1. PuNKeMoN

    OP PuNKeMoN GBAtemp Regular
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    I have a desktop from the early 2000s I've been tinkering with since I was a teenager. I like the case but jeez I hate the mobo on this thing.
    A Dell Dimension 8300.
    Win XP
    Pentium 4. 2.80 GHz
    2.25 GB RAM
    Nvidia GeForce4 MX 440 with AGP8X
    3.5" floppy (removed)
    Generic CD/DVD reader/writer
    LG Lightscribe CD/DVD reader/writer
    120GB SATA HDD system drive
    160GB SATA HDD extra storage
    8 USB 2.0 ports, 2 front 6 rear
    5 PCI ports

    It's pretty ok for most activities I use it for, emulators, ripping, burning, backing up data, photo editing, web browsing and video playback. But...
    The motherboard sucks for 3 reasons:
    1
    I tried installing a Blu Ray drive. New hardware installed and updated drivers but the damn thing didn't recognize Blu Ray discs, only CD & DVD media. Then tried with a Lightscribe drive, and the lightscribe function didn't work either.
    2
    It only has 2 SATA connectors. The 3.5" floppy drive is useless and I can't hook an IDE HDD up to the port it occupied as far as I know.
    3
    No newer graphics cards I've tried fit in the AGP slot.

    I don't know if this thing is even worth messing with anymore. I'm afraid it's as good as it can get.
    Is there a technomancer in the house who's got some recommendations for making this dinosaur PC roar? Or should I gut it, keep the case, and get new parts?
     
  2. Song of storms

    Song of storms GBAtemp Advanced Fan
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    1 Upgrade your RAM to 4GB. That's the highest you can go with a 32-bit machine.
    2 Upgrade your CPU to Intel SL7CH
    3 Replace your main HDD with an SSD
    4 Replace your graphics card with a Radeon HD 4650 AGP

    As for the Bluray, try using it with a Live version of Linux. If it works there, you need to reinstall Windows.
     
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  3. TotalInsanity4

    TotalInsanity4 GBAtemp Supreme Overlord
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    Honestly at that point I'd almost just build a new system in it, the fact that it HAS an AGP slot in it really is a testament to its age. Do you know if it's a semi-standard mATX form factor? Because if it is, you could at least keep the case
     
  4. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer
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    I should also note that a lot of people are building machines of this age to play games -- many a game from 1995-2000 that might have continued working with XP might well struggle with 7, 8 or 10. Similarly DOS stuff probably could still be coaxed into working. To that end it could do well for you.

    If you can get a swish AGP card in there (and there are a few, though they can be quite expensive for the very best as people dismissed them at the time and then went "hang on"), maybe a nice sound card (there are some ones being built with new chips these days) and otherwise tweak it accordingly you can do well. The P4 might limit things a bit (you could probably go fairly far down the core2quad line and still have something that does most directx9 games, which also means most things until the PS360 died, though for single core performance there might be cases of the P4 winning out).
     
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  5. PuNKeMoN

    OP PuNKeMoN GBAtemp Regular
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    1 Yeah I can upgrade the RAM further. It came with 512MB. It has room for 4 chips. If I recall it uses DDR2. Should be relatively easy and inexpensive to snag 4x 1GB DDR2 nowadays.

    2 Isn't the CPU affixed to the mobo? Would I have to desolder it and solder a new one?

    3 I already have an SSD. It is the same capacity as my ipod Classic and therefore holds my music collection. I don't want to make it a system drive. Also, I have little to no experience creating a bootable drive. Although I did upgrade my OG Xbox HDD to 80GB and as I recall that involved a bootable cdrom and hotswapping drives.

    4 I'm not aware if the Radeon is better than the Gforce but my tv has VGA input so I've been using that.

    I have absolutely no experience installing/reinstalling an OS. I am not opposed to the idea but I'd be a little nervous the whole time.

    I do the upgrades as a hobby so I'm not exactly well versed. I know enough to get the job done but how do I identify a "semi-standard mATX form factor"? Because I do like the case. It's pretty roomy inside and a lot if stuff can fit in there.

    Yes! @FAST6191 I knew you'd provide some valuable input here. Thank you!
    Older games like Counterstrike, Doom 2, Diablo 2 and emulation from NES through MAME are my biggest interest. I tried PS2 emulation but it errors out because of lack of pixel shaders, whatever that means.
    Thank you for the advice. I was thinking my P4 was decent enough for the applications desired.
     
