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  • What would you suggest?

    Home Forums AskWoody blog What would you suggest?

    • This topic has 28 replies, 18 voices, and was last updated 1 month ago.
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      • #2362007
        Susan Bradley
        Manager

        Patrick writes….. At the present, I am running a desktop 11 year old Dell Studio 540 with an Intel Core 2 Quad Q8300 at 2.50 gHz (purchased in 2009)
        [See the full post at: What would you suggest?]

        Susan Bradley Patch Lady

      • #2362016
        TechTango
        AskWoody Plus

        Definitely get a new computer.   Eleven years of use on the original hardware with no major changes is extraordinary, yet to continue using it will likely burn up extraordinary amounts of your time on first one thing then another.

      • #2362013
        anonymous
        Guest

        Replacing the hard drive should satisfy most computer needs most people would have.  That CPU can run 64-bit Windows.  If you get an SSD to replace it you will need a mounting bracket / bay converter.

        Add a wired USB ethernet adapter, or if the PCI slot is unused add an ethernet card, to fix the internet issue.  You may be able to get either for under $20.  Or, check or reset the router settings and DHCP to try to fix the wired internet.  And verify the cable is good.

      • #2362018
        R
        AskWoody Plus

        As said here: just replace the HD with an SSD. These things are cheap, especially the 512 GB sized ones. Big chance you’ll be blown out of your chair by the speed of your ‘renewed’ computer. It’ll give you some extra years of system-life for nearly no investment.

      • #2362019
        Ascaris
        AskWoody MVP

        There was no mention of the budget that the owner of the Dell is looking at, nor what the computer is being used for, and those are key factors in what I would suggest. The Core 2 is no barn-burner by modern standards, but for a machine well over a decade old, it holds its own pretty well on simpler tasks.

        If the person in question can afford it, a newer PC will fix the hard drive issue, certainly, and be much quicker and more efficient. That’s what I would suggest if money is not especially tight. Even a modern low end machine will outperform the formerly high-end Core 2 quad, and it may be that once the person sees what he’s been missing in performance, he would not want to go back. Even if that low level of performance that a C2Q delivers is all that is needed, you can get it in a package that uses far less power, maybe even one that is passively cooled and quiet.

        However, if money is tight and the machine is still holding up its end of the deal (meaning that whatever it is that the user does with it, it performs adequately in that person’s opinion), you could replace the HDD with another one or with a 2.5″ SSD (in a 3.5 to 2.5 inch adapter, if need be). If the problem is a bad hard drive, you can solve that problem without replacing the whole thing! Obsolescence only happens when a piece of hardware can no longer do what its owner wants it to do, and if the only issue is that the HDD is making noise (probably the bearings are starting to go, so by all means, rescue that data if needed, which it sounds like has already been done).

        Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.22.1 User Edition)

      • #2362020
        Susan Bradley
        Manager

        The one thing you didn’t mention was how much RAM you had in that computer. These days I don’t look at anything below 8 to 16 gigs.   I’ve had extremely good luck with refurbished HP desktops. I would probably use this as a base and then move your existing hard drive over to it and slave it in this computer:  https://www.amazon.com/HP-EliteDesk-800-Computer-3-20Ghz/dp/B07B8VX5HZ/ref=sr_1_8?dchild=1&keywords=ssd+hp&qid=1619922394&sr=8-8&srs=17871138011 as a sample.

        Susan Bradley Patch Lady

        • #2362203
          anonymous
          Guest

          8 gigs of RAM.

          Also has optical drive.

      • #2362022
        alphacharlie
        AskWoody Plus

        One way to look at this is by considering the trade-off between money and time.

        A whole new computer will cost more than a new SSD, but you will spend less time fiddling around.  Consider adding some RAM also if it has room.  Either or both of those modifications  will make it run faster than it does now.   Assuming the computer is just a tool, in other words if it is a means to some end, then you will have more time to use it for its intended computational purpose.

        If, on the other hand, you have time, energy, and interest to fiddle with the old PC, and you would get some satisfaction from extending its life, then the SSD (+RAM)  is the means, the PC is the end, and your purpose is to see how long you can keep an old PC running – without apology.

