PSU?

I'm also thinking about overclocking, however currently i'm pretty sure that the stock stuff dell has given me is not any good for this. Again, any ideas?

Also i'm pretty fed up of the locked up dell bios, so i'm considering even changing the motherboard.
Any ideas to what i should do?

I'm rather confused since I know how a PC works in theory, yet i've never reallyd one anything more than change RAM.

Android Man
16 answers Last reply
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  1. To upgrade to the 4870s, you'll need to upgrade the PSU. I would suggest something like the Corsair 750w.

    With the locked down Dell BIOS, there's not much you'll be able to do, as far as overclocking goes. If you decide to upgrade the motherboard, then you'll want to look at RAM, once you've chosen a motherboard.
  2. would my motherboard be able to work with a 5870 after i get the new PSU?

    also i mean i'm about a £400 budget

    so is the ram upgrade essential?

    also would you say its worth upgrading my cpu? or cooling methods?
  3. As long as the case has the room, yes. The 5870 is a pretty long card.

    No, you don't have to upgrade the RAM, but it needs to be compatible with whatever motherboard you choose. If your current RAM is supported, you can stick with it. If you've got the $$, it's a good idea to upgrade though.

    The CPU upgrade can be costly. If it suits your needs, there's no need to upgrade. The q9400 is a decent CPU.

    Keep an eye on your temps. If they are getting high, then yes, you'll want to look at some cooling options.
  4. Thanks for that!
    Well I have a 3870x2 installed currently and theres still quiet a bit of space remaining.

    Is it possible to crossfire the 5870 with my 3870x2?
  5. It is possible, but it's not recommended to crossfire different graphics cards. There's a lot of difference between your two cards specifically, so I think you would have even more trouble than others. Here's an article that deals with this.

    The 5870 is ~11 inches long. If you're thinking of spending that kind of $$, it's worth measuring to see if you have enough space. Keep in mind you may need to run cables around it.
  6. Personally, I'd be extremely hesitant to put a 5870 in that case. The 420 uses a BTX motherboard and a specialized cooling hood. The 5870 would likely fit but the fan on the card would be partially obstructed by the hood itself which is going to limit its effectiveness. This coupled with the fact that there really isn't much in the way of airflow in there to begin with and I'd be concerned that you are going to have potential heat related issues that will ultimately start affecting components. If you decide to go this route, you will definitely need a new PSU as the stock supply on those boxes is a 375.

    You may want to consider the merits of putting together a new system. The case doesn't lend itself well to upgrading and with the BTX motherboard you aren't going to be able to just transplant the components into another one.

    I've added the link to Dell's site for this particular unit. One of the images there displays the computer with the side panel off. It'll give you an idea of what you'd be dealing with.
  7. well if you mean but the big plastic hood over the heatsink- that's deatchable anyways- in fact it seems to have no use whatsoever.

    But yeah as you said- by putting in a 5870 i'm ost likley going to overheat. Would installing an independant spot cooling fan or two solve this?
  8. It definitely has a use. Those cases are designed to funnel the air from the front fan directly through the hood to the heatsink and the processor itself. I would definitely not remove it unless you installed a new fan and/or heatsink for the processor itself and I don't know that the motherboard has the necessary attachment points for it.

    As for the additional fans, every little bit helps. You really only have one place to put them unless you are willing to modify the case by cutting a hole in the side panel. I've seen folks do that with the XPS 410 which is very similar.
  9. Yeah i might just get a new case, new motherboard new PSU and just keep the hard drive, ram and processor.

    What about running the 3870x2 in crossfire with the 5870? is that possible?
  10. I'm not an expert on crossfire so I can't really speak to that. I can say that the 5870 alone would probably be more than enough for your GPU needs. It's a pretty beefy card.

    As for pulling old components from the 420, if it was me, I'd harvest the HDD and the DVD drive. If you use the other components, you'll be limiting your potential upgrade path later as you'll again have to go out and purchase a new motherboard and RAM to support the CPU upgrade. Plus the older components can sometimes run at something of a premium because they aren't mass produced any longer and tend to be less available.
  11. you see with a £500 budget i'm limited

    surley my core to quad is enough? as long as i gen an i7 compatible motherboard, i can upgrade in the future.
  12. They use a different socket. Most of the i7s use the 1366 socket. The i7-860 being notable in that it is uses the 1156 socket.
  13. i may just wait in that case until next year when my system becomes even older until i upgrade and i7 comes down in price

    how much would you say my 3870x2 is worth? and are there still any potential buyers?
  14. I'd take a look at eBay and search for that processor to see what others might be asking.
  15. If your budget is tight, you may want to look at the 5770 or the 5850. They are a little cheaper. If you end up with a motherboard that supports it, you can add a 2nd card down the line for xfire.

    The q9400 uses a 775 socket, which isn't compatible with any of the i7's, i5's, or i3's.

    If you're thinking about doing an overhaul, you can sell your whole system, and combine that cash with your current budget. That may get you a decent system.
  16. We also have a classifieds section down near the bottom of the forum.
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