  6. TotalInsanity4

    TotalInsanity4 GBAtemp Supreme Overlord
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    If you could open the case up and take pictures of the motherboard with a ruler measuring the height and width I'd be able to tell you
     
  7. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer
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    "Counterstrike, Doom 2, Diablo 2"
    A game from 1994 and very much a software ran DOS game vs two games from 2000 or so and very much in the directX era? I know it looks like there was only 6 years but at that point in time 6 years meant an awful awful lot (today if you rebuild your high end machine every 12 months you gain next to nothing, back then you had to do it every 12 months to even stay in the game), perhaps not quite as much as the 6 years before the start of that. XKCD because I can https://xkcd.com/771/
    That said that you lumped all those together like that made for the best "bloody hell I am old" moment in some time.

    Similarly PS2 emulation is still something of a new concept and considered a forefront of emulation. After the PS1-N64 bit era (themselves not emulated the best) then emulation became massively harder by most estimations -- the gamecube-wii and wii u stuff being the exception and almost unprecedented. MAME also runs the gamut from
     
  8. PuNKeMoN

    OP PuNKeMoN GBAtemp Regular
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    A photo I can do, but I lack a ruler or any sort of measuring device to show the dimensions accurately.

    Nothing wrong with being advanced in age. I have some good memories of many older games and would like it if my soon to be born son has a similar experience growing up. Age doesn't devalue these games at all because the gameplay and or stories are top notch, however, nostalgia makes them look prettier in my mind. My hope (and plan) is that my son will enjoy the older games before playing newer ones, same way I did, so as to increase his appreciation for what is now, rather than taking it for granted.
     
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  9. TotalInsanity4

    TotalInsanity4 GBAtemp Supreme Overlord
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    Ok. In that case photos would be NICE, but not necessary, I'll try to do some research online

    If you can get an 8.5"/11" sheet of white paper covering/side-by-side with the motherboard in one of the shots, though, that would be helpful in a pinch

    Edit: Ohhhh boy. Ok, so from what I'm seeing the motherboard IS a variation of mATX, which means a modern motherboard SHOULD fit in there, but supposedly a lot of the connectors are proprietary. I'm gonna need you to take pictures of literally angle of the case you can, open and closed, since pictures are kinda sparse (provided you're willing, of course), and it would be nice if you could also take a picture of all the motherboard connections aside from the floppy/IDE drive ones. I THINK that we could make this work, if that's the route you would want to go, but it would be interesting and require you to potentially do a little more modification than would be standard for any "normal" PC build.

    And, obviously, I (and I assume everyone else that's interested in this thread) would be here to help you through it
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2018
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  10. Y0shII

    Y0shII Advanced Member
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    I had a custom system with a similar configuration, however those Dell desktops are nice for running Xp and old games (however I do not like the power supply, sometimes a replacement is no easy to come by and you may need to adapt the case for a regular power supply).

    Here is the service manual so you can have an idea of the possible upgrades with that motherboard (I hope it is the right one): https://downloads.dell.com/manuals/...ktops/dimension-8300_service manual_en-us.pdf

    -Seems like it only supports 32 bits OS, so if you want to run something newer then you maybe want to check any linux distribution. Those tend to be easy on that kind of hardware. I ran vista on my old P4 however it was kind of slow, did not try win7 though..... but it might work just a bit slower.
    -You can upgrade up to 4 GB of memory if you can find it for cheap, that is the maximum supported by hardware and OS.
    -For the hard drive one ssd as boot drive can help to speed up things (small ones are fine for running xp or linux, no need anything fancy or big), also you can add a sata port card so you do not need to rely on the ide ports (you can also use a compact flash to ide adapter if needed)
    -AGP cards are hard to find and sometimes expensive (your current card is fine for old stuff or you can try one ati/amd as previously suggested) and it is fine if you prefer one brand but take in consideration prices (nvidia cards tend to be more pricey depending of the model)
    -Also take in consideration the power supply when you upgrade the hardware, those machines include a weak power supply so that is important when you add more drives and a new graphic card.

    It is possible to keep the case and try to fit a new motherboard, however you may need to adapt it and maybe need to cut the I/O port shield to fit the new one (unless you want to leave it with a hole and do not mind dust inside). I would keep it for running old software, games and maybe testing old hardware.
     
