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Trying to upgrade a Dell XPS gen5 processor

By abazaba
Dec 31, 2009
  1. I want to dual boot my old Dell XPS gen5 with windows XP and windows 7 ultimate 64 bit, but my current processor is not x64 compatible. Right now I have a Pentium 4 Prescott 560 and I would like to upgrade to the Pentium 4 660 which from what I have read is basically the 64 bit equivalent to what I have now. They are both socket LGA775 so I can't imagine that I couldn't do it, but all of the places that I can find online to buy one from do not allow returns so I want to make sure that I get this right. Also my other concern is that I know dell is notorious for being a pain when it comes to the BIOS so I need to know exactly what it will take to pull this off. Thanks!
     
  2. IvanAwfulitch

    IvanAwfulitch TS Booster Posts: 218   +11

    Dell may be notorious for heart-ache, but as far as the BIOS goes you shouldn't need to worry too much. If the motherboard supports a given processor type, it shouldn't give you problems unless it's a really bad motherboard or something. Replacing a processor isn't that intensive.

    Now...your motherboard is the Intel 955X chipset, right? Because if it is...that means it supports Core2 models. And since that's the case, I'm surprised you haven't gone after a Core 2 Duo instead of another P4. The P4 is getting a little tired these days, and it's showing its age. For the price of that P4 660, you could get an Intel Core2 Duo E7500 Wolfdale.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115056

    Unless your motherboard model is different, I think that might be the smarter choice. And once you buy it, it's as simple as plug and play really. Stick it in the socket, give it a dab of some fresh thermal grease, slap the heatsink on, and you should be good to go.
     
  3. abazaba

    abazaba TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for the great advice... a few more questions if I may. First, how can i find out what chipset my mobo has (manuals are long gone) and second, will the extra 30 bucks or so really get me that much improvement, because if so I will definitely go that route.
     
  4. IvanAwfulitch

    IvanAwfulitch TS Booster Posts: 218   +11

    As far as performance improvement goes, two cores are FAR better than one. You should see an improvement in the area of about 5x better than the P4. To give you a better idea of how the performance would increase, here's an example. An upgrade like this would be like if I jumped from my Core2 Duo E6750 to a core i7 920. In 3dMark Vantage, my processor would get about 4500 marks. The core i7 920 gets about 16,500 marks. That's nearly 4 times better in terms of performance on that one task. It would be somewhat similar from the P4 to a Core2 model.

    Now, I don't want to get your hopes up on this without being totally certain. You listed the model of the computer, right? A Dell XPS Gen5? I did a google search and it spat out some system specs on that model. As long as your computer is an XPS Gen5, then it's likely you have the 955X chipset. You can research this yourself and verify it to be safe. I don't want to tell you that your exact computer will support <insert part here> if it's not the same computer that I just tried looking up. That'd be false information and you'd be spending money on useless hardware. So double-check for me what model your system is and see if I'm correct.

    You can also check the Device Manager for the chipset model. If you go to the Control Panel, go to System, Advanced Tab, and hit up the Device Manager, it should list a bunch of parts. Towards the bottom is one called System Devices. Open up that tab, and it will list a whole array of stuff. A little ways down the list should be something that looks like this:

    Intel(R) G33/G31/P35/P31 Express chipset PCI Express Root Port - 29C1

    That's the list of chipset models for my motherboard. My specific one is the P35. You should see something similar, just with 955X or 955 somewhere in the name. I know it's a little bit convoluted, but it's another way to be absolutely sure.
     
  5. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,258

    This should have the information you need- probably be a good idea to download the manual pdf for future reference
    http://support.dell.com/support/top...al?c=us&l=en&s=gen&SystemID=DIM_PNT_P4_XPS_G5

    The motherboard should be an Intel D955XCS (955 Expresschipset)-cpu support list here (bear in mind that the Dell BIOS may include other options) -Dell lists it as a "modified atx" whatever the hell that means.

    http://www.intel.com/support/motherboards/desktop/d955xcs/sb/CS-026571.htm

    Intel manual here:
    http://www.intel.com/support/motherboards/desktop/d955xcs/sb/CS-026571.htm

    From what I have been able to gather, the board supports Dual Core but not Core 2 Duo.
    Hope this clarifies things for you.
     
