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Any easy way I can check if a partial computer I found is good?


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#1 Jay_is_bored

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 04:27 AM

Someone threw out a computer tower, so kept it. A photo of it should be attached to this post. My main question is, if all I did was add a hard drive and attempt to install Windows, would that be enough to tell me if the computer works?

 

If it's junk, then my son will have fun taking it apart. He loves using my tools to take electronics apart. He insists on being the one to do everything, unless a screw is too tight. One time we were taking apart another DVD player, and right when I pulled the top part of the shell/cover off, my son got excited and said "Look! Capacitors!" And he's 3 years old.

 

But I would like to have a second computer if I could for almost free. The tower is very very dusty, so I'm going to use my air compressor and clean it outside. And the computer is old; there is a sticker on it that advertised that it had Windows XP.

 

It has some parts, and is missing others. It has the power supply, DVD drive, motherboard, seemingly all the wires, CPU with giant heat sink and enormous fan to cool the heat sink.

 

It does not have a hard drive, graphics card, or any memory in the expansion slots. I have a couple big hard drives that can work. And I have three different older graphics cards, although I don't know if they would be compatible with the mother board. I don't have any memory though.

 

Are graphics cards and memory just to improve a computer? Do computers come with a crappy graphics processor built into the motherboard for if no additional graphics card is added? Or would installing a graphics card be completely necessary? Also, same thing with memory. Is additional memory good to have, or is it absolutely required?

 

(...also, I have an extra monitor too.)

 

fEw5LRO.jpg


Edited by Jay_is_bored, 03 July 2017 - 04:36 AM.


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#2 Just_One_Question

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 04:34 AM

Hey, there is no photo attached to your post unfortunately.

Some motherboards have a graphics processor built-in (especially newer ones), but some don't and in those cases you'd have to add a compatible graphics card (check what slots does the motherboard have under the CPU. In that era somewhat popular were those blue AGP slots for video cards or maybe those beige PCI (non-express) slots).

Not too sure, but I don't think any PC can function without RAM. The most popular type of the Windows XP era was DDR (1) or DDR2.

Hope this helps.:)



#3 Jay_is_bored

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 04:36 AM

Sorry, I was having trouble getting the photo attached. It's there now.



#4 SleepyDude

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 05:14 AM

Hi,

 

Its a Dell computer can you find and post the Service Tag.


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#5 Jay_is_bored

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 06:07 AM

I cannot figure out how to upload an image to this website so I can show it in a post. I used another website last time, but now that site is giving me an error.


Edited by Jay_is_bored, 03 July 2017 - 06:08 AM.


#6 Jay_is_bored

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 06:18 AM

Is this it? The only other tag was the windows tag with the product key.

 

Also, I used another third party image hosting site for this. If someone would let me know what to do so I can post an image to this site, I would really appreciate it.

 

vipgzm.jpg



#7 SleepyDude

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 06:31 AM

Can you confirm the machine matches this:

http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/04/product-support/servicetag/drlzlc1/configuration?lwp=rt


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#8 Jay_is_bored

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 06:48 AM

I'm going to say that is most likely it. There are a lot of things that match. But then there are things that I cannot find out, such as the size of the monitor.

 

The only thing that does not match, is that webpage says it has a CD drive, but this one has a DVD-RW drive. However, it doesn't look like it was professionally installed. Probably upgraded to DVD-RW afterward.

 

There are lots of things that match though: It is an Optiplex 320, had Windows XP, it uses the exact same tower, it has a Pentium 4, and the service tag number matches (though I'm guessing that's how you found the link).



#9 ranchhand_

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 08:02 AM

Just to jump in here with a thought: it looks like this is an old XP machine, note the flat ribbon cables, etc. If so, this may even run Windows 98 as well as XP.  In that case (no pun intended) :cowboy: you can load some old DOS based games. Some of these were pretty good, such as Wing Commander: Price of Freedom, Mech Warrior 2 and 3, Star Control and older DOS games. I have an old Windows 98 computer that I keep and kids that come over love playing these games.

Just a thought.

Start testing by trying to boot something; try running Memtest 86+ to test the memory; it runs from the CD drive so no hard drive is required, and if it runs that tells you that it will function.

