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Upgrading A Dell Dimension 8400?


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#1 Sevein

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Posted 12 November 2007 - 12:26 AM

Dell Dimension 8400
Windows XP SP 2
Pentium 4 3.2 HT Processor
1022MB RAM (5300 speed)
Radeon x1650
SB Audigy 2 Audio


Hello everyone!

Well, as the title says, I am looking into seriously upgrading my aging desktop. As I have read, it would normally be cheaper to just buy another computer altogether. However, with this computer I have already upgraded a few things already (namely the video card, monitor, sound card a year back, etc.) and I know that some, if not all the upgrades could be used in another system if I were to build another. Here are the basics of what I want to accomplish:

More Ram! - However I don't think my current Dell board can support anything faster than the two 512mb PC2-5300 sticks that I have in there now. This means I should probably get a new board.

Cooling - This one is a biggie. This Dell case is just too hot for it's own good. I think I can accomplish this by getting a new case and maybe another fan or two . . . only I have heard that Dell boards don't quite fit into many cases . . . so also looking for a new board.

Faster Processor - although I believe my processor is the least of my worries right now I still think I could do with an upgrade . . . but this will take a new motherboard.

So the common theme between these is my board. And with this new board I will need a new case and possibly ram and cpu. It's been a while since I have had to do any computer hardware related things so I am kind of out of the loop. In short here are my questions:

Does anyone have any experience in upgrading a dell machine? Specifically any tips on either replacing the board or moving it to another case?

If I have to get another board, should I get an intel or an AMD board? (I think an intel board would be a good idea so I can maybe use my current CPU until I upgrade to a (by then) much faster intel CPU) I will also need to know about a compatible case.

Thanks for any help you can give! If you need more detailed information I guess I can post the dxdiag report.

-Sevein

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#2 tg1911

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Posted 12 November 2007 - 01:37 AM

It's my understanding, that Dell mobo's won't work in any case, but a Dell, but I may be wrong.
I'm sure someone will chime in, to either confirm, or deny this.

If that is the case, I have a few questions:

1. What will the computer be used for?
2. What Operating System do you plan on using, and will it be 32 bit, or 64 bit?
3. If a 64 bit Operating System, how much RAM do you want?
4. Do you want to use the same type of RAM?
5. What Form Factor mobo would you want, ATX, or Micro ATX?
6. What processor are you thinking about?
7. Do you want an SLI ready mobo?
8. What type of, and how many of each, I/O ports are required, LAN, USB, IEEE 1394, Parallel, COM, ...?
9. Do you require SATA connections, PATA connections, or both.
10. What size case fans do you want to use, and how many, 80mm, 90mm, 120mm?
11. Do you require case front panel ports, what kind, and how may do you need?

.
.

Edited by tg1911, 12 November 2007 - 01:50 AM.

MOBO: GIGABYTE GA-MA790X-UD4P, CPU: Phenom II X4 955 Deneb BE, HS/F: CoolerMaster V8, RAM: 2 x 1G Kingston HyperX DDR2 800, VGA: ECS GeForce Black GTX 560, PSU: Antec TruePower Modular 750W, Soundcard: Asus Xonar D1, Case: CoolerMaster COSMOS 1000, Storage: Internal - 2 x Seagate 250GB SATA, 2 x WD 1TB SATA; External - Seagate 500GB USB, WD 640GB eSATA, 3 x WD 1TB eSATA

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#3 Sevein

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Posted 12 November 2007 - 02:08 AM

Yeah that's what I heard. I think that I heard somewhere that someone managed to do it . . . but it was much more trouble than it was worth. Oh and forgive my technical "noobness". I know a little . . . but just enough to be dangerous ;p

Let's see if I can answer some of your questions:

1. What will he computer be used for?
I would say mid gaming (I'll have to get a dx10 graphics card soon to keep up with the games). Otherwise it serves typical functions - watching movies, word processing, internet etc. I would like to be able to keep several (around 3) larger HD for my massive (200+gb) music collection, movie/show collection etc. So far I've found that my current setup runs most of the games I play (things like Oblivion) on midhigh to high settings. So, for now, I think being able to transfer the majority of my components to another system would be more cost effective.

