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  • Need advice on upgrading my office computers

    Home Forums AskWoody support PC hardware Questions: What hardware should I get? Need advice on upgrading my office computers

    This topic contains 20 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Paul T 3 weeks, 1 day ago.

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    • #2009090 Reply

      JoeP
      AskWoody Plus

      I have 4 office computers (Dell Optiplex 3020) using Win 7, 64. I recently ran into a HDD issue that has been resolved, but I think it is time to upgrade them to newer Dells. I am looking at the Optiplex 3070 as replacements.

      Here’s a little color on our usage which might help in deciding. They stay on 24/7 and have been since 2014. We are not using them for any major hard usage, just normal office usage. Our applications are mostly cloud based. (Office 365, industry specific cloud based app, etc.) My computer has become a bit bloated. My 500GB HDD is almost full.

      They come from Dell with the following: (although I can change these options for a price)

      Intel Core i5-9500

      Win 10Pro

      8Gb Ram

      2.5″ 1T HDD

      8x DVD RW

      My questions are around the HDD.

      First, does it make a difference in the 2.5″ versus the 3.5″?

      I would like to go with a 1T SDD but it is an extra $540 which seems excessive.

      Would it make sense to go with a 500GB SDD and risk bloating that one as well? I am not sure how much will move over yet.  Yes, I can clean it up, but it seems to gain weight. I could just get the same size SDD and then but another 1T SDD later, but that will add extra time and effort.

      Any thoughts?

    • #2009140 Reply

      MrJimPhelps
      AskWoody_MVP

      As far as functionality goes, it doesn’t matter whether you have a 2.5″ or 3.5″ drive – they both work the same. The concern is, which one will fit into your computer? The fact that you are asking this question tells me that you currently have the Optiplex 3020M (Micro), which takes a 2.5″ drive – a 3.5″ drive won’t fit in the case.

      I have recently upgraded some Dell Optiplex 3020M computers to Windows 10 – they are all running W10-1809 without any problem. Each one has 8GB of RAM and an SSD.

      However, you might want to consider another option – I’ll bet there is a license key sticker for Windows 8.1 on the computer. If so, you could go with Windows 8.1, which will be supported by Microsoft until January 2023. That is the option I would take, unless I had a compelling reason to go with Windows 10.

      Go to heidoc.net, and download and install the Windows and Office ISO Downloader. Then, using the downloaded program, download Windows 8.1. Then use the downloaded file to create an install DVD. Now power down, remove your current hard drive, and install a 2TB drive. Now reboot with the DVD in the drive, and install Windows 8.1. Activate it with the key that is on your sticker. Install all Windows updates once Woody gives the green light, and you will be good to go.

      Now download and install Classic Shell, and configure it to make Windows 8.1 look and feel just like Windows 7.

      By doing the above, you will be able to continue for three more years with an OS which is almost indistinguishable from Windows 7, if you are running Classic Shell.

      Group "L" (Linux Mint)
      with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2009185 Reply

        anonymous

        Thanks MrJim,

        I need to check, but I don’t think my business software will work on Win 8.1, and I don’t see a license key sticker on the machine anywhere so I don’t think that will work for me.

        • #2009236 Reply

          MrJimPhelps
          AskWoody_MVP

          If your software works under Windows 7, it is almost guaranteed to work under Windows 8.1.

          As for no license sticker, go to Dell.com and do a search on your service tag (serial number) to see what the machine shipped with. If it came with Windows 8.1, you could get an activated copy of Windows 8.1 if you could obtain a factory restore disk, either directly from Dell or perhaps by creating one straight out of Windows. You may even have a Windows 8.1 Dell factory restore disk laying around somewhere from when these computers were originally purchased.

          The reason I keep bringing up Windows 8.1 is because, as I recall, the Optiplex 3020Ms that I worked on had Windows 8.1 license stickers on them, yet they were all running Windows 7. My guess is that they were purchased with Windows 8.1 licenses that had downgrade rights, allowing Dell to ship them with Windows 7 installed. But the fact that they had a Windows 8.1 license would allow them to be upgraded to Windows 8.1.

          Windows 10 is a constantly changing target, so you might prefer to go with something that isn’t constantly changing every six months, that is, Windows 8.1.

