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Upgrading a Dell desktop.
Posted by: Catzilla
Date: December 24, 2014 03:25PM
My brother, who is in a nursing home, has a Dell Vostro 220 tower running Vista. It's a C2D with 2GB ram. It has become basically unusable even for his simple needs, email and some light browsing. I took it home thinking I'll max out the ram and update it to Win 7. I want to nuke and pave, will this be difficult? I will probably get it online tonight and upgrade to beat the christmas rush.
He's a retired EE and very set in his ways, so no Mac for him.
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Re: Upgrading a Dell desktop.
Posted by: Robert M
Date: December 24, 2014 03:40PM
Cat,

Here are the specs for that model:

[www.dell.com]

It maxes out at 4 gigs of RAM. I expected it to handle more RAM that that. Maybe OWC has sticks that will allow it to access more than just 4 gigs? They had sticks that let an old Mac Mini access 3 gigs of RAM when, by Apple specs, it maxed out at 2 gigs. An SSD may be a worthwhile upgrade if one will work in the machine. OWC has the Crucial M500 on sale and I'm betting a lower capacity model would probably be sufficient for him. It would be dependent on how much space he has left on the existing drive.

The end result of a RAM upgrade and SSD would be a huge improvement in performance and it won't cost an arm and a leg. Maybe a couple of fingers and toes. That and some troubleshooting. I'd want to know what, aside from the hardware, is actually slowing down the machine to the point that your brother feels it's unusable. Backing up, nuke and paving and reinstalling is worth a try, too.

Definitely the backing up part, especially if you're upgrading any of the hardware.

Robert
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Re: Upgrading a Dell desktop.
Posted by: Catzilla
Date: December 24, 2014 03:50PM
Thanks for the link, that's the beast.
I asked if he had anything he wanted to save,"nope". I'll get it booted and see if I can save bookmarks and perhaps contacts.
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Re: Upgrading a Dell desktop.
Posted by: Filliam H. Muffman
Date: December 24, 2014 03:56PM
Does he have any upgrades like a discrete GPU? What does he use as a display? Does he use the optical drive much? Does he own any Apps that might have a problem upgrading to 8.1?

I'm not sure you can easily get 4 GB of RAM for it any more. The cost of RAM and Win7 bumps it perilously cost to the cost of the $250-$280 commodity laptops with Win8.1 and 4 GB of RAM.



In tha 360. MRF User Map
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Re: Upgrading a Dell desktop.
Posted by: Catzilla
Date: December 24, 2014 04:02PM
Basic Windows apps, built in graphics, old Staples 17" or maybe 19" VGA LCD, and he never uses the optical. I just started looking but the cost of the max ram is around $50.
I was thinking Win 7 would improve his experience but I could just reinstall Vista.
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Re: Upgrading a Dell desktop.
Posted by: Robert M
Date: December 24, 2014 04:03PM
Filliam,

I was thinking along those same lines but dismissed it because commodity laptops and desktops in that price range aren't going to be much of an improvement over the existing machine, even with 4 gigs of RAM and such. Win7 should be dirt cheap. Buy it as an OEM upgrade at the same time as RAM and it should be heavily discounted. Should, of course, is the operative word.

Robert
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Re: Upgrading a Dell desktop.
Posted by: bazookaman
Date: December 24, 2014 04:03PM
Don't forget if you nuke and pave w/o the install disk that came with the system you're going to have the unenviable task of tracking down and installing all the drivers.

When we put a new SSD in my Dell at work, we had to do just that. It was a major PITA.



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Re: Upgrading a Dell desktop.
Posted by: Filliam H. Muffman
Date: December 24, 2014 04:14PM
Robert, the cheapest Win7 OEM I have seen is $80.

I never do a nuke and pave any more specifically because of driver problems, and it is usually even more of a problem with Vista machines. That means a new HD, doing a backup/restore to the new one, then messing with installing the new OS over Vista to keep the drivers. A 120 GB SSD for $60 would speed everything up a lot, but that is now $140 and a few hours of your time.



In tha 360. MRF User Map
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Re: Upgrading a Dell desktop.
Posted by: mrlynn
Date: December 24, 2014 04:14PM
I never used Vista, but it was reputed to be dreadful, so Win7 would be a useful upgrade. My wife has a later-model Vostro (i5 I think); when the HD died out of warranty, I installed an OWC SSD (on the recommendation of folks here), and that definitely made the machine spiffier. Probably a good idea to max out the RAM, too.

You can probably get a newer desktop for fairly short money at the Dell Outlet store, with Win7 Pro installed, which might be a more cost-effective solution.

/Mr Lynn



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Be there!