2. What Operating System do you plan on using, and will it be 32 bit, or 64 bit?
Well I think that I'll keep my current operating system . . . basically move my current drive over to the new computer . . . or copy my drive onto another larger drive. I may try out vista sometime in the future but for right now I don't see it offering anything i need that xp can't do.

3. If a 64 bit Operating System, how much RAM do you want?
I'm sure 2g would be good . . . if I were to go vista

4. Do you want to use the same type of RAM?
Well, yes and no. If I were to get a new board then I think I would pick up some faster ram (the 800 speed if i'm not mistaken) after a bit. I would also get about 2 gigs of it. I guess I have a small question about that. If I were to get 2 gigs of faster ram, should I get 2 1gig sticks or 4 512mb sticks? Anyway, best case scenario is that I can use my current ram until I get the money for the faster ram . . . but this isn't necessary if it's going to make upgrading in the future much more difficult.

5. What Form Factor mobo would you want, ATX, or Micro ATX?
From what I understand micro atx is basically a smaller build of an atx? At least that's what I get from Newegg. If that is the case I think an ATX would be my choice. (Don't really care about space)

6. What processor are you thinking about?
In the best case scenario I would like to move all my components to a new setup and then change/upgrade as time and funds allow. As I look around it looks like I will have to be replacing the case and the motherboard at the same time. If this is the case then ideally I would like to continue to use the same CPU until I can get a better (dual or amd dual) one. What I am afraid of is that I am not going to be able to find a motherboard that will support my pentium 4 HT (which I've read is sometimes seen as dual core in some applications . . . weird) and an actual dual core processor. So basically, if I can keep the same cpu and save money to upgrade later that would be awesome. If I can't do that, or doing so will severly hurt my ability to upgrade later, then forget it.

7. Do you want an SLI ready mobo?
Well, and correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't SLI a Ndivia dual card thing? If so, I have been a firm believer in the ATI cards for a long time. Not that I am not open to switching, but I don't think that will be necessary. Even "crossfire" support doesn't really interest me since I'm not aming to have a rig that can play every game at the most intense graphics. I really just want to have a machine that can play most/all games at a comfortable level without me missing too much.

8. What type of, and how many of each, I/O ports are required, LAN, USB, IEEE 1394, Parallel, COM, ...?
One lan/ethernet should do it. I seem to use a LOT of USB ports (external drives, mouse etc.) so plenty of them would be nice. I would also love a case that had USB ports that were more accessible!!! I really hate this dimension case - I have to fiddle with it every time I try to plug in my ipod or flash drive!. I'm going to be honest here and say that I have almost no idea what the last four ports are used for . . . . (again sorry for my noobness) I would venture to say that whatever is the "standard" amount of each should suffice. That is unless you have suggestions. Oh and I would like at least one PCI expressx16 slot.

9. What size case fans do you want to use, and how many, 80mm, 90mm, 120mm?
Well the size really doesn't matter to me. About two (maybe three) fans would make me happy! Anything would be better than what I have now. Jesus this thing is an oven!

10. What type of case external ports do you need?
Case external? You mean like external USB etc.?

Thanks again for your help! I am welcome to any and all suggestions.

Edited by Sevein, 12 November 2007 - 02:58 AM.


#4 Sterling14

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Posted 12 November 2007 - 06:16 AM

I use to have a Dell, and Dell motherboards are the only ones that will work in Dell cases or reverse. Mine was micro ATX and could fit into a different case, but the wires from the case to the motherboard are made differently, so you wouldn't be able to turn the computer on.
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#5 tg1911

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Posted 12 November 2007 - 02:25 PM

2.
If that's an OEM version of Windows, I don't believe you'll be able to transfer it, to another system.
OEM versions, are locked to the system they were installed on.

3.
The reason I asked about a 32/64 bit OS, is that a 32 bit OS will only recognize approx. 3.25 GB of RAM.
If your only planning on using 2 GB, it doesn't matter if it's 32, or 64 bit.

