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What can I do to a Optiplex gx270 to make it WoW-friendly?

By teddyzaper · 24 replies
Sep 19, 2011
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  1. I have an old Dell optiplex gx270 that i would like to upgrade so that i can play WoW and other games on it. What could i do to make it better. I have no experience in hard-drive upgrading but i am always up for learning and have others that can help if im struggling. Right now im playing on an insperon 15 laptop and it barely gets 10fps. If someone could help me with picking out what needs updates/upgrades that would help me out a lot. I am working on a slimmer budget, but not impossible (~$200). Is it worth trying to salvage this computer or should i just continue with my insperon 15?

    Oh yeah, you can find its specs by typing in "gx270", i cant give links because i only have 1 post.
  2. Route44

    Route44 TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 11,979   +71

    Looking at the system specs there are several issues working against you: cpu and the fact that your video card slot is the old AGP and they don't make AGP cards anymore though you can still find a limited stock here: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...100007709 600007850&IsNodeId=1&name=AGP 4X/8X

    You make the minimum requirements for cpu for WoW if your system has the Intel Pentium 4 and not their Celeron cpu. According to the specs this model shipped with either. If the latter than save up and we'll help you build a system because it will not be worth upgrading.

    As for the link the only two cards that are worth considering are the HIS 4670 and the Gigabyte 4650 where WoW is concerned. Still even if it a Pentium 4 IMO I doubt spending money on a video card upgrade is worth it.

    * What other games are you considering? Do you have two gigs of RAM installed?
  3. teddyzaper

    teddyzaper TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 27

    I dont know if i have 2 gigs of ram, but i plan on playing WoW, LoL, starcraft II, minecraft, and maybe other games like diablo 3.

    So, you are saying i shouldnt bother upgrading. If so, that is the kind of answer i wanted, and thank you. I am willing to put the effort in learning and upgrading my computer if it is worth it, but if it isnt, why bother.

    ok, so i read the manual page thing on Dell and i have the intel 4 processor. So what should i do to upgrade my computer? video card? i honestly have no clue so it would be better if you just gave me exactly the item that i need. (i can go a bit over budget, ~$300 total if necessary)
  4. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,686   +350

    At the $300 mark I'd start looking at a new system. Maybe you could ebay the Optiplex for a little more cash.

    The "budget box" from the Techspot Desktop buying guide comes in at $385.
    You could survive with the AMD integrated GPU initially and save up for a discrete graphics card later on.
    I really think that old $80 dollar AGP cards aren't going to be better than the modern AMD integrated GPU. I personally wouldn't sink money into old technology, especially when paying more for something just because it uses an old connection type (modern graphics cards use PCI-E connections). If you don't sell the Optiplex machine for money then you may at least be able to use the case (if it is ATX motherboard standard size), optical drive, hard disk and perhaps power supply for a new system taking the overall cost down to closer to the $300 (and again adding a discrete GPU at a later date). This would need some further investigation into the Power Supply wattage and connections.

    As can be seen here that AMD-3850 with the 6550D graphics core can manage to run WoW at fair settings(albeit at 1024x768 but with over 102 FPS it maybe be able to run at a slightly higher resolution and still get over the always preferred 60 FPS):
    Anandtech : The Llano Desktop Preview: AMD A8-3850 CPU & GPU Performance
  5. Route44

    Route44 TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 11,979   +71

    Nice find there Arris. That is pretty impressive for Fusion gpu.

    @teddyzaper - Both Arris and I believe that putting your hard earned $ in old technology is not the way to go. But if you have to play WoW now then see the link I provided and choose one of the two cards I recommended. The thing is you may also have to change out your power supply because your new charge may demand more power -- I said may.

    How long would it take you to save $1000 to $1200?
  6. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,247   +448

    I'd like to go on record as being the third voice against upgrading that 270. Put your money toward something more modern.
  7. teddyzaper

    teddyzaper TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 27

    well, see the thing is, i could go with a new system, but i also have other hobbies. My other hobby is fishkeeping, and i would like to get another fish tank if i cant afford to upgrade my system.

