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Old 11-17-2005, 01:33 PM   #1
ozymandias
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General: Overclocking a Dell

After a lot of new threads about the possibility of overclocking dell's, it's time to make a sticky (we don't have that much of them in this forum so there is space enough).

A few rules:

Basically, you can not overclock a Dell. They were not designed for this, and let me explain why:

Dell uses custom made parts. Those parts were designed to be as cheap as possibile for the system (Try to build a similar pc with exact the same specifications and you'll know).
  • Dell motherboards won't use extensive power circuitry for example. Which means that the motherboards can't supply the power the cpu needs when overclocked. Fortunately, Dell realises that and supplies those boards with a bios that lacks every overclocking option imaginable. (Those are: FSB| multiplier adjustment| ram frequency, dividers and timings| voltages of cpu, chipset, ram | agp/pci lock and frequency adjustment. ). Last big problem with those boards is that they often lack thermal sensors. Remember > 45°C your fingers hurt, so you could use those to see if your system can handle the heat. You should feel when loading your system 100% though (burn wounds: at least 10 minutes under streaming COLD water, then apply flammazine if not too serious or contact a doctor if serious). As far as I know, the "unknown combination of keys enables secret overclocking menu" option does not exist on a dell.
  • - Dell psu's are able to power the system at stock speeds, perhaps enable a small upgrade, but are unable to power the extra demands introduced by overclocking. Here is a calculator that will tell you what high quality psu you'd need to power a system. Fiddle around with it, look at the psu in your dell, gaze in horror at it, read this sticky and you'll know what you need. Dell psu's are not considered high quality.
  • - Dell's cooling options are just horribile; sometimes the pc's overheat when running stock. No way this cooling would be able to output the extra heat generated by overclocking. Fortunately, Dell uses intel processors, that turn themselves down when too hot. So you'll be overclocking a system that turns itself down to lower speed than your initial values.
  • - Dell's ram is the cheapest ram available. Overclocking an intel means overclocking your ram. Cheap ram doesn't overclock well, so your ram will be holding you back if the above things survive your experiment. (Note: this is due to the fact that often ram and fsb speeds are linked to eachother. Sometimes there are dividers, but those are overclocking options your board doesn't offer. Dividers might decrease performance. )
  • Since no die hard overclockers buy dells, no die hard overclocking tool supports them. Start programming! But beware, overclocking tools require temp monitors... and you do not have that on your dell.
  • Sometimes, you could overclock your videocard. That's the only thing you can overclock on a dell (they can't lock it). Check the video forum for more information (there are stickies that tell you how to do it there, and you can always search if you want to find more).
But then, you're a die hard, and you still want to overclock the dell...
  • Sometimes, dell's are based on boards that appear in the retail channel as well. In even rarer cases, you could flash your bios with that of a retail board. Things you should know about this:
  1. We don't know which dells are based on which boards, nor do we know which of those boards are based on known retail ones. Sometime google knows, so you should ask him.
  2. Flashing will void your warranty. It's a risky business, especially when you are flashing with a bios that was not meant for your board. You risk losing your board, and everything connected to it. Don't do this if you aren't 100% sure that you know what you're doing.
  3. Even if you manage to flash your board to a bios with minimal overclocking options, don't expect to get a big overclock. Dell doesn't buy the über high end parts, they buy the cheap mainstream parts... retail boards not meant to be overclocked.
But even then, other things will hold back your overclock. So you could change those.
  • You could buy a new motherboard. But, the latest generation dell's use btx layout cases. Retail motherboards are atx standard - they simply won't fit your case. (note: Don't try to find a btx motherboard. I believe they exist, but have never seen one in real life). You'll have to buy a new case before you can use a new motherboard. And then, other things like the psu and ram will still end your overclocking fun. Oh, and if you have a thin dell, you're sure about the new case as you won't be able to fit any board in them.
  • You could buy a new psu. Here is the best psu guide you could find on the web (coincidentally, also made by a forum member ). But, if you have an older dell, it won't be atx (standard for cases and psu's). So your supply won't work with the dell motherboard (one of both will be fried). Newer dell's fortunately use standard atx layout (though you should check the wires - see if they are the same in the same place on both connectors). I don't know when they changed to standard atx. If you buy a new one, check if it fits the case.
  • You could buy better ram. But beware, some ram doesn't work in dell motherboards... another gift of the dell bios.
Oh, and remember that if you change all things above, you'll need a new windows xp licence as you are basically having a new computer, and microsoft will not recognise it as the same old pc.