4.
For an upgrade, I'd go with 2x1 GB dual-channel.
That way, if you do decide to add more RAM later, and have an ATX board, you'll have 2 free slots to use.
You should be able to use your current RAM, it'll just run slower, and they won't run in dual-channel mode, unless they are a matched set.

5.
The main difference between ATX, and Micro ATX, is the number of expansion slots (PCI, PCI Express).
Micro ATX - 4
ATX - 7
I like the ATX, because the components are more spread out, and it gives me the option to space the add-on cards farther apart, which promotes better cooling, not to mention, some serious upgrading options. :thumbsup:

6.
Finding one that supports Hyper-Threading shouldn't be a problem.
Most of the one's I looked at, support it.

7.
Sorry, I meant to say, "Do you want an SLI/Crossfire ready mobo?"
From what I've been reading SLI/Crossfire, at the moment, aren't really worth the expense.
One good, high-end, PCI Express x16 graphics card, is cheaper, will perform just as good, and generate a lot less heat.

8.
Sorry I forgot to specify here.
I meant rear panel I/O ports (peripheral plug-ins, on the back of the case).

IEEE 1394 Port (FireWire) - high-bandwidth, real-time data transfer between computers, and peripherals, such as camcorders, VCRs, printers, PCs, TVs, etc.
COM Port - low-speed serial data communications, used to communicate with an external device (modem, printer, etc.)
LPT Port - higher-speed parallel data communications, used to communicate with an external device.
It's usually only used for printers.

Here's a glossary of motherboard terminology:
Motherboard Glossary

Here's a couple of tutorials, you might want to check out:
Things to Look For When Choosing a Motherboard
Beginner's Guide to Motherboard Selection

9.
Bigger fans turn less RPM's, to move the same amount of air as a little fan, so they usually generate less noise.

10.
These are the peripheral plug-ins on the front, or top of the case (USB, Firewire, Audio jacks, etc.)
The location of the ports should be dictated, by where you case is going to be located.
On the floor - top mounted ports
On the desk - mid, or bottom mounted ports

If you have the room, a mid-tower case should give you plenty of room inside to mount everything, and still have sufficient space for the case, to breathe.

.
.

Edited by tg1911, 12 November 2007 - 02:27 PM.

MOBO: GIGABYTE GA-MA790X-UD4P, CPU: Phenom II X4 955 Deneb BE, HS/F: CoolerMaster V8, RAM: 2 x 1G Kingston HyperX DDR2 800, VGA: ECS GeForce Black GTX 560, PSU: Antec TruePower Modular 750W, Soundcard: Asus Xonar D1, Case: CoolerMaster COSMOS 1000, Storage: Internal - 2 x Seagate 250GB SATA, 2 x WD 1TB SATA; External - Seagate 500GB USB, WD 640GB eSATA, 3 x WD 1TB eSATA

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#6 Sevein

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Posted 12 November 2007 - 03:47 PM

Wait, so I may not be able to simply transfer the drive on this computer to another board and case and still have xp work? Weird . . . I'll have to figure that out in time. (After I figure out what to buy I will need to figure out all the specifics of installing and transferring the equipment. This will come later though.)

Ok so this is what I am thinking . . . I will do this upgrade in several "waves":

Wave 1

A new spacious case that has:
-built for an ATX board.
-room for at least one 120mm fan and possibly one or two smaller fans. (Could use some advice on how many/what size on this one. Looking for low noise, so as tg suggested bigger seems to be better.)
-top mounted external ports since this will probably go on the floor.

A new ATX board that:
-supports both a HT pentium 4 (for now) and dual/quad cores (in the future)
-raid optional but not needed. (I would prefer to not have it because a lot of boards that I've seen that are raid compatible are much more expensive.)
-ready for about 3+ ata/Sata Drives
-can use my older DDR2 667 ram until I can get something along the lines of 2g (2x1gig sticks) of DDR2 800.
-has at least one PCI Express x16 should do it - I don't think I need to run multiple video cards in this computer yet.
-firewire etc. are optional at this point, but could be useful for future upgrades.

A new power center of ~500w (unless the old Dell power center will work . . . any tips on this?)