    I was planning on getting a gaming mouse and keyboard along with this computer, and those both come out to $230. so if i wanted to, i could forget about those for now and add the 2 sums together and have ~$400-500. All this money comes from my b-day which is tomorrow (yay!) so the amount i gain might be more or less. My parents are against gaming so they would give me more money toward my fish tank if i went that way.

    I think that starting from scratch would be so much fun so im kind of leaning towards that. a few questions though on that. Can i use my old computer casing, i have the gx270 and a broken dimension 9100 (some of the parts may be salvageable if its worth bothering). I prefer the dimension case, but if that isnt possible and i need to get a new one that would be fine with me. Also, i dont need a monitor, sound system, or any accessories. What would be a good piece of hardware that i should focus my money on, or what items should i get (this would make it easier)?

    You guys are awsome for all the help and support, :blush:

    P.S. these random questions are very bad.... "what number goes between 4 and 8 and before 7 (5 and 6)"................................. -_-
  8. GeforcerFX

    GeforcerFX TS Evangelist Posts: 538   +164

    Dell Expert here

    Okay i am a sell proclaimed dell expert here, the gx270 would be northwood pentium 4 with ddr (not 2) maxing at 400mhz, and AGP. Heres your problem the northwoods never got as fast as the prescotts, ddr2 is much better and almost twice as fast, and agp cards are very expensive for there performance, same as the ddr. As said already u can save the $200 u would prob spend on this, and just add another $200 and u could have a computer that could play wow twice as good as this one ever could. As said before this system is to old for upgrading and too old for gaming anymore, also the gx270 had major capacitor problems so adding the extra strain of these new games onto the system would prob result in a blown/leaking capacitor, making all your upgrades wasted.
  9. GeforcerFX

    GeforcerFX TS Evangelist Posts: 538   +164

    also happy b-day
  10. teddyzaper

    teddyzaper TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 27

    ok, so trying to save that comp is out of the question. Thanks for letting me know. So now its a question of what do i need to make the perfect computer for my budget.
  11. teddyzaper

    teddyzaper TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 27

  12. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,686   +350

    Happy Birthday Teddyzaper!!! :wave:

    I'd say forget about the gaming mouse and keyboard. Get them later down the road. Unless your existing keyboard and mouse combo are falling apart then there is no rush for those and they won't enhance your gaming experience as much as decent hardware and/or a graphics card will. Since the PC can't play WoW right now then upgrading/replacing the guts of the PC should be your priority. The machine I posted is a budget machine and depending on what you can put together budget wise after removing the keyboard and mouse from your wishlist the The Entry-Level Rig might be a possibility (or similar).
  13. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,686   +350

    Yup, just got a Lenovo S205 netbook with AMD E-350. It managed 30 fps in CS:Source. I'm really quite impressed with the whole Fusion/APU approach AMD has taken. Strange that we're almost seeing a full circle back to the "CPU" (albeit vastly different from ones 10+ years) ago do the video processing again, well the same piece of silicon anyway.
  14. teddyzaper

    teddyzaper TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 27

    i think that i will go with the entry level rig. I hope i have enough money, if not i will save a bit. Is there any instructions on how to put this together or do i need to find some online? Is it difficult/will i need any special tools? Can i use my case instead of the case they have recomended?

    Thanks again. and...... MAH B-DAY wewt.:D
  15. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,686   +350

    I'll have a look at the Opti case, might be able to use that to save a a little.
    The instructions are basically to keep the components away from any source of static electricity. It's pretty much plug and play nowadays. Motherboards come with instructions of how to put memory, CPU and video cards in, and most connections/slots can only be connected/filled one way due to the design and shape of the connectors/components. I'm sure there will be some guides and videos on the web, but it's fairly straight forward. What gets a little more complicated is messing with the BIOS, overclocking and the likes.
  16. teddyzaper

    teddyzaper TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 27

    ok, so today is my b-day so i am getting all the money from that. so faar i have $200, but i still have some others that will give me some money. my parents are willing to put in about $175 so that is $375, and i will probably add a bit of my stash. (around $400 total). at the end of today i will find my total and perhaps order everything.