  6. foxtrot7899

    foxtrot7899 TS Rookie

    Im lost

    hey,

    i also have a dell gen5 xps, with the Intel 955X chipset. I wish to buy myself the
    Intel Boxed Core2Quad Q9400 Processor - 2.66GHz Quad Core, Socket but i am not sure if it is compatible. i am also not sure if the standard 460w power supply that i have will be able to cope with the demand, as i am running a 9800gt as well.

    Is there any options for me.?
    thank you..
     
  7. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,431   +28

    460W should be fine if you have at least 24A or more on the +12V rails combined. Look at the sticker and check for a combined +12V wattage rating (there may be something like "+12V1 & +12V2 power shall not exceed y watts"; divide y by 12 to get the current rating for the combined +12V rails).
     
  8. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,258

    The Q9400 is a 1333MHz FSB. The 955X chipset is only compatible with 1066/800 FSB processors.
    You will be limited to Pentium D or EE processors unless Dell's BIOS includes 1066 FSB Core 2 Duo CPU's (E6xxx series, Q6600/6700)
    I wouldn't rush out to buy the Q9400 (good cpu that it is) unless you are planning to pair it with board that can accept it. Be aware that Dell use their own design/layout motherboards and that the standard motherboard standoffs (and therefore motherboard screw holes) do not correspond with the Dell.
     
  9. foxtrot7899

    foxtrot7899 TS Rookie

    Hey thanks for the great advice.. ummm what processor is worth buying that is compatible with this board..? i really need this computer to be upgraded as i am unable to play many of the latest games..

    By the sounds of it, im gana have to build a whole new computer..
    Thanks a lot for the help..
     
  10. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,431   +28

    The best you can upgrade to is an Extreme Edition 840 CPU; you may be able to find it relatively cheap on eBay. I would recommend upgrading to any Pentium D CPU you can find; it's a far better deal than using a single-core CPU, especially if it's a Celeron CPU (they are at the lowest rung in the performance ladder).

    I would recommend upgrading your video card first though, unless you game at 1680x1050 or lower. Of course, that will likely mean getting a new PSU as well. But keep in mind that games depend far more on the video card than the CPU.

    It's your call.
     
  11. abazaba

    abazaba TS Rookie Topic Starter

    How do the pentium D and pentium EE compare to a Pentium 4 3.6 Ghz??
     
  12. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,258

    The Pentium D and EE represents a reasonable upgrade -considering C2D CPU's are out in this instance.

    Both have 2 distinct cores (as opposed to the P4's one core), Pentium EE also have Hyper-threading - so show up as 4 logical processors (2 actual, 2 virtual) to the operating system.
    Pentium D and EE also have larger L2 cache, 64 bit support (whereas only 6xx series P4 have 64 bit support), Intel VT technology in 9x0 models (but not 9x5 models). EE's also have unlocked multipliers- not a huge issue in this case as the Dell BIOS doesn't allow overclocking.
    A few reviews :
    http://www.pcper.com/article.php?aid=131&type=expert
    http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/pentiumd-820_6.html#sect0
    http://www.legitreviews.com/article/184/1/
     
  13. abazaba

    abazaba TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Ok so I'm just about to pull the trigger here and get the extreme edition 955 or 965 and I have only 2 more points that need clarification (as I have never tried this before). First, dividebyzero, the link that you provided for me with processor compatibility with my board lists the 955 and 965 as ATX only. Im assuming that this means I wont be able to use the heatsink and fan that comes with it since at the bottom of that page it states that I will need to find a BTX thermal module. Second, the same website lists bios version... what if any impact does that have on me?
    Thanks again!
     