Wave 2

Upgrade the ram to 2g (2x1gig sticks) of DDR2 800.

Add another Sata drive of ~ 500gb

Wave 3

Upgrade the processor to dual/quad core




I now have a better idea of what I need, but finding it is pretty difficult . . . So, could the experts here point me in the direction of a few case/board combos that may meet these needs (and won't cost a college student too much)?

THANKS A BUNCH FOR YOU HELP!!
-Sevein

Edited by Sevein, 12 November 2007 - 03:56 PM.


#7 Sterling14

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Posted 12 November 2007 - 06:38 PM

For my new build, I used my same hard drive from my Dell and the windows xp disc. It worked out fine. Put it on a new XFX 650i board with all new parts. Then again, my friends been having trouble with using his xp disc from Dell on a build, but there might be something else wrong we don't know about.
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#8 DaChew

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Posted 12 November 2007 - 07:38 PM

just drop another gig of ram in the computer, it's only 32$ at crucial right now

http://www.crucial.com/store/listparts.asp...208400%20Series

get an esata case and kit, you should have plenty of free sata internals

build your own hard drive
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#9 Budapest

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 01:24 AM

If you have an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) version of Windows XP and you want to upgrade the motherboard you will have to purchase a new copy of XP.

Users who run a Microsoft Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) operating system may upgrade or replace most of the hardware components on the computer and still maintain the license for the original Microsoft OEM operating system software provided by the OEM, with the exception of an upgrade or a replacement of the motherboard. An upgrade or a replacement of the motherboard is considered to create a new personal computer. Therefore, Microsoft OEM operating system software cannot be transferred from another computer. If the motherboard is upgraded or replaced for reasons other than a defect then a new computer is created, and a new operating system license is required. If the motherboard is replaced because of a defect, the user does not need to acquire a new operating system license for the computer. The motherboard replacement must be the same make and model, or the same manufacturer’s replacement or equivalent, as defined by that manufacturer’s warranty. The reason for this licensing rule primarily relates to the end-user license agreement (EULA) and the support of the software covered by that EULA. The EULA is a set of usage rights granted to the end-user by the computer manufacturer. The EULA relates only to rights for that software as installed on that particular computer. The System Builder is required to support the software on that individual computer.

How to replace the motherboard on a computer that is running Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, or Windows 2000
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#10 tg1911

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 01:30 AM

Thanks for the information, Budapest.

Here's an explanation, as to why you won't be able to move the harddrive, with the original OS pre-installed, to your new system (thanks to dc3, for the link):
Moving a Hard Drive to a New Motherboard

Case
For a case, I can recommend the one I'm using:
Rosewill R5604-TBK

It's cheap - $40
Solid as a rock, and heavy
2 x 120 mm fans (front intake, rear exhaust)
2 removable/washable filters (front fan, side intake vent)
Plenty of room
4 External 5.25" Drive Bays
5 Internal 3.5" Drive Bays
7 Rear Expansion Slots
Top mounted front ports - 2 USB Ports, 2 Audio Ports, 1 Firewire Port

One of the main things I like about it, is that the harddrives mount in the drive bays, from the side, instead of the back.
This keeps all of the wiring out of the way, of the front fan, promoting better airflow.
Here's what mine looks like, with the motherboard, and one of the hardrives, mounted:
Case_01
Case_02

Motherboard
I recommend you go to an online store, and see what they have to offer.
Go through, and pick out several that interest you, then start Googling them for reviews.
Read lots of reviews.
If there are any major problems with them, somebody will bring it up.
Also read customer reviews, regarding the manufacturers customer service.
Here's a NewEgg link to P4 compatible mobo's, to get you started:
Core 2 Duo / Pentium D / Pentium 4 / Celeron D

As far as RAID goes, I haven't noticed that big of a price difference in mobo's, that support it.
Maybe, a couple of dollars.

Power Supply
Can recommend the SILVERSTONE ST50EF-Plus 500W - $100
Excellent reviews, in fact, I haven't found a single bad one, and more cables than you'll probably ever need.
It uses a 120mm exhaust fan, and is pretty quiet.
Whatever you decide, don't scrimp on the power supply!!

