Dell Dimension 4600 Upgrade Help (RAM, Video, etc.)

By btownj ยท 10 replies
Feb 3, 2009
  1. Hello! My Dell Dimension 4600 Desktop is now over 5 years old (purchased October 2003). At times it can be really slow and takes about 15 minutes to boot up, but overall it is reliable and I don't do much to save some money I thought I would upgrade instead of replace it. I need some help on how exactly to do this since I have never done anything before.

    Here are the basic specs:

    2.4 GHZ Pentium 4, 533
    256 MB RAM, 333 MHZ, NON-ECC, Dual In-Line Memory
    64 MB Video Card, NiVidia 18, Dimension
    CDRW, DVD-ROM Drives
    2 Internal HDs: 40GB, 120GB

    So the first obvious thing I thought to do is add some RAM. From what I read it seems like I will want to buy 2 separate identical modules. I was thinking of purchasing these:

    Does anyone see a problem with these working in my machine? Will I want to leave the old RAM in as well or remove it completely? 1.0 GB RAM vs. 1.3 GB of RAM. I have also been looking at some RAM on EBay, but I have read about people having trouble with Lo vs. Hi Density RAM. How do you know which you can use with your PC?

    The next thing I was considering upgrading was the video card, but as I said I don't do a lot of gaming. The biggest thing I would hope to gain by updating the video card is increased video streaming ability, such as watching TV shows on Hulu,, etc.

    Will a better video card (64 MB vs. 256 MB) allow for better streaming video watching?

    If so, I was looking at upgrading to this:

    This card here is a DDR. They also have similar cards that are DDR2 for about $6 more, but I'm not sure of the difference or if my system would be compatable.

    For right now I'll stop my questions here. I greatly appreciate any advice you can give me! :grinthumb
  2. rev_olie

    rev_olie TS Guru Posts: 560

    Would it not be a better idea to just start from scratch?
    I think stating fresh or building a machine would be batter for you.


    That RAM should be fine. Baring in mind its only DDR so its not going to give fantastic improvements.
    You will have to open your case to see if you can leave the old sticks in. If you can then you may as well leave them in.
    Also i always try and deter people from buying RAM or other components from Ebay. It could be old and leave you with a BSOD when you turn on. This can then be blamed on your other hardware and thus would not require the user to give you a refund.

    I think that graphics card should work with your PC. I doesn't need PCI-e so that's fine with your PC.

    The best ting to do would be to download system info

    Then tell us what it shows for RAM.Memory. Slots type currently installed etc and also for video adaptors.
    Then you can better determine new parts but at the moment what you have would be fine, but i would say an upgrade would be better.

    Also take a look at these two guides Ive written to address speed:
  3. btownj

    btownj TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for the tips! That CCcleaner program is quite nice. I really like how you can access the things that load when Windows starts. Doing this and disabling most everything that wasn't firewall or virus protection really sped up my computer startup time. I have a fairly extensive virus and spyware checker, so I didn't find any new stuff there, but the CCleaner was able to delete 540.8 MB of crap.

    There are four slots for RAM, so I plan on moving the two existing 128 MB sticks over to the unused slots and installing the two 512 MB sticks when I get them.

    ONLY DDR? Is there another option for RAM with my PC? Do you think I would get substantially better results if I chose 1 GB sticks instead of 512 MB sticks?

    Thanks again!
  4. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,443   +38

    More RAM will noticeably speed up things with XP. 1GB will be enough for non-gaming purposes.

    Not really. New PCs use DDR2, which is what rev_olie was referring to I believe.

    As for a video card, this card is quite cheap at $43 with free shipping and will be able to accelerate HD videos on its own allowing for smooth playback, even with Blu-Ray discs should you ever decide to get a Blu-Ray drive.
  5. btownj

    btownj TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for the tips. I noticed this video card has the following in the specs: Memory Size - 256MB Ultra High Speed DDR2

    Since it's DDR2 am I correct to assume it won't work with my PC?
  6. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,443   +38

    Nope, video card RAM is completely different from system RAM. You can mix a DDR2 or a DDR3 card with DDR system RAM without problems.
  7. rev_olie

    rev_olie TS Guru Posts: 560

    Your assumption would be correct :).
    Because of he apparent age your mobo will not support anything other than DDR. Also my reasoning was that is was yourself btownj that linked to the page with DDR ram :D

    Glad CCleaner worked well did you use the CCleaner registry cleaner as well? due to the age that will really help i think.

    RAM is ram. The size will make some difference but again its DDR so nothing to huge. Also don't forget you said about buying 1GB sticks. You could only have really 2GB maximum in terms of RAM in your system as most likely its going to be 32bit not 64.
    I would get 2GB of new RAM and the system should pick up the other 256MB as well.
    What operating system are you running by the way?
  8. btownj

    btownj TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I did run the registry cleaner as well and it also worked great. I didn't read your directions close enough and I accidentally ran the CC registry cleaner before the windows cleaner, but all seems to be well.

    I am running XP Professional

    Thanks again!
  9. rev_olie

    rev_olie TS Guru Posts: 560

    Can you actually run XP professional on 256MB of RAM??

    its ok to run the registry cleaner before hand but its usually easier to get the junk out of the way first.
  10. btownj

    btownj TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Well you can, but apparently very very slowly...
  11. rev_olie

    rev_olie TS Guru Posts: 560

    Hmmm well theres a new one for my book :). Anyhow yes leave the remaining sticks in and add another 2GB if you can and it should hoepfully run better.
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