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:  34228     Last Hit:  Wednesday, March 20, 2019 2:04:36 PM
Unique Hit Count:  5125     Last Unique Hit:  Wednesday, March 20, 2019 2:04:36 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.

Project:
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 The video is rather outdated with a 3.2 Windows 7 Experience index.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 1778 contact@danieljchu.com Step 1: upgrade the processor. I started researching the 945P motherboard   More ...
10104 4/1/2010 9:28:10 AM Server 1897 contact@danieljchu.com Step 2: upgrade the video card. Researching the support of the included 37  Collapse ...
Last Hit: Wednesday, March 20, 2019 10:57:26 AM

Step 2: upgrade the video card. Researching the support of the included 375W power supply indicated possible limitations to what the XPS could support. However, based on some research, it appeared that the video cards out there requiring a minimum of a 450W supply would work fine with my 375W supply. Apparently the power supply, although only 375W, provides an ample 30 amps. So I decided here to take the advice I found from forums/threads indicating a PNY NVIDIA GTS 250 1GB would function ok in my x16 PCI Express bus (The XPS 400 is not PCI Express 2.0, but apparently video cards listed as Express 2.0 x16 will work in the prior revision).

On receipt ($108.99 via newegg.com pre 3% M.S. CashBack), replaced my ATI with the NVIDIA and viola - no apparent problems. I feel safe as I don't do any gaming with this PC, it's sole purpose will be in the living room serving up high definition content through Comcast Clear QAM digital TV. This card requires one 6-pin PCI Express supplemental power which the Dell XPS 400 already has the connector to support the card. So the included dual 4-pin to 6-pin adapter is not needed.
10105 4/1/2010 9:28:09 AM Server 1802 contact@danieljchu.com Step 3: additional HDTV dual tuner. I decided on the WINTV-HVR-2250 becaus  More ...
10106 4/1/2010 9:28:08 AM Server 1827 contact@danieljchu.com Step 4: replace the hard disk. My belief is the problems I was struggling   More ...
10107 4/1/2010 9:28:07 AM Server 1782 contact@danieljchu.com 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 1843 contact@danieljchu.com 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 1875 contact@danieljchu.com Step 7: add a Blue-ray player. My final step was to make my computer do pr  More ...

Outcome:
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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