So suppose you're very stubborn, and have a lot of money and want to overclock that dell. Then my suggestions are:
  1. find out what type the dell is
  2. find out what processor rests inside, what socket is is based upon (intel has a tool for that or find it out through your dell model number)
  3. buy a new board, search this forum (don't make new threads, there are already a lot of "which board should I buy") threads.
Prolly the best ones will be a socket 478 asus P4C800-E deluxe or 775 asus p5wd2 premium. But that's a discussion not to be done here.
Just a few remarks:
  • AGP (ati 8...x, 9... and nvidia 4..., 5... videocards) boards are not compatibile with pci-e (ati x...., nvidia 6....,7....)
  • DDR1 boards are not compatibile with DDR2. So at this stage, you need to know if you your videocard is agp/pci-e and if your ram is ddr1 or 2.
  • Normally, it will be socket 478 -> AGP& DDR1; socket 775 -> PCI-E and DDR2
  1. Buy a new psu. Use this, then david get's some credit for his fenomenal guide.
  2. Buy new ram. Depending on your socket and board, you either need DDR1 or DDR2. Don't buy the wrong type, as it won't work. (and might fry things when you try to install it anyway. They are keyed, so you should not be able to install the wrong one).
  3. Buy a new case and a new cooler for your processor. And don't go cheap on it, you want to overclock. Cooler and case suggestions can be found in the respective forums.
  4. Buy a new windows xp licence.
But then, this looks a lot like a new pc.
Only your drives, graphics card, input devices and monitor can be transferred. Prolly it would have been cheaper if you bought an overclockers pc at the beginning. It will take less time as well.
What can you do to improve the speed of your dell?
  • Add more ram. Add more drives.
  • Tweak windows. There are a lot of great guides on the web. Personally, my favorite is this.
  • Uninstall norton or mcaffee and get a lighter antivirus like avg (free), antivir (free).
  • Use an alternative browser (firefox, opera, moox ...)
  • Use easycleaner.
  • Defragment your drive.
Just a (not really meant to be insulting note, but always nice if you can do that at the same time ) note:
People that know enough of overclocking, know that oem (prebuilt) machines are not a good choice for overclocking.

Since you bought a dell and want to overclock it, it doesn't prove of much knowledge in this area. Know that overclocking can very easely damage your system (and your health), and that you shouldn't do it unless you know enough about it. We are not responsibile for your attempts, nor for the problems caused by it.

So start reading this forum first, learn and then start overclocking.

Important last note: As everything in life, there are exceptions. Those were not mentioned for the sake of simplicity.

Some Dell xps systems have a bios that allows for some mild overclocking:
Extremetech found at least one that could. Though not every xps has overclocking possibilities; older generations don't. (Example)

Small edit: this applies to other oem machines as well... hp/gateway/alienware/medion...

Last edited by ozymandias : 11-28-2005 at 11:19 AM.
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Old 11-17-2005, 02:06 PM   #2
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Can somebody say "sticky this friggin thing already"?

STICKY THIS FRIGGIN THING ALREADY!!

I've asked someone to make this a sticky three weeks ago after the super duper crazy influx of noobie questions about oc'ing a dimension. Put it on the top of all forum categories (Intel and AMD) and MAYBE someone will read it.

