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:  68050     Last Hit:  Tuesday, July 23, 2024 2:07:39 PM
Unique Hit Count:  10284     Last Unique Hit:  Tuesday, July 23, 2024 2:07:39 PM
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 The video is rather outdated with a 3.2 Windows 7 Experience index.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 3289 Step 1: upgrade the processor. I started researching the 945P motherboard   More ...
10104 4/1/2010 9:28:10 AM Server 3469 Step 2: upgrade the video card. Researching the support of the included 37  More ...
10105 4/1/2010 9:28:09 AM Server 3316 Step 3: additional HDTV dual tuner. I decided on the WINTV-HVR-2250 becaus  More ...
10106 4/1/2010 9:28:08 AM Server 3318 Step 4: replace the hard disk. My belief is the problems I was struggling   More ...
10107 4/1/2010 9:28:07 AM Server 3293 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 3366 Step 6: 7.1 surround sound. I decided to maintain my X-Fi Sound Blaster Xt  More ...
10117 4/1/2010 9:28:05 AM Server 3487 Step 7: add a Blue-ray player. My final step was to make my computer do pr  Collapse ...
Last Hit: Tuesday, July 23, 2024 12:01:53 PM

Step 7: add a Blue-ray player. My final step was to make my computer do pretty much everything it could to entertain me. So I picked up the LG BH10 Blue Ray player from Best Buy. There are better Blue Ray reader/writers available, like the Pioneer BDR-205; but I had gift cards. So before opening this retail boxed LG drive, I foolishly ran out to MicroCenter on a Saturday evening to pick up a 4-pin to dual SATA power adapter. Once I got home and cracked open my new drive - it already included one. Popped this into my XPS 400, installed the included CyberLink Suite 8 (including the PowerDVD 8) software (required for Windows 7 as the operating system does not include Blue Ray CODECs) and viola - I was playing my previously viewed Blockbuster purchased Blue Ray movie "Knowing."

Now, something to note about the XPS configuration and this drive. I found that certain programs had difficulty with a setting in the BIOs for the SATA configuration. I in the end switched the SATA Configuration to "Automatically detect RAID - Otherwise ATA" (Default is "Automatically detect RAID - Otherwise ASPI"). When I changed this, certain other programs stopped freezing. This troubled me for hours until I discovered this little setting. Changing this did not affect the booting and operating of my Windows system.

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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