.
.

Edited by tg1911, 13 November 2007 - 02:49 AM.

MOBO: GIGABYTE GA-MA790X-UD4P, CPU: Phenom II X4 955 Deneb BE, HS/F: CoolerMaster V8, RAM: 2 x 1G Kingston HyperX DDR2 800, VGA: ECS GeForce Black GTX 560, PSU: Antec TruePower Modular 750W, Soundcard: Asus Xonar D1, Case: CoolerMaster COSMOS 1000, Storage: Internal - 2 x Seagate 250GB SATA, 2 x WD 1TB SATA; External - Seagate 500GB USB, WD 640GB eSATA, 3 x WD 1TB eSATA

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#11 Sevein

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 03:44 AM

Wow thanks for the information guys!

Quick question . . . I see now that I won't be able to move the drive over w/ the OS still installed. That link buda gave me described how to "reinstall" the OS for the new motherboard and all. But how can you tell if you have an OEM version? I mean, I have the install disk from when I got the computer . . . but from what the link says, I will still need to purchase a new license is required because of the new board right?

If so, this brings one more question to add to the mix. From your personal experience do you believe it worth it to upgrade to vista instead of "renewing" my XP license? I mean, if they are going to make me spend some money to relicense then I might as well upgrade if it's worth it.

Again thanks for all the help!

#12 Budapest

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 03:52 AM

Right click on My Computer > Properties > General tab. If your product ID has the letters OEM in it like this:

xxxxx-OEM-xxxxxxx-xxxxx

then it's an OEM version.
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#13 Sevein

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 03:56 AM

Right click on My Computer > Properties > General tab. If your product ID has the letters OEM in it like this:

xxxxx-OEM-xxxxxxx-xxxxx

then it's an OEM version.



Awesome. Looks like it is. (I had a feeling it was . . . just made sense to me.)

Thanks buda!

Looks like I will be needing that license or OS upgrade when I change case/board.

Edited by Sevein, 13 November 2007 - 04:11 AM.


#14 tg1911

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 07:29 AM

Personally, unless there's a specific reason that you need Vista, I'd stay with XP.
Like all new releases of an Operating Systems, Vista has a few bugs, that have caused problems for people.
At least with XP, MS has most of the bugs worked out. :thumbsup:

If your going to be building a new system, the OEM versions of XP aren't too expensive:
Microsoft Windows XP Home With SP2B 1 Pack - OEM - $89.99
Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 w/SP2B - OEM - $114.99
Microsoft Windows XP Professional With SP2C - OEM - $139.99

OEM Disclaimer:

Qualifying proof of purchase must be recent receipts showing the purchase of a mother board, hard drive, RAM and a CPU. The components can be on multiple receipts; not necessarily all on one receipt nor on the same receipt as the qualifying Windows XP/Office 2003 that you purchased


The Retail versions are considerably more expensive, but require no qualifying hardware purchase, and if necessary, you'd be able to transfer it to another system:
Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition with SP2 - Retail - $194.99
Microsoft Windows XP Professional with SP2 - Retail - $286.99

.
.

Edited by tg1911, 13 November 2007 - 07:31 AM.

MOBO: GIGABYTE GA-MA790X-UD4P, CPU: Phenom II X4 955 Deneb BE, HS/F: CoolerMaster V8, RAM: 2 x 1G Kingston HyperX DDR2 800, VGA: ECS GeForce Black GTX 560, PSU: Antec TruePower Modular 750W, Soundcard: Asus Xonar D1, Case: CoolerMaster COSMOS 1000, Storage: Internal - 2 x Seagate 250GB SATA, 2 x WD 1TB SATA; External - Seagate 500GB USB, WD 640GB eSATA, 3 x WD 1TB eSATA

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#15 Sterling14

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 07:10 PM

Wait a minute, then how did i reinstall windows xp fine? I put the disc from Dell in and everything went well, it still even says OEM under system info. I didn't have any problem activating it either. I'm using an XFX nvidia 650i board.

Edited by Sterling14, 13 November 2007 - 07:13 PM.

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