Thanks Oz for doing what I was too lazy and exhausted to do.
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Old 11-17-2005, 02:21 PM   #3
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I'll see if it can be stickied, but please sort out that format it's a nightmare to read, put some effort into readability. Nice guide though.
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Old 11-17-2005, 02:25 PM   #4
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yeah...clean up the formatting first
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Old 11-17-2005, 02:32 PM   #5
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Yeah, good info though. I'm sick of the "overclocking dell!!11 zomg hax!!" threads
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Old 11-17-2005, 02:55 PM   #6
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Ya beat me to it
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Old 11-17-2005, 03:13 PM   #7
JEEwing
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YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY. It's a Sticky!!! Thanks Rich for making my, along with many others, dreams come true. I think I'm gonna have beer now.
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Old 11-17-2005, 03:15 PM   #8
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Np and ozy that formatting is great. Can I just ask though, do you have this posted on another forum? When you posted it originally it kind of looked like it had been copied and pasted and had lost some original formatting.
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Old 11-17-2005, 03:16 PM   #9
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i dont see n e thing in there about the fact that dell allows u to overclock the xps while keeping ur warranty... or maybe i read that too fast...
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Old 11-17-2005, 03:31 PM   #10
ozymandias
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nope, the original formatting was this way because I once lost a very big post in a forum, and therefore make all my expected-to-be-extremely-long posts in editpad, and then copy-paste them. You won't find a single thing on another website (exception: the you cannot overclock a dell phrase; copied that from a retired ex cold war veteran, currently living in siberia and using a keyboard of deer bones )

You might recognise the style, as I once did the news redaction of a (now) illustrous hardware website...

Now, let's improve thing, shall we?

edit: added the xps can be overclocked and some other not allways to the point thingies...

Last edited by ozymandias : 11-17-2005 at 04:00 PM.
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Old 11-20-2005, 11:21 AM   #11
Troglodyte
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Best sticky ever. The number of threads were getting ridiculous. At least two a week.
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Old 11-20-2005, 11:59 AM   #12
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So, uh, has anyone figured out how to overclock a Dell yet? Also, I think my dell runs a little hot, so I'm going to put it in a mini-fridge, whats the best way to do that? I also bought a new hard drive so I can store all of my downloaded movies and porn, but I don't know where to plug in my ribbon cable, it only has a small socket on the back for something called a "sata". PLEASE HELP
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Old 11-20-2005, 12:07 PM   #13
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a few things you might want to add:

dell makes their own power supplies, fans, cases, and 56k modems. all other hardware in the dell is made by OEM companies:

motherboard is manufactured by Foxcon
ram is manufactured by Crucial
video cards are manufactured by either ATI or nVIDEA (sp? i never get it right)
all cables are manufactured by Foxcon
Hard drives are usualy manufactured by Seagate
disk drives are manufactured by Sony and Philips
sound cards are manufactured by Creative, but are special (half height) Dell modifications.
Windows XP (home/pro/media) are specialised to "work" on only a Dell machine.
and also, Dell speakers are made by Antec

In regards to dell cases, someone will be sent to dHell. The cpu typicly has a decient heatsink covering it, but dell (to lower the cost of the system by $5) decided that instead of having a normal cpu fan and a normal case fan for cooling, LETS COMBINE THEM BOTH TOGETHER! so they put a single fan on the back to cool the entire system down. They typicly put (for my model anyway) a 92mm fan on the back of the case that pulls air through the heatsink with the help of a bright green shroud. The idea behind the shroud is that the fan will blow air exclusively through the cpu heatsink, which it does very well, but it also leaves all other components like the northbridge, southbridge, hard drive, and the fanless vga heatsink to wallow in their own heat for all of eternity. The northbridge in perticular, feels like the surface of a frying pan after making french toast (no exageration). Anyway, dell cases use a "clamshel" design, which esentialy splits the entire case in half. Dell also uses "screwless"...everything. The floppy, DVD/CD, and hard drives can all be removed in seconds using their bright green squeeze tabs that are screwed onto the drive itself, which I found somewhat helpfull, but the drives feel loose anyway. and dell doesnt provide extra screws for them either. The pci slots are screwless as well. They use a plastic bar which pops into a hole to hold expansion cards down (guess what color the bar is). If you try and add a screw to a card anyway (as the majority of cases do), forget it because screws dont fit under the plastic bar. The cpu fan as well uses a screwless design, but something different. The fan is held to a black fan bracket with four RUBBER screws (yes, rubber). The bracket is then held onto the case using plastic teeth that slide downwards and clip onto the case exterior. you may be thinking "WHY RUBBER????" and the answer is simple-look at the first sentence of the paragraph. come on dell, use common sense here.