          Group "L" (Linux Mint)
          with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
    • #2009149 Reply

      mn–
      AskWoody Lounger

      Would it make sense to go with a 500GB SDD and risk bloating that one as well? I am not sure how much will move over yet. Yes, I can clean it up, but it seems to gain weight.

      Some 85% of the time when I’ve seen a Windows 7 system have a “nearly full” disk, it’s been at least mostly one of the Windows 7 update bugs. CBS log bloat, WinSXS bloat… so please check for that first.

      And as of right now, Windows 8.1 Pro is quite fine for normal office usage and seems more stable than any version of Windows 10 except possibly 1607 Enterprise LTSB…

      2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #2009150 Reply

      Rick Corbett
      AskWoody_MVP

      @joep – You didn’t mention whether you are considering the Small Form Factor or Mini Tower variants of the Optiplex 3070.

      For speed, performance and power-saving (given they are left on all the time) I would go for SSD over HDD every time. However, as you’ve found, there’s a huge price differential once you get over 256GB.

      You’ve already nearly filled a 500GB HDD (which seems like a lot of data unless you’re using lots of massive programs locally installed, which – apparently – you’re not.)

      So, back to form factor. I use a Smal Form Factor base unit as my primary PC. I bought it with a 1TB HDD but immediately added a 256GB SSD as the primary drive running the OS and programs. The 1TB HDD is now used solely for data. I consider that the best of both worlds – the speed and performance of SSD for the OS/apps plus the cost effectiveness of HDD for data storage.

      I would suggest you check which, if any, Optiplex 3070 variant has 2 drive trays so you can have one of each type of storage. Looking at the ‘Compare’ tab it appears that *both* the SFF and Mini Tower support 2 internal drives (as well as an optical drive).

      Hope this helps…

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2009151 Reply

        jabeattyauditor
        AskWoody Lounger

        The 1TB HDD is used solely for data. I consider that the best of both worlds – the speed and performance of SDD for the OS/apps plus the cost effectiveness of the HDD for data storage.

        A decent 1TB SSD runs a little over $100 these days – why bother with the slow spinning stuff?

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2009181 Reply

          Rick Corbett
          AskWoody_MVP

          A decent 1TB SSD runs a little over $100 these days – why bother with the slow spinning stuff?

          Not if you buy them from Dell pre-configured, pre-installed, supported and covered by warranty, unfortunately. 🙂

          • #2009184 Reply

            jabeattyauditor
            AskWoody Lounger

            A decent 1TB SSD runs a little over $100 these days – why bother with the slow spinning stuff?

            Not if you buy them from Dell pre-configured, pre-installed, supported and covered by warranty, unfortunately. 🙂

            In all fairness, he’s talking about four PCs and he hasn’t even mentioned Dell support.  🙂

            I’d buy them with the smallest conventional hard disk possible, clone them to decent aftermarket SSDs, then expand the C: drives to the max. Might take a couple hours per PC if you really take your time at the task.

    • #2009186 Reply

      Noel Carboni
      AskWoody_MVP

      Strongly suggest you work to get upgraded SSD storage, even if that means swapping the cheapest possible Dell part for a better SSD.

      Generally speaking you can self-configure some Dell systems. I was able to buy a small and surprisingly inexpensive “bare bones” PowerEdge T20 system a few years ago from them and add my own hardware, without having to swap anything out. It was basically a motherboard and small power supply inside a nice chassis that could stand up or lay on its side, with cables inside that I could plug into SSDs. I got 4 inexpensive SSDs online and made a RAID 5, as well as upgrading the RAM (the thing takes ECC RAM, which I require in any system I get). It ended up being a nice, super-reliable system for like $500. It recently went over a year (running Win 7) without a reboot.

      SVN_Uptime_364_Days_2019-09-25

      -Noel

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    • #2009189 Reply

      JoeP
      AskWoody Plus

      Some 85% of the time when I’ve seen a Windows 7 system have a “nearly full” disk, it’s been at least mostly one of the Windows 7 update bugs. CBS log bloat, WinSXS bloat… so please check for that first.

      Thanks Mn, I will look into that.

      JP

    • #2009193 Reply

      JoeP
      AskWoody Plus

      Generally speaking you can self-configure some Dell systems.