    update: ok, i have $500. i could save and go for the more expensive setup, but is it really worth it? i would be saving lots of money if i got the cheaper one. Do you think i would be happy with the cheaper comp?
  17. GeforcerFX

    GeforcerFX TS Evangelist Posts: 538   +164

    what computer?

    do u have a link? the one linked was $600 without monitors and accessories. $500 can build a decent computer, but u would need some tech skills and ability to dig for good deals, even certain parts can be bought used. You can easily assemble a system that can handle anything blizzard has on the market atm for that, suggestion stay away from box stores there overpriced, shop online but becareful. If u want me to find parts let me know (its a hobby of mine :), but u can easily build acomputer for 500 that can game (i have lots of times)
  18. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,686   +350

    Don't commit yourself into getting one of the recommended builds from TechSpot, I only linked them as a guideline to what was possible for the money. As GeforcerFX has said you can probably build something with a different selection of parts that's almost as good or better in some aspects than the one from the TechSpot guide.

    For instance some online retailers do "Combo" or "Barebones" kits which offer good value for money.

    Newegg do Kingston Genesis Blue/Phenom II X4 965 SuperCombo which includes a Radeon HD 6850 graphics card for $494.99 with $35.99 mail in rebates. The CPU isn't the latest and greatest but should do the job for gaming and that graphics card will let you run WoW and other games at their highest graphical settings(at least up to 1680x1050 resolution). For me I like to play games how they were designed to be played. Playing them with all the graphical options minimized seems almost an insult to the developers :D

    If you end up with an AMD powered PC rather than and Intel you could try and balance out the cost of parts and get a motherboard that has the AM3+ chipset. This would allow for upgrade in the future to new AMD processors yet to be released.

    The majority of games coming out now support multiple cores on CPUs so it is advisable to look at getting a Quad core (Intel i5/Phenom X4 or newer AMD processor). It's often a balancing act with money, for a gaming PC spend a little more on graphics card than processor, for a general purpose PC spend a little more on processor.

    Really depends how much importance you put on graphics quality:
    An example video of WoW running with low/medium graphics - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSPp3_KSEwA
    An example video of WoW running with Ultra high graphics settings - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54AYf2ACvlY

    I used to have a low powered work laptop which I used for WoW when visiting a friend and my desktop PC is usually near to top end specifications.
    Playing WoW with minimum settings on the laptop was visually almost like playing a completely different game from on the top end desktop PC. For me the immersion in the game world is more complete with the higher detail/higher graphic effect settings than with the basic settings.
  19. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,686   +350

    From http://www.dell.com/downloads/us/products/optix/gx270_spec.pdf

    You won't be able to use the PSU from the old machine for a new one. Recommend 500W+ nowadays for any reasonably powerful PC. But if you have the "Desktop" version you should be able to use that case to put a new PC in.

    PS: Whatever you decide to do, post what deal or combination of components you are considering and we'll advise what alternate/better options are available for the price. In fact it would probably be better to post a new thread specifically asking "What do you think of this build?" and link components you have selected, the resolution you will be gaming at(usually best with the maximum your computer monitor supports) and what your total budget is?

    When looking at CPUs and graphics cards I have found that Anandtech.com has a very useful tool - http://www.anandtech.com/bench/CPU/2
    You can compare two products directly for instance the Nvidia GTX 460 graphics card vs the AMD 6850 card.
  20. teddyzaper

    teddyzaper TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 27

    oh my, thank you so much. I will read more into all of this and try to chose what would work best for me. I dont even know all the parts in a computer (i got most of them down) so i will be looking into that. I know not to shop at a box store (learned through my fishkeeping hobby when a filter was $500 at store and $300 online). when i create a new post, i will link it in this thread just incase you dont see it. I would love to run maximum settings on WoW, and yes, i know the difference is amazing. My screen is a Samsung SyncMaster 906BW, which i really like :D.