        In my case I have one ancient Lenovo laptop with an early 64-bit Intel T9300 Core 2 Duo CPU from the days of Win XP.   That reliable oldster was  upgraded with an 500GB SSD when it was updated from Win 7 to Win 10.  It currently runs Win 10 20H2 and Office 2010; it is indeed used several days each week for professional work.  The original LCD screen has died, so it is now functioning as a desktop-only PC with an external monitor.  The LCD could be replaced… but I don’t think I have any need to take it on the road again, so an LCD replacement project would expend some time and energy with little benefit.

        My household has two newer laptops (Dell Inspiron and ASUS Chromebook from 2019).  There has been no tinkering at all on those machines. except for software updates.  They both work just fine.

        Tinkering with that antique PC is a bit like keeping an antique car running, which is a weekend hobby for many people my age.   (I must admit that I really need to reallocate my time and energy and so I just decided give up on my 1999 Mercedes E320 luxury station wagon.  If you know a young person who would like to keep that vehicle going for another decade, send me a PM.)

        So make your choice between spending $ or spending time.  Whichever scenario you choose, have fun.

      • #2362023
        anonymous
        Guest

        You say plugging in the cable had no effect. Are you able to test if that is a wire or computer issue? If computer it may be a sign that a component of the motherboard is dead, and I would fear the rest would soon follow.

      • #2362030
        KB6OJS
        AskWoody Plus

        For a computer that old, it makes little sense to spend any significant amount of money on upgrading it. Better to replace it with a new system. Make sure it has AT LEAST 8Gb of memory — more if you can afford it. You can NEVER have too much memory!

        If you’re interested in Linux, you might consider putting a modest-sized hard drive in the old machine (perhaps a drive from another computer you have that can be re-purposed?), and install Linux Mint on it. Linux requires less in terms of hardware resources than Windows does, so using an older machine as a Linux platform makes economic sense.

        Should you decide to junk the old system entirely, make ABSOLUTELY SURE you have THOROUGHLY ERASED the hard drive. Same applies if you keep the system but replace the hard drive: anything that holds data needs to have the contents thoroughly blown away before letting it out of your posession.

        There are free utilities available to do this. Be sure to not just reformat it, but to overwrite the drive completely. Some apps provide a “NSA Mode” or words to that effect, which is meant to say that the overwriting process is enough to confound anyone’s attempt to access the data without the resources of a NSA supercomputer. If “NSA Mode” is available on the tool I use at that moment to overwrite a drive, I just use that.

        If such a feature isn’t available, I manually (1) overwrite the data with random values; (2) overwrite it again using another value, like hex 255; (3) overwrite it AGAIN with zeroes; and (4) repeat steps 1-3 a total of 25 times. Yeah, I’m paranoid when it comes to data security, but after nearly 40 years in the IT world I’ve seen a lot of grief come from being lax about such things.

        Hope that helps.

        //Steve//

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2362047
          Susan Bradley
          Manager

          Or use a hammer and beat it to death. You’ll find it releases stress as well 🙂

          Susan Bradley Patch Lady

          5 users thanked author for this post.
          • #2362238
            Tem
            AskWoody Plus

            Or disassemble it.  The platters are nifty but I haven’t found a use for them.  The magnets are small and REALLY powerful — can be a bit hard to pry off the fridge with your fingers.

            1 user thanked author for this post.
          • #2362253
            Drcard:))
            AskWoody Lounger

            I agree with the hammer method.

            Every time someone comes out with a fool proof drive wiping software, not long after that someone else comes up with hardware/software that can still recover data from one of these fool proof wiped drives and the ball goes back to the other side of the court.  Appears that fool proof doesn’t last very long.

            So far no one has perfected how to recover data from broken platters or smashed integrated circuits.

            HTH, Dana:))

            1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2362032
        SteveTree
        AskWoody Lounger

        My ancient Desktop machine has ancient Intel i7 chipset and 16gb RAM. The SSD  affordable when it was new was very small by todays standards. I fitted it’s predecessor’s spinning disk as a data drive. These days it still competes fairly well with a newish Dell i7 laptop fitted with SSD. I suspect the Dell overheads reduce performance but the laptop is good enough without de-Delling it.

        Summing up: Fit a SSD. If necessary,  upgrade RAM per Susan’s advice.

        The other thing you might try is a clean start rather than transfer everything from the current disk. X upgrades from previous versions is likely to have left a lot of clutter.