      Thanks Noel,

      I was thinking about this exact same approach earlier today. I am glad to see it come up here. I can get the smaller 256 SSD from Dell and then add a 1TB one from a different supplier. That should be plenty of space for the foreseeable future. I have 12 GB of RAM now but with the SDD, I am hoping it will be faster.

      JP

    • #2009196 Reply

      JoeP
      AskWoody Plus

      You didn’t mention whether you are considering the Small Form Factor or Mini Tower variants of the Optiplex 3070

      Thanks Rick,

      I haven’t decided yet on which box from Dell. Any advantages on either box? I thought they both had space for multiple drives, but I will check again tomorrow. They will both fit into the space available. The Form factor being smaller will have more room for the multitude of cables and such. Does anyone know if the 3.5″ drive will fit in the smaller box?

      • #2009204 Reply

        Rick Corbett
        AskWoody_MVP

        I haven’t decided yet on which box from Dell. Any advantages on either box? I thought they both had space for multiple drives, but I will check again tomorrow. They will both fit into the space available. The Form factor being smaller will have more room for the multitude of cables and such. Does anyone know if the 3.5″ drive will fit in the smaller box?

        The Mini Tower has slightly better air flow… perhaps of consideration if you do a lot of processor-intensive tasks that make the internal fans runs more frequently. Other than that there’s little difference.

        The Optiplex 3070 uses M.2 PCIE NVME SSDs (i.e. slotted into the mainboard rather than requiring a drive tray) so there’s space in both form factors for a standard 3.5″ HDD as well.

        dell_nvme

        These days I prefer the SFF over (C)MT form factor purely because I prefer raising the monitor by placing it on the SFF case rather than having a Mini Tower to one side and thus slightly more out of reach if I want to use USB sticks… but obviously that’s your choice.

        (If you were to take the lid off the MT case you would find that the interior is mostly just an empty space.)

        Hope this helps…

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        • #2009257 Reply

          mn–
          AskWoody Lounger

          (If you were to take the lid off the MT case you would find that the interior is mostly just an empty space.)

          With the obvious difference that you can fit a full-size expansion card in those MT cases, I hope?

          Occasionally still need a custom interface card for some weird device or another…

          1 user thanked author for this post.
          • #2009259 Reply

            Rick Corbett
            AskWoody_MVP

            With the obvious difference that you can fit a full-size expansion card in those MT cases, I hope?

            It’s a good point. I assumed it wasn’t an issue as the OP didn’t seem to mind which… but I know what they say about assumptions. 🙂

            1 user thanked author for this post.
          • #2009296 Reply

            MrJimPhelps
            AskWoody_MVP

            With the obvious difference that you can fit a full-size expansion card in those MT cases, I hope?

            Occasionally still need a custom interface card for some weird device or another…

            For this reason I suggest getting the tower if you have room for it. It has the most expansion room. I would not get the micro unless you had absolutely no space for the computer, because there is no expansion room in the micro’s case.

            Group "L" (Linux Mint)
            with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
            1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2009301 Reply

      Rick Corbett
      AskWoody_MVP

      The Tower has 3 PCIe x1 expansion slots, the SFF only 1 PCIe x1 expansion slot (which uses half-height cards).

      Other than this, there’s no difference between the 2.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2009303 Reply

        jabeattyauditor
        AskWoody Lounger

        The Tower has 3 PCIe x1 expansion slots, the SFF only 1 PCIe x1 expansion slot (which uses half-height cards).

        Other than this, there’s no difference between the 2.

        The tower has a 260-watt power supply vs. the 200-watt supply in the SFF model.

        2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #2009375 Reply

      JoeP
      AskWoody Plus

      The Mini Tower has slightly better air flow… perhaps of consideration if you do a lot of processor-intensive tasks that make the internal fans runs more frequently. Other than that there’s little difference.

      Thanks Rick and everyone else,

      It looks like the tower is the best option for me.

      I will look into getting quotes for the smallest SDD I can get and then plan on installing larger ones once they arrive.

      [Moderator edit] Joe, please only quote the relevant sections – highlight and click quote.

    • #2009843 Reply

      Paul T
      AskWoody MVP

      You don’t need to buy one with an SSD at all if you are going to replace the disk.

      cheers, Paul

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