    I gtg now, but i will get on the computer in a bit and start my research!
  21. teddyzaper

    teddyzaper TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 27

    just found a really epic youtube series by newegg that shows everything that i was asking :D now i just gotta watch it and chose my parts XD... here is the link if u want to watch it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPIXAtNGGCw
  22. Route44

    Route44 TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 11,979   +71

    I love the Samsung SyncMaster as well. It is all I run.

    That Phenom quad core system that Arris linked you to will do you fine. And if you do decide to scrimp and get yourself an AMD3+ so much the better.

    When you decide on the parts give us the list.
  23. ---agissi---

    ---agissi--- TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,977   +15

    You dont need a very expensive computer to play WOW, and there are plenty of expensive parts so I'd hate to see you spend more then you need to. WOW isnt very demanding given today's technology improvements.

    I would try to reuse as many parts as possible to save money. ie. The case, hdd, powersupply, cdrom.

    The optiplex 270 takes a mATX motherboard. That stands for micro ATX. There are two main sizes for motherboards, mATX and ATX. ATX is full size, mATX is mini. Then theres ITX which is new and really, really small.

    If you use your Dimension 9100 it may take an ATX size motherboard.

    See if you can get one of AMD's new chips called the Fusion, with the GPU built in so you dont add extra strain on the powersupply and spend additional money on a videocard+having to upgrade a powersupply or perhaps burnout your videocard or powersupply because it cant handle the powerdraw of a card you add in there.

    So you after: AMD motherboard with the correct socket for a Fusion chip to fit into. I forget what socket it is. Socket F1 or ?

    Correct speed memory to go with the Fusion CPU. It probably takes DDR3 1333 or 1600. Get the cheapest memory you can, dont be fooled into paying more. Lower CAS latencies wont give you any real benefit.

    And the AMD Fusion chip. That has a videocard (GPU/graphics processing unit) built into it so no need for a VC. You should be able to do that for under $300 I hope. 2GBs of memory will get you by on Win7, it will wonderfully on WinXP. If your using Windows 7 aim for 4GBs if you can, it'll cost twice as much though. Remember if you get a motherboard with 4 slots you can always get 2GBs now and add 2GBs later if you feel like it. Or if the motherboard only has 2 memory slots (called DIMM's) get a single stick of 2GB DDR3 1333/1600 for $25 or whatever they are today you'll still have room for another 2 or 4GB stick later.

    Checkout the combo deals on newegg, they might have a Fusion CPU/mobo/memory combo with a discount. However even so you may be able to find a better deal sorting through the cheapest parts in mobos & memory.
  24. teddyzaper

    teddyzaper TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 27

  25. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,686   +350

    This is a very common misconception. It isn't that WoW isn't demanding, it's just that it scales very well depending on graphical options and resolution allowing it to run on many different classes of computer systems. Running at Ultra settings with everything possible maxed at 1920x1200 I get less than 30 fps in cities(large population of players characters around) on my machine (2 x 5850 1GB cards in crossfire). Saying that I do get over a hundred most of the time in general play in WoW. But with a single 5850 I was seeing under 60 FPS(this usually is what people look for as often monitors have a 60Hz refresh rate so you can use Vsync so you don't get visual tearing and other problems. Human eye shouldn't be able to tell the difference between 25 FPS and 60 but it is smoother and does make a difference in computer gaming) in raid/battleground enviroments at these settings. Crossfire is overkill for this game but it's not the only game I play.

    You don't need an expensive computer to play WoW (For example I'm about to try installing it on a £270 netbook with AMD E-350 Fusion APU with lowest settings to see if it can run) but I wouldn't like to have to play with the very minimum settings. Plus buying the cheapest system you can now means the next time a game is released that you think "Ooo I'd like to try that", you probably won't be able to. Best investing a little more for the longevity of the system.

    I suggest having a look through http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/world-of-warcraft-cataclysm-directx-11-performance,2793.html

    We have considered that possibility already, but still a good suggestion :)


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