You can pop in a video card just to make connection and test; possibly you can download the drivers for that card off the manufacturer's website. Your big problem is memory; old memory can be expensive, Ebay is probably the only place to find it. Check out Amazon also, sometimes they may have a vendor that specializes in old memory. Unfortunately, you are dead in the water without memory.

Also, check the motherboard for damaged capacitors, fairly common in older machines. If you find those blown, you are pretty well shot since that means a new motherboard is required.  I have a canned tutorial on this as follows:

 

 Capacitors look like small, "Quaker Oats" round boxes set on-end. They are commonly silver color, but can be black, green or brown. The tops of these should be perfectly flat on top; if there are any that are bulging upward, and if there is "goo" on the tops, possibly running down the side, or even on the bottom, that capacitor has failed. Even if the cap to is bulging with no electrolyte seeping out it is bad.

 There are many capacitors on a motherboard, some large and some small. Check them all. The easiest way to do this is disconnect the desktop computer and lay it on its side with a bright light shining in, even a flashlight is good.

Additional info link:   http://badcaps.net/pages.php?vid=5

Note the pictures on the right hand side

Anyway, it's a fun project.


Edited by ranchhand_, 03 July 2017 - 08:19 AM.

Help Requests: If there is no reply after 3 days I remove the thread from my answer list. For further help PM me.


#10 SleepyDude

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 08:04 AM

I'm going to say that is most likely it. There are a lot of things that match. But then there are things that I cannot find out, such as the size of the monitor.
 
The only thing that does not match, is that webpage says it has a CD drive, but this one has a DVD-RW drive. However, it doesn't look like it was professionally installed. Probably upgraded to DVD-RW afterward.

 

Te information on the website is the original configuration its possible that they did some upgrades along the way.

 

There are lots of things that match though: It is an Optiplex 320, had Windows XP, it uses the exact same tower, it has a Pentium 4, and the service tag number matches (though I'm guessing that's how you found the link).

 

Exactly :)

 

Now its possible to answer some of your questions.

 

You need to install some memory at least 512MB 533MHz DDR2, there is a integrated graphic card ATI Radeon X300 so you don't need to install one for the test.


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#11 SleepyDude

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 08:05 AM

Duplicated post...

Edited by SleepyDude, 03 July 2017 - 08:06 AM.

• Please do not PM me asking for support. Post on the forums instead it will increases the chances of getting help for your problem by one of us.
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#12 MadmanRB

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 08:07 AM

Yeah try some RAM but you may be better off cannibalizing this especially the hard drives.

Sata to IDE adapters do exist so there that.


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#13 SleepyDude

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 08:16 AM

Yeah try some RAM but you may be better off cannibalizing this especially the hard drives.
Sata to IDE adapters do exist so there that.

 

The machine accepts Sata HDD's. To test if the machine works installing an HDD isn't mandatory the OP can use a Linux live CD/DVD to boot from.


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#14 Jay_is_bored

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 08:37 AM

That's awesome news. Thank you! No need for a graphics card to test it, and a stick of that cheap RAM on Amazon is only like $5 including shipping.

 

But after I read your post I looked on Amazon a bit. It is cheap, but it seems that for 512MB 533MHz DDR2 there are two main configurations to the gold contacts. One type has two equally long rows of contacts, and the other has a long row and a short row. In that first picture I posted of the inside of the computer, does the memory go into the two rows above where the CPU is? If so, then the RAM should be the first configuration with equally long rows of contacts...I think.

 

Also, as long as the gold contact configuration matches the slot in the motherboard, and as long as it's 512MB 533MHz DDR2, is there anything else I would need to know so as not to purchase the wrong kind?



#15 MadmanRB

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 08:43 AM

 

Yeah try some RAM but you may be better off cannibalizing this especially the hard drives.
Sata to IDE adapters do exist so there that.

 

The machine accepts Sata HDD's. To test if the machine works installing an HDD isn't mandatory the OP can use a Linux live CD/DVD to boot from.

 

 

 

Made my comment just in case IDE drives were installed, cannot see the interfaces in the pics :D


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