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Should I upgrade my processor?

2196 Views 15 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Wrench97
Hi, TSF :wave:

Here's the gist of my problem: I'm using a Dell XPS 400 that I pumped a lot of money into back in the day (several years ago now), because I no longer own my macbook pro.

The MB Pro ran my type of games beautifully - particularly Dragon Age, which I ran at max settings. Now that Dragon Age 2 has come out, I'd like to upgrade my PC a bit... Here's some info on my current setup:

Current Graphics Card: ATI Radeon X600 Series.

Graphics Card Slot: PCI Express

System Ram: 4GB

Processor: Intel Pentium D CPU 2.80ghz 2.79ghz
(I know this isn't Core 2, but I believe it is Dual Core, is it not? I can set use the Set Affinity function in the Task Manager to designate a program to Processor 1 and/or 2)

Power Supply: 375w

I already plan on upgrading my graphics card to an ATI Radeon HD 5770 1 GB DDR5 2DVI/HDMI/DisplayPort PCI-Express Video Card , as well as buying a 550w PSU.

My question is: Will I need a new processor to prevent bottlenecking/poor performance on my computer? I don't know too much about processors, but I've researched a bit, and "bottlenecking" keeps coming up.

And if I DO need a better processor, should I just save a bit more to build my own machine at this point? Because in that case, I'm looking at a graphics card, PSU, and processor upgrade.. :4-dontkno

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It is a dual core CPU but it's performance is quite a bit lower than a C2D processor. If you could upgrade to a Core2Duo that would be a big jump in performance.
It is a dual core CPU but it's performance is quite a bit lower than a C2D processor. If you could upgrade to a Core2Duo that would be a big jump in performance.
Thanks for the quick response. From what I understand, the XPS 400 does not support Core 2 Duo processors - although the chip is the same, the necessary BIOS update is unavailable. I have read that replacing the motherboard easily fixes this problem though, as it's the Dell motherboard that causes it....

So now I'm looking at a new graphics card, PSU, motherboard, and stuff :rolleyes:
Yeah, I saw the chipset does support it but if Dell never updated the BIOS you may be out of luck there. If you're going to replace all of that you might as well go for an i5/i7 build.
The XPS400 uses the older 945P ICH6 chipset, Pentium 4 and Pentium D's is all it will support, Dell came out with the XPS410 using the 965P ICH7 to support the C2D's.
I just remembered that there's a crappy Dell Inspiron 531S lying around the house...horrible PSU, memory, etc, but I noticed it's running an AMD 64 Athlon x2 processor, which IS indeed supported by Dragon Age 2 (unlike the Pentium D).

Is it feasible to replace my XPS motherboard with the MOBO from the spare, and simply keep the other hardware from my XPS? The XPS case is much larger, so having the motherboard fit properly shouldn't be an issue. This would allow me to upgrade the processor without having to actually purchase a new motherboard. Thanks for hanging in there, folks.
On Intel's site they list Core2Duos as being supported on the 945P. Maybe it's just incorrect but that's why I mentioned it.
On Intel's site they list Core2Duos as being supported on the 945P. Maybe it's just incorrect but that's why I mentioned it.
And thanks for researching it, bud. I don't think the mistake is with Intel and 945P...I think it's specifically with Dell. From what I understand, they never configured the BIOS of the xps 400 to be compatible with Core2Duo, even though the 945P (used by the 400) is compatible.

In other words, if I had my own custom machine with a 945P chip, I believe I would not have this problem. Figures :rolleyes:
Sorry, I wasn't suggesting you get a C2D processor, I was just replying to the post above mine about Intel saying the 945P supported the processor.
There are later 945 boards that support the C2D's the Dell board will not.

The XPS400 is a BTX board I think the 531s is mAtx board see if the I/O shield is in the same side/location on the rear of the cases.
just an advice,
if you need to upgrade your video card to a the ATI 5 series or to any high end card, you must get a new PSU
the 375 W in the DELL PC is junk
get a decent PSU with at least 650 W and above like Corsair, Thermaltake, Cooler Master, Inwin, but Corsair and Thermaltake are the best
Agreed with Rockmaster. I've seen many problem with DELL (Doesn't Ever Last Longer)

If you plan to add some more new componets, get a good motherboard as they're cheap in these day. I brought mine for £30.

Good Luck with that.
Problem solved! (At least for now)

My search for a specific video card (the 5770 pro) led me to needing a better PSU, which led me to needing a better processor, which led me to needing another motherboard; however, since Dell's BTX motherboard isn't actually the standard BTX (it has a custom design), I would also need to replace the case.

At this point, a new computer seemed like the best way to go...but then I found myself looking at the ATI Radeon 5670. I bought the graphics card, installed it, and voila! I'm running Dragon Age 2 on the XPS (with the pentium D) at HIGH visual settings, and it's running absolutely smoothly and beautifully!

Thanks for the help guys...whenever I get a new machine, I'll get all excited and let you guys know :laugh:
Did you get a new PSU aswell?

I ask because the current one probably would support that card neither (at least, not for too long)
I didn't snag the PSU yet, although they're reasonably priced, so I'll probably order one within the week.

Thus far, the 375w PSU has been responding well to the new card (which requires 400w)...I've read in several places that Dell XPS PSUs are different than other dell crap PSUs, in that they actually tend to underrate their own capacity? (ie, a normal dell 375w PSU is crap, but an XPS's 375w is much more on par with 400-450w). I can neither confirm nor deny this with certainty; regardless, however, I do want a new PSU either way - mine is several years old at this point, so who knows what it's juice is nowadays.

Appreciate the help guys...I'm fairly computer-savvy, but I haven't had to do hardware replacement in several years...and hardware replacement on a Dell frequently gives me headaches :upset:

The good news is, by replacing the hardware on this computer, I'm setting myself up for my next custom machine. When it's finally time to build one, I'll already have RAM, DVD-RW, a PSU, and a graphics card to throw in the case.
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The XPS 375w is the same as any Dell 375w, most Dells use a 305w, the misconception is because the Dell supplies have a higher the normal 12v amperage and lower 3.3v and 5v then standard retail ATX supplies. While not complete junk the 375w in a gaming PC will not hold up long and does not have the overvoltage/overcurrent protections of quality supplies so when pushed and they go bad they will usually take other components out with them.
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