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Old 05-18-2011, 09:52 PM   #1
jwigeland
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Oh No! XPS Gen 5

Well, I wanted to splurge on my brother for completing his junior year, and he asked me to fix up his Dell XPS Gen 5, which was originally my first computer ever. Seems it's been acting up (worms, no doubt), and the case fans are all rattling. Clean install with new drives is in order, so why not go one step further?

I went on eBay and got a few things together for cheap to spruce it up a bit. At the risk of being flamed by everyone here, let me preface this by saying that bro absolutely did NOT want a new machine - just upgrades. Since he doesn't even do any gaming I thought I could restore this machine to what it would have been had I the funds at the time of purchase to "max it out"

Original config:
XPS Gen 5
Intel Pentium 4 640
2GB 667MHz DDR2
Nvidia 6800
Soundblaster Audigy Z2
Modem card (OMG!)
120GB Hard Drive
650w PSU
Dell-flavored Windows and Office programs

New config:
XPS Gen 5 (new fans to match originals, including a fourth that was mysteriously missing from the factory)
Pentium D 840 EE (oc'd to 3.6GHz - Dell BIOS allows this) - fastest processor the Gen 5 MoBo will support
4GB 667MHz DDR2 - MoBo only runs 667MHz RAM
Radeon X850 XT Platinum - the top-dog option when the Gen 5 was new
EMU 1212M PCI + I/O Card (thanks EOCF!) - this is for his synthesizer as he needs audio conversion and Midi throughput.
Linksys wireless adapter
2x 250GB Sata drives (Raid 0) - also the top option way back when, but the MoBo can only do Sata (not Sata II).
650w PSU
Windows XP Pro 32 full retail version (oh god I'm going to need a floppy with the Raid drivers...)
MS Office 2003 Professional (bro wants the '03 verion)

LOLZ I'll yank the floppy drive once I'm done with the install and get a Sata DVD Burner (in case the one in there is an IDE drive). That should reduce the cable clutter quite a bit.

Hope he likes it! This would be totally spanked by any system made in the last few years but he doesn't really care so bully for him! XD
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Last edited by jwigeland; 05-19-2011 at 06:46 AM.
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Old 05-18-2011, 11:29 PM   #2
DarkTower87
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwigeland View Post
Well, I wanted to splurge on my brother for completing his junior year, and he asked me to fix up his Dell XPS Gen 5, which was originally my first computer ever. Seems it's been acting up (worms, no doubt), and the case fans are all rattling. Clean install with new drives is in order, so why not go one step further?

I went on eBay and got a few things together for cheap to spruce it up a bit. At the risk of being flamed by everyone here, let me preface this by saying that bro absolutely did NOT want a new machine - just upgrades. Since he doesn't even do any gaming I thought I could restore this machine to what it would have been had I the funds at the time of purchase to "max it out"

Original config:
XPS Gen 5
Intel Pentium 4 640
2GB 667MHz DDR2
Nvidia 6800
Soundblaster Audigy Z2
Modem card (OMG!)
120GB Hard Drive
650w PSU
Dell-flavored Windows and Office programs

New config:
XPS Gen 5 (new fans to match originals, including a fourth that was mysteriously missing from the factory)
Pentium D 840 EE (oc'd to 3.6GHz - Dell BIOS allows this) - fastest processor the Gen 5 MoBo will support
4GB 667MHz DDR2 - MoBo only runs 667MHz RAM
Radeon X850 XT Platinum - the top-dog option when the Gen 5 was new
EMU 1212M PCI + I/O Card (thanks EOCF!) - this is for his synthesizer as he needs audio conversion and Midi throughput.
Linksys wireless adapter
2x 250GB Sata drives (Raid 0) - also the top option way back when, but the MoBo can only do Sata (not Sata II).
650w PSU
Windows XP Pro 32 full retail version (oh god I'm going to need a floppy with the Raid drivers...)
MS Office 2003 Professional (bro wants the '03 verion)

LOLZ I'll yank the floppy drive once I'm done with the install and get a Sata DVD Burner (in case the one in there is an IDE drive). That should reduce the cable clutter quite a bit.

Hope he likes it! This would be totally spanked by any system made in the last few years but he doesn't really care so bully for him! XD
Nice! That rig will do fine for web browsing and light Photoshopping. Also HD playback is obviously not out of the question.
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Old 06-15-2011, 08:57 PM   #3
jwigeland
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Thanks!

My bad - upon further research I discovered that the PSU in mine was the 460w (single PCIe 6-pin), so I had to buy a new 650w (two 6-pins, even though the X850 XT PE only needs one). Probably best to get a new PSU anyway since the original is 5 years old...

Also, I've decided to snag 3GB of Crucial Ballistix 667MHz CL3 just for good measure. These are the old ones with the original heat-spreader (two 1Gb and two 512MB). Not sure if the Dell BIOS will detect the better timings but what the hey - it's better than the generic stuff in there now (no heatspreaders).

Well, everything should be here in a couple of weeks so when the day comes I'll shoot some pics and post 'em here.