In regards to dell power supplies, (you have no idea how much this pains me) they are pretty stable ( ) HOWEVER they are built with the lowest quality parts i have ever seen anywhere in my life, and thus cancel out any positive qualities about them. They are horrible. Very horrible. Intensely horrible to the poitn of being almost too horrible, but these raise the bar of horrible to such a height that only dell power supplies come anywhere close. They are the sum of all horrible known in the universe. There is more horrible in one Dell power supply than there are particles of matter in existance. In the horrible equasion, the asymptote of horrible is only reached by dell power supplies. Unless you posess proper protective equipment including radiation protection, UV sunblock (spf 300+ recomended), chemical resistant rubber gloves, full face mask and resperator, fire extinguisher, acid-base neutraliser, and a 10 foot stainless steel pole, STAY AWAY AT ALL COSTS!! Be sure to alert your local fire department that you own a dell power supply because they are so imensely pathetic, that they break down after only a month or so of normal use, and may be a fire hazard. I had TWO power supplies from dell break down before the warrenty even expired!

As I own a Dell myself, I can tell you anything else you need to know if you need it. W0nderb0y does also, so you can ask him as well

great sticky, i was thinking of making one like it a while back but i get enough flame from everybody even mentioning the word dell

Last edited by falcobird : 11-20-2005 at 12:46 PM.
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Old 11-20-2005, 09:26 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JEEwing
YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY. It's a Sticky!!! Thanks Rich for making my, along with many others, dreams come true. I think I'm gonna have beer now.

w00t....Me too! AWSOME!!!!!!!!
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Old 01-20-2006, 03:00 AM   #15
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omg i had no idea they were so bad
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Old 01-20-2006, 08:30 AM   #16
DauntlessDolphi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maximus7724
omg i had no idea they were so bad
Its not that Dells are bad, They are awesome for normal users (and computer newbies); however, they are not comparable to custom rigs. If you know how: build it, if you dont: get a dell
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Old 01-29-2006, 03:24 AM   #17
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As a previous owner of a dell system 8400 dimension (for 6 months), I would say rip the thing apart, buy a new mobo and case, build a new system. I was a Mac user since the Apple II and I got Dell system for free (socket 775 3.00 630), it lasted for 6 months and I built a decent system. The Dell was sufficient but my built system is much better. I was a noobie to Intel and Windows when I got the Dell, but I have to say that building a system is so much better. When I first built the system I had to buy a new mobo because the original (foxconn) wouldn't fit into an ATX case or any case. Dells are good if you want a stock system, but I would take the time to learn about computers and build a new one if you want to overclock.
If you cant afford the new parts then don't oc your system. By the way, I know a couple of people that have lost their psu in a Dell system.
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Old 02-06-2006, 03:04 PM   #18
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Thank god someone did this.

Just for the record I have shot down 13 peoples request for me to OC there dell by emailing this link

the counter continues.
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Old 02-21-2006, 03:27 PM   #19
ozymandias
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At extremesystems, somebody was able to overclock his processor in a way that might work on oem systems - though it is a bit harsh, and 100% guaranteed voids your warranty.

http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/...ad.php?t=69913

But hey, you can turn that 630 into a 4 Ghz thing - if the processor supports it.
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Old 02-21-2006, 04:00 PM   #20
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That's sort of nutty to go that far with things...it would just plain and simplet make more sense to build a rig yourself...although, I must give props to the person that did this....lol
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