  14. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,258

    Ah yes, Dell's infamous proprietry designs.
    Most of the early Dell motherboards seem to follow a hybrid BTX style arrangement whereby the heatsink is a finned aluminium block that has air drawn over it via a plastic shroud and exhaust fans that pull over the heatsink. I've been assuming this is your system http://www.justechn.com/2005/08/15/dell-dimension-xps-gen-5
    The stock intel cooler is of no use to you- keep the cooler and packaging and add the cpu that you are replacing to it and you can recoup some cash back through eBay (or similar)
    You will note that the reviewer states that this particular system is/was equipped with a "Intel Pentium Extreme Edition Dual Core Processor with HT Technology. The processor is running at 3.20GHz with an 800MHz FSB and 2MB cache" This cpu ( sSpec SL8FK, Pentium Extreme Edition 840) has the same thermal characteristics as the EE 955/965 so you should be fine reusing the cooler you have. Just give it a good clean once you have it off the board with contact cleaner or compressed air, clean the base with Articlean or isopropyl alcohol to remove the old thermal grease, re-apply new thermal grease and you're good to go.
    I would flash the BIOS to the latest available version BEFORE swapping out the cpu just in case the EE 955/965 isn't compatible with the BIOS you have installed-which would cause the board not to POST.
    Hope this answeres your questions-if not, or you need install tips then please post back to us.
     
  15. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,431   +28

    Your current HSF may not cut it, since it's probably not designed for cooling a hotter CPU than the Pentium 4 that you probably have right now. Others may know for sure.

    You can get a BTX HSF on eBay or the like, but it likely won't support the EE CPUs since they get pretty hot. The only ones I've seen support Pentium D CPUs that run at 3.0GHz at most. I advise grabbing a Pentium D 920 and one of those BTX HSFs, since it seems like the best option IMO.
     
  16. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,258

    Unless his system has been modded he already has a BTX thermal solution in place.
     
  17. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,431   +28

    I think my edit clarified my position on the matter; no confusion intended.
     
  18. abazaba

    abazaba TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for the continued support on this matter guys i really appreciate it! I have a friend who works at intel and was able to help me track down a pentium EE 965 (apparently they are incredibly rare online, I only saw one on ebay.) It seems that now my final hurdle is cooling. I cant quite figure out if I have the same HSF as the one on the review website that you posted, especially since that one came with an EE 840 but mine only came with a pentium 4 560 @ 3.6ghz. I am also wondering really how much hotter a cpu running at 3.73ghz would be than the one that I have now.
     
  19. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,431   +28

    Significantly hotter, since you have two cores instead of one and a higher frequency to boot. That's why I'm skeptical about your current HSF being good enough.
     
  20. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,258

    If you are in any doubt that the heatsink cooler in the review I linked to OR the cooler outlined in the manual you have (or can download from the Dell Support link I posted above) then you definitely, as Rage pointed out, need to clarify this before you go ahead.
    Ideally you need a Dell part number. This may well be available to you also through the Support website. Input your service tag and you should be able to get a parts list of the original build. Failing that then you may be able to read a part number without disassembling the cooler-although I'd consider it good practice to remove the heatsink assembly whether you can or cannot- You have to do it anyway at some stage, and if it turns out that you need an alternative cooler then you can take the opportunity to take some measurements of the mounting hardware and maybe some pic's of the socket area for future reference- You'll also have the added bonus of being able to clean your existing heatsink and replace the thermal grease with some fresh stuff should you decide to stay with your existing setup if the replacement parts are out of stock and the job becomes a difficult undertaking.

    If, however, you do have the same cooling tower (see the pics in the manual/part number) then all I'd suggest is maybe adding a fan to the front of the heatsink. The rear Dell fans you have should be ok- Dell use near-server grade high cfm (airflow) fans in most of the systems I've worked on

    EDIT.......................................................