Additional Comment:

Uh oh... now bro wants to buy Flash Professional and start making web comics. Um... is this hardware gonna be able to cope with that?
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Last edited by jwigeland; 06-15-2011 at 08:57 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
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Old 06-19-2011, 11:35 AM   #4
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I cringed a little when you mentioned the wireless adapter, however, whatever works, right? And yes, Flash is pretty light-weight, he should be fine. How much did the upgrade total come to?
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Old 06-19-2011, 03:08 PM   #5
jwigeland
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Oh dear... no no I scrapped the Linksys in favor of a Rosewill RNX-N300 b/g/n model from a prior build of mine - it's a great lil card, so no worries there.

Good to know about Flash being okay on a machine like this (phew!)

Hang on a mo... um... lessee... the total damage for all the upgrades came to about $400 of new money plus the value of some spare parts I had lying around. Meh... he's my bro so I don't mind.

New XPS cooler - $30
Pentium D 840 - $85
2GB Ballistix RAM - $40
New XPS 650w PSU - $45
X850 XT PE - $45
2x WD Drives - $75
XP Pro 32 - $35
MS 2003 Pro - $45
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Old 06-19-2011, 07:20 PM   #6
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Eh, for that much 'cheddar' you could have built him a decent little HTPC by today's standards that would wipe the floor with that setup. I know, you know this already, I just had to say it.
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\Project\ Triple Surround Fury
Case:
Mountain Mods Ascension (modded)
CPU: i7 920 @ 4GHz + EK Supreme HF (plate #1)
GPU: 3x GTX 670 3-Way SLI + 3x XSPC Razor GTX670 water blocks
Mobo: ASUS Rampage III Extreme + EK FB R3E water block
RAM: 3x 2GB Mushkin Enhanced Ridgebacks DDR3 @ 6-8-6-24 1T
SSD: Crucial M4 256GB, 0309 firmware
PSU: 2x Corsair HX1000s
LCD: 3x ASUS VW266H 26" Nvidia Surround @ 6030 x 1200
OS: Windows 7 64-bit Home Premium
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Old 06-19-2011, 07:25 PM   #7
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LOLZ and I told him that too. But he wanted to keep the XPS 5, so there you go.
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Old 06-19-2011, 07:47 PM   #8
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Quote:
Windows XP Pro 32 full retail version (oh god I'm going to need a floppy with the Raid drivers...)
Why not win 7 (then you wouldn't need a floppy you could use a USB stick)?
If your bro is still a student he can get a copy for 30$ (assuming little bro since he gets your old crap )
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Old 06-19-2011, 08:55 PM   #9
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LOL yes he's my lil' bro (but taller than me at 6'5")...

Meh we all still like XP in my house... idk... it'll work fine on the hardware he's got (2GB RAM) and at this point SP3 is stable as a rock. It also plays nicely with ofice 2003 which is a must-have b/c he HATES office '10 even more than office '07.

I also donated my Logitech S520 to the cause since the Dell mouse and keyboard are one foot in the grave at this point. Should be nice when it's all done!
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Old 06-19-2011, 08:59 PM   #10
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Can you return the CPU? I have a semi lapped PEntium D 820 that I could give to you for much less money.
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Old 06-20-2011, 04:44 AM   #11
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No, but that's okay. Apparently the Dell XPS BIOS allows for a moderate overclock of the 840 up to 3.6GHz - we'll see if I can actually get that to work.
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Old 09-06-2011, 07:44 AM   #12
jwigeland
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Here's a long-overdue update! I couldn't take bro's machine down until he was done with his Summer classes.

I spent one hour swapping out hardware and cleaning out the case clutter. Overall I was pleased with how all the new parts went together!

I then spent 20 hours trying and failing to get a clean install of Windows. Then I realized that all of the random errors I kept getting could be caused by, among the other things I'd already trouble-shot, faulty RAM. So, I put in one stick of the old stuff that came from Dell originally and the install went perfectly (I used a slipstreamed CD with the proper Raid driver).

MEMTEST time - yup, one of the Ballistix was faulty. Moral of the story - always test the RAM FIRST! Could've saved myself 19 hours of frustration...

I ordered a set of Mushkin Enhanced Silverlines with Frosty heatsinks from the egg. I was suprised that they still make performance DDR2 at 667 speed - that's really hard to find nowadays. Anyway, the Muskin kit (2x 2GB) worked perfectly. The 32-bit O/S will only "see" 3.25GB of it but that's okay since I'm now only using 2 DIMMs (2x2) instead of 4 (2x1 + 2x0.5) so that's less load on the memory controller.

So, this XPS lives again! Final Build:

Case, Motherboard, CPU cooler - all original (new Dell case fans)
Intel Pentium D 840 EE (OC'd to 3.6GHz in the Dell BIOS)
4GB Muskin Enhanced Silverline DDR2 (667MHz CL4)
Radeon X850 XT Platinum Dual-DVI
E-MU 1212M PCI
Rosewill RNX-N300
2x WD RE3 Sata 250GB (Raid 0) - the load times are really fast!
Optiarc 22x Sata DVD R/W
Dell XPS Gen 5/6 650w PSU
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Last edited by jwigeland; 09-08-2011 at 12:52 PM.
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