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Re: Upgrading a Dell desktop.
Posted by: Catzilla
Date: December 24, 2014 04:59PM
Right now I'm doing a restore from the recovery partition. It seemed like it was loaded with all kinds of malware.
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Re: Upgrading a Dell desktop.
Posted by: Carm
Date: December 24, 2014 05:02PM
An upgrade to bios should make it Win 7 OEM compatible.
[www.dell.com]
Run the bios update from a USB Flash drive in DOS.

Dell OEM Win 7 Pro 32bit install disk. $22 [www.ebay.com]
Dell OEM Win 7 Pro 32bit install disk. $12.50 [www.bonanza.com]
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Re: Upgrading a Dell desktop.
Posted by: Bimwad
Date: December 24, 2014 05:41PM
I have such a machine in the office, running Win 7. 2GB is barely adequate for even simple usage.

Maxing out the RAM will result in the biggest improvement, though I can still easily consume all of it with Outlook, an app like Excel or a graphics program, and a couple tab-heavy browsers all running simultaneously. But at least it won't hit VM as quickly, even if it still requires rebooting more often than a Mac does when it slows down.

These machines can unofficially take more than 4GB, but you have to be running the 64-bit version of Windows.

With 4GB, it should be ok.

If in doubt, fire up the resource manager, which will reveal plenty.
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Re: Upgrading a Dell desktop.
Posted by: Catzilla
Date: December 24, 2014 05:54PM
I restored it to new, it runs ok. I'll play with it later.
Thanks for all the tips.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/24/2014 05:54PM by Catzilla.
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Re: Upgrading a Dell desktop.
Posted by: John B.
Date: December 24, 2014 06:34PM
I was going to vote for a malware sweep first, sounds like you already achieved results with that.

If you're going to upgrade the OS, disk, and RAM...you're basically left with the original processor, which at a C2D is the minimum acceptable for Win 7. Unless you get everything at bargain basement rates, might be better off finding an i3 or i5 based refurb somewhere.
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Re: Upgrading a Dell desktop.
Posted by: Racer X
Date: December 25, 2014 12:27AM
Quote
bazookaman
Don't forget if you nuke and pave w/o the install disk that came with the system you're going to have the unenviable task of tracking down and installing all the drivers.

When we put a new SSD in my Dell at work, we had to do just that. It was a major PITA.

On a Dell, you go to Dell's website, and it will read your machine's ID and give you a list of drivers and machine specific firmware updates. It's actually pretty slick.

I have a C2D Macbook Pro with 4 gis of RAM. Still VERY useful. That tower just needs more RAM and a clean install without all the crap bogging it down. My C2Quad Dell still runs sweet with Vista. For a PC of course.
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Re: Upgrading a Dell desktop.
Posted by: Racer X
Date: December 25, 2014 03:15AM
Quote
Filliam H. Muffman
Robert, the cheapest Win7 OEM I have seen is $80.

I never do a nuke and pave any more specifically because of driver problems, and it is usually even more of a problem with Vista machines. That means a new HD, doing a backup/restore to the new one, then messing with installing the new OS over Vista to keep the drivers. A 120 GB SSD for $60 would speed everything up a lot, but that is now $140 and a few hours of your time.

Black Friday it was $4.98 with shipping, after rebate from Tiger Direct. I got 2 copies.

Even a $50 1 TB 7200 RPM drive will be a big improvement over the stock cheapest they could buy drive.
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Re: Upgrading a Dell desktop.
Posted by: Filliam H. Muffman
Date: December 25, 2014 09:55AM
Quote
Racer X
Quote
Filliam H. Muffman
Robert, the cheapest Win7 OEM I have seen is $80.

I never do a nuke and pave any more specifically because of driver problems, and it is usually even more of a problem with Vista machines. That means a new HD, doing a backup/restore to the new one, then messing with installing the new OS over Vista to keep the drivers. A 120 GB SSD for $60 would speed everything up a lot, but that is now $140 and a few hours of your time.

Black Friday it was $4.98 with shipping, after rebate from Tiger Direct. I got 2 copies.

Even a $50 1 TB 7200 RPM drive will be a big improvement over the stock cheapest they could buy drive.

That's so nice of you to upload an image of the install disk and then sell the activation code to Catzilla at cost! Merry Christmas everybody!



In tha 360. MRF User Map
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Re: Upgrading a Dell desktop.
Posted by: Catzilla
Date: December 25, 2014 10:21AM
The worst part is that I have a legal license to a copy of 8 that I'm not using, I bought it from Microsoft for $40 when they were offering it for cheep. I loaded it then unloaded it because it was so buggy. My brother wouldn't like the interface anyway. I found out its a 2.66ghz C2D, btw.
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