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  11. Classicgamer

    Classicgamer GBAtemp Advanced Fan
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    Well said! I have a similar hope for my kiddos who are under 3yrs of age. Their ability to retain attention for gaming won’t be for another 2yrs though. I will introduce her to NES first and hope she rocks it not even knowing snes is a thing, etc.
     
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  12. PuNKeMoN

    OP PuNKeMoN GBAtemp Regular
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    @TotalInsanity4
    I greatly appreciate the effort you've already put in. I should be able to get the photos snapped attached sometime after work. Do you want me to remove everything that's plugged in just so we're looking at the board when I do those pics?

    @Y0shII
    Welcome to the discussion. Glad to have you here. I have already replaced the power supply, but it's more than likely the same underpowered box because I pulled it from another Dell. The original bit the big one after about 10 years of service which seems decent to me because I rarely turned it off. Does/Did the setup you had come with a graphics card or was the factory default integrated graphics?
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2018
  13. TotalInsanity4

    TotalInsanity4 GBAtemp Supreme Overlord
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    Either works, but you don't need to unplug anything if it'll be a hassle because most plugs are pretty recognizable, even just by the cable ends
     
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  14. Originality

    Originality Chibi-neko
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    Regarding Blu-ray, Windows does not support Blu-ray by default because of licensing issues. You’ll need a third party software to play back Blu-rays. Many of these are paid, but I think VLC supports them. It’s been forever since I tried.
     
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  15. slaphappygamer

    slaphappygamer GBAPerm
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    Having an SSD as your main drive is a fantastic upgrade. I did it on my 2007 Inspiron and am totally pleased with it. My laptop boots up in less than 20 seconds. It’s so quiet too!
     
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  16. TotalInsanity4

    TotalInsanity4 GBAtemp Supreme Overlord
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    He could also use MakeMKV to dump it to a decrypted file just to play it, then delete the file afterwards. It's clunky and would rely on a bunch of free disk space, but it'd probably work if nothing else did
     
  17. Y0shII

    Y0shII Advanced Member
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    Glad to be here and provide any help. It was a custom build (bought all the parts as a project for a media center pc) and the original video card was an Ati Radeon All in Wonder 9600, then I upgraded to a Radeon X1650 Pro. First I had an el-cheapo power supply that almost killed that machine and then replaced by a Thermaltake 500 W (I still have that one inside an empty case waiting for a new project...).

    Regarding that Dell case, I had the opportunity to work on one of those at home and the owner replaced the power supply, however they could not find an original replacement and they had to cut the case to fit a regular one.... it was not pretty but it worked. If you are good with cutting tools you can try to fit a new one, same goes for a new motherboard but I believe there could be other problems like proprietary connectors and standoff for mounting a new board (along with the I/O shield).
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2018
  18. Y0shII

    Y0shII Advanced Member
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    I forgot the bluray issue, looks like win xp does not support UDF 2.50 file systems (used by blurays) so that is why the discs are not recognized. It is possible that one playback app (like powerdvd or windvd) can install the required drivers for your system, it is better to move to a more "modern" OS like vista that has UDF support out of the box and then rip those discs, however a P4 is not powerful enough for transcoding, encoding and playback of hd content.

    https://123copydvd.com/support/articles/unable-to-recognize-or-load-bluray-discs-on-windows-xp/
     
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  19. PuNKeMoN

    OP PuNKeMoN GBAtemp Regular
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    Damn. I did not know that.
    Brutal. Well good thing I own a PS3.

    Yo, @TotalInsanity4
    Here's some photos.
    20180730_215913.jpg 20180730_220017.jpg 20180730_220102.jpg 20180730_220325.jpg 20180730_220353.jpg 20180730_220408.jpg 20180730_220420.jpg 20180730_220437.jpg 20180730_220454.jpg 20180730_220557.jpg
     
  20. TotalInsanity4

    TotalInsanity4 GBAtemp Supreme Overlord
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    Aha... Hm... That's a little more complicated that I was expecting it to be. The good news is the motherboard standoffs all look to be in the right places, and it looks like the power supply and backplate are both replaceable. The bad news though is that it looks like the front panel connectors are on a proprietary cable with a proprietary connectors, which means you'd either have to split the end up and find a way to attach them to the motherboard pins, completely rewire them, or splice them onto modern ends. All of that is doable, but it depends on how determined you'd be to modernizing the interior components while keeping that case, and how willing you'd be to deal with unforseen challenges in the building process
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2018
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