    After much frustration with Dell (non)support -I'm sure even the people there are bots
    It seems your heatsink will be either
    Dell part Y8629 (all supported cpu EXCLUDING EE) or...
    here http://www.txcesssurplus.com/servlet/the-4761/Dell-XPS-600-Gen5/Detail
    Dell part YC558 (cpu's including Extreme Ed. CPU)
    here http://www.txcesssurplus.com/servlet/the-5074/Dell-YC558-Dimension-XPS/Detail

    Hope this helps

    Not surpising the EE965 is rare- at it's intoduction it was Intels flagship cpu which meant a $US 999 price tag.
     
  21. abazaba

    abazaba TS Rookie Topic Starter

    It seems like every time I get one question answered, another one pops up. I'm grateful that you found me a place to buy a compatible heatsink and it looks like this may actually work. My new concern is now power (idk why I didnt think of that before) I have a 460W power supply. I read the previous post about using this power supply with a c2q, but i have a sneaking suspicion that this processor might require more juice than that... any ideas?
     
  22. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,258

    Your present CPU is a 115watt Prescott, the EE is a 130watt Presler core. Not a huge jump in power demand but bear in mind a trio of points.
    As a power supply ages it's ability to deliver it's rated output diminishes. So over the years you will lose a sizeable amount of wattage/amperage.
    Dell's philiosphy with power supplies seems to be "make them just powerful enough, but only just"
    With a new EE installed you might succumb to the allure of overclocking. Even a small overclock will add 10% or more to the CPU's power requirement.

    Given that you may also in the future upgrade a graphics card, add harddrives, maybe another optical drive (blu ray?)....I'd have to say YES. Upgrade the power supply with a good quality one. I'm not sure what form factor the Dell uses, but I see that your system has the option for a 650watt PSU -here http://support.dell.com/support/edo...m#wp1057628?ACD=10550055-3342876-&AID=3342876 I'm guessing for the optional 130watt CPU's.
     
  23. abazaba

    abazaba TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Ok, so I've done a bit more research, and I'm pretty sure that like you said I'll probably upgrade my video card in the not too distant future, and probably add a 3rd hard drive just for fun... so i will be upgrading my power supply as per your recommendation. Therein lies the problem. I looked up the power supply that I have and I figured out that it is a Dell proprietary power supply (go figure). So I figured why not keep it legit and get buy the OEM Dell PSU in the 650w variety? Well it turns out that most outlets online have those for around $400 give or take (except for a few places that claim to have them for $65 but are suspiciously "out of stock"). So I am wondering what exactly is proprietary about this PSU? Are the pins configured differently? Would that even matter? Would a different one even fit? If I remove the little plastic "air induction" thingy to make a different PSU fit, will it overheat? So many questions!! Hopefully someone can help me get around this proprietary deal. Thanks.
     
  24. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,431   +28

    Since you're upgrading almost everything, I would suggest saving up for a while and building a new PC from scratch instead. $300-500 will get you a much more powerful new PC than if you upgrade your current one. Just a thought.
     
  25. abazaba

    abazaba TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Its funny that you should mention that, as I have given that considerable thought. The fact of the matter is, I am 99 percent sure that I wont even use a new rig (or this one upgraded for that matter) to anywhere near its full potential. I was planning on doing this as more of a personal achievement thing (the term "just for fun" comes to mind) since although i consider myself somewhat computer savvy there are still a lot of things i havent played with (swapping processors, upgrading bios, using 2 OS on one computer (which was my original intent), etc...). Also, if i were to just get a new computer, i would probably not be happy unless i built it from scratch, which would cost me way too much to build a setup that i would consider "suitable". I am perfectly happy upgrading this computer piece by piece as funds become available and calling it a "learning experience". On that note, is a budget priced new processor really that much better than the ones I have been looking at, aside from reduced power consumption and heat output?
     
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