Dell XPS 400 Hardware Upgrades
Closed     Case # 10028     Affiliated Job:  BaBaDou DOT Com
Opened:  Monday, March 15, 2010     Closed:  Thursday, April 1, 2010
Total Hit Count:  66286     Last Hit:  Monday, May 27, 2024 8:52:36 AM
Unique Hit Count:  9802     Last Unique Hit:  Monday, May 27, 2024 8:52:36 AM
Case Type(s):  Helpdesk, Server
Case Notes(s):  All cases are posted for review purposes only. Any implementations should be performed at your own risk.

I have an older Dell XPS 400 (Also known as Dimension 9150) workstation with a 3.2GHz Pentium 4 Prescott Processor, ATI Radeon X600 graphics 256 MB, 4GB RAM (apparently an Intel 945P motherboard with a 32-bit address bus can only use 3.5GB usable memory regardless of the OS 32/64-bit status), 250GB Maxtor 5400 RPM SATA 150 drive, Dual TV tuner & Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeMusic sound card.

My goal is to upgrade this to support a "HD Media Center" with better performance. I currently use this machine in the living room connected to my HDTV via the DVI port on the ATI card for use with Windows Media Center. It has served its purpose well - however the Prescott is 32-bit, does not support hardware virtualization and is only a HyperThread rather than a Dual Core. The video is rather outdated with a 3.2 Windows 7 Experience index. And I have been experiencing an issue - regardless of the operating system - where the drive will beat hard pausing everything in the system until it finishes whatever it is doing.

Action(s) Performed:
Total Action(s): 7
Action # Recorded Date Type Hit(s) User Expand Details
10103 4/1/2010 9:28:11 AM Server 3199 Step 1: upgrade the processor. I started researching the 945P motherboard   More ...
10104 4/1/2010 9:28:10 AM Server 3375 Step 2: upgrade the video card. Researching the support of the included 37  More ...
10105 4/1/2010 9:28:09 AM Server 3216 Step 3: additional HDTV dual tuner. I decided on the WINTV-HVR-2250 becaus  More ...
10106 4/1/2010 9:28:08 AM Server 3227 Step 4: replace the hard disk. My belief is the problems I was struggling   More ...
10107 4/1/2010 9:28:07 AM Server 3196 Step 5: rebuild the system. My current OS was Windows 7 32-bit and I wante  More ...
10108 4/1/2010 9:28:06 AM Server 3292 Step 6: 7.1 surround sound. I decided to maintain my X-Fi Sound Blaster Xt  Collapse ...
Last Hit: Saturday, May 25, 2024 11:23:48 PM

Step 6: 7.1 surround sound. I decided to maintain my X-Fi Sound Blaster XtremeMusic audio card for now. It already supports 7.1 surround sound and decided to pick up the Creative Labs Sound Blaster Home Theatre Cable. I found this on for $19.99 (pre 4% M.S. CashBack). Now I believe I later saw you could get this elsewhere, but while I was researching the SDIF ports between the XtremeMusic card and the GTS 250 - I also discovered the 3-channel 3.5mm support of the XtremeMusic for the additional two speakers. I was so excited to learn there was a single cable to do this that I bought the first one I found. The alternative when I searched 3.5mm 3-channel to RCA was a $39.99 cable and since I would need two of these, $19.99 for it all seemed reasonable. The XtremeMusic has two ports with 3-channel 3.5mm plugs + another 2-channel giving you the 7 speakers + subwoofer. I have not yet received this cable but looking forward to seeing how this works out.
10117 4/1/2010 9:28:05 AM Server 3397 Step 7: add a Blue-ray player. My final step was to make my computer do pr  More ...

In conclusion, I am happy to report everything is working well. I now have my machine at what I think is maxed out in specs. A dual core 3.60GHz Pentium D 960, 7.1 surround sound XtremeMusic, 4 channel TV recording (two in HDTV offering 38 channels through Evanston Clear QAM Comcast $9/month basic cable), 64-bit Windows 7, 2TB internal (plus an additional 1.5TB, 1.5TB & 1TB of External drives), subscribe to NetFlix for online streaming through Media Center, NVIDIA GTS 250 1GB DDR3 (working apparently well on my 375W power supply) and finally my LG Blue Ray reader/writer for crisp movie rentals from NetFlix.

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