Dell XPS 400 Hardware Upgrades
Closed     Case # 10028     Affiliated Job:  BaBaDou DOT Com
Opened:  Monday, March 15, 2010     Closed:  Thursday, April 1, 2010
Total Hit Count:  66325     Last Hit:  Tuesday, May 28, 2024 9:16:20 PM
Unique Hit Count:  9809     Last Unique Hit:  Tuesday, May 28, 2024 9:05:47 PM
Case Type(s):  Helpdesk, Server
Case Notes(s):  All cases are posted for review purposes only. Any implementations should be performed at your own risk.

I have an older Dell XPS 400 (Also known as Dimension 9150) workstation with a 3.2GHz Pentium 4 Prescott Processor, ATI Radeon X600 graphics 256 MB, 4GB RAM (apparently an Intel 945P motherboard with a 32-bit address bus can only use 3.5GB usable memory regardless of the OS 32/64-bit status), 250GB Maxtor 5400 RPM SATA 150 drive, Dual TV tuner & Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeMusic sound card.

My goal is to upgrade this to support a "HD Media Center" with better performance. I currently use this machine in the living room connected to my HDTV via the DVI port on the ATI card for use with Windows Media Center. It has served its purpose well - however the Prescott is 32-bit, does not support hardware virtualization and is only a HyperThread rather than a Dual Core. The video is rather outdated with a 3.2 Windows 7 Experience index. And I have been experiencing an issue - regardless of the operating system - where the drive will beat hard pausing everything in the system until it finishes whatever it is doing.

Action(s) Performed:
Total Action(s): 7
Action # Recorded Date Type Hit(s) User Expand Details
10103 4/1/2010 9:28:11 AM Server 3201 Step 1: upgrade the processor. I started researching the 945P motherboard   Collapse ...
Last Hit: Tuesday, May 28, 2024 7:30:49 PM

Step 1: upgrade the processor. I started researching the 945P motherboard and from what I gathered, this particular board could support a Intel Core2 Duo E6700 (2.66GHz, 1066MHz) processor; however, forums/threads further researched indicated that the XPS 400 could only support a Pentium D 960 (3.60 GHz, 800MHz) processor because of the limitations applied by the BIOS. The forums/threads I reviewed were perhaps outdated as they were all referring to A03ish BIOS where as I am utilizing A07 - in the threads it indicated to disable HyperThreading (HT) in the BIOS to make the Pentium D function since it does not support HT.

I decided to take the for certain route and picked myself up a Pentium D 960 via ebay for about $75 (pre 8% M.S. CashBack). On receipt I threw it in my machine without first changing the BIOS HT setting - and the system picked it up without a hitch. The BIOS automatically acknowledged the CPU's inability to HT and disabled this feature, but also allowed for me to toggle the assisted virtualization feature. It listed all the new features of the 64-bit support & dual core nature of the Pentium D processor.
10104 4/1/2010 9:28:10 AM Server 3377 Step 2: upgrade the video card. Researching the support of the included 37  More ...
10105 4/1/2010 9:28:09 AM Server 3217 Step 3: additional HDTV dual tuner. I decided on the WINTV-HVR-2250 becaus  More ...
10106 4/1/2010 9:28:08 AM Server 3230 Step 4: replace the hard disk. My belief is the problems I was struggling   More ...
10107 4/1/2010 9:28:07 AM Server 3198 Step 5: rebuild the system. My current OS was Windows 7 32-bit and I wante  More ...
10108 4/1/2010 9:28:06 AM Server 3295 Step 6: 7.1 surround sound. I decided to maintain my X-Fi Sound Blaster Xt  More ...
10117 4/1/2010 9:28:05 AM Server 3399 Step 7: add a Blue-ray player. My final step was to make my computer do pr  More ...

In conclusion, I am happy to report everything is working well. I now have my machine at what I think is maxed out in specs. A dual core 3.60GHz Pentium D 960, 7.1 surround sound XtremeMusic, 4 channel TV recording (two in HDTV offering 38 channels through Evanston Clear QAM Comcast $9/month basic cable), 64-bit Windows 7, 2TB internal (plus an additional 1.5TB, 1.5TB & 1TB of External drives), subscribe to NetFlix for online streaming through Media Center, NVIDIA GTS 250 1GB DDR3 (working apparently well on my 375W power supply) and finally my LG Blue Ray reader/writer for crisp movie rentals from NetFlix.

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