        Group A (but Telemetry disabled Tasks and Registry)
        Win 7 64 Pro desktop
        Win 10 64 Home portable

      • #2362042
        Paul T
        AskWoody MVP

        As @Ascaris said, it comes down to money. If you can afford it, spend $600 – 800 on a new machine with 8GB RAM and an M2 NVMe SSD.
        Otherwise, buy an SSD to replace the hard drive.

        cheers, Paul

      • #2362052
        Microfix
        AskWoody MVP

        Well, firstly I’d do a thourough visual inspection of the motherboard for possible capacitor swelling. Having ommited from the description the specifications of the Gfx card (with memory size) and system memory that’s installed, these are critical factors on whether to upgrade the existing or not IMO

        In order of expendature:
        1. Cheapest and instant performance boost on existing hardware, if capacitor concerns are ok, upgrade your storage to an SSD and consider adding more system memory if it’s <8Gb.
        Then to top it off nicely, install a Linux Cinnamon/ KDE or MATE based distro

        2. Get a Chromebook if you don't mind google goggling

        3. If your going to start over, do it right this time and get a mac if going for a new system

        | Quality over Quantity |
        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2362082
        EricB
        AskWoody Plus

        I suggest you ensure that your backup strategy is capable making and restoring data backups as well as disk images.  Hardware does not have an unlimited life. Even if you implement an HDD replacement you may find that the system fails catastrophically down the road for some other reason.  An 11 year old system has already rendered good service.  My old system died after 13 years of service.

        So based on my own experience and without regard to monetary consideration I suggest you opt for a new system.

      • #2362091
        alkhall
        AskWoody Lounger

        As others have mentioned, without knowing the purpose of the machine, and the financial capability of the owner, recommendations will vary from new drive to new machine, and even upgrading other components.

        However, looking up the specs, the PC can support up to 8GB of DDR2.  Seeing as how DDR5 is expected to be available later this year, investing in DDR2 makes no sense.

        If the drive is failing, what might fail next?

        Personally, I would buy a new machine.

         

         

      • #2362122
        Canadian Tech
        AskWoody_MVP

        I look after about 100 win7 machines like yours.  I have done all the things that people suggested here.  

        First, realize that 11 years is well past life expectancy of a desktop PC, and way past the life expectancy of a hard drive.

        Second, realize that no matter what you do, the base technology of the main board is not rally up to today’s performance standards and there is nothing you can do about that. For example, you will not be able to get the internet performance anything like the newer ones. Probably 50Mbps is the max Vs. the newer ones that can easily get 500Mbps.

        I will tell you what I would tell a client.  If your needs for this computer are quite basic — email, and occasional browsing, invest in a hard drive (not an SSD) because of space limiations of SSD and cost related to it, but make sure it is a 7200rpm one.

        It is not a matter of whether you will buy a new one, it is a matter of when.

        CT

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2362158
          Ascaris
          AskWoody MVP

          Why would an old machine like that not be able to get higher internet speed than 50 Mb? The limiting factor there is the type of connection between the ISP and whatever modem you’re using. Usually that modem would also be a router (or it would be connected to one) that would be connected wirelessly or by ethernet to whatever devices are on the LAN.

           

           

          Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.22.1 User Edition)

          • #2362390
            ve2mrx
            AskWoody Plus

            It depends on the NIC (100Mbps is common for that period of time) and the CPU must be able to handle the stream. I have a machine much more recent (but low-end) that cannot handle more than 300Mbps on a Gbps network (using iperf).

            YMMV

            Martin

      • #2362160
        Canadian Tech
        AskWoody_MVP

        The main board just cannot deliver those speeds. I have about 6 machines of that vintage. The MB Ethernet connector max’s out around 25 Mbps. I have been able to raise that to 50 in some cases with a brand new PCI board in the bus.

        CT

        • #2362246
          Ascaris
          AskWoody MVP

          Do you know what the spec on the NICs is? If they’re “fast” ethernet, 100Mb, that could explain it. I guess 100 was fast when 10base-T was the standard!

          My Asus F8Sn laptop (a fairly pricey unit at the time, a Core 2 Duo unit from 2008) came with a gigabit ethernet port, and it will happily go to ~110-120 megabytes (not bits!) per second when transferring a file across the LAN (using my router from the same era, though it was a fairly quick one in its day too). I’ve never had internet even close to that speed (40 Mb/s or ~4 MB/s down and 5% of that up is the best I can get as far as terrestrial internet), but I use the LAN for backup and file transfers all the time, using SMB and FTP.

          The wifi (802.11N) is good for up to 25 MB/s on the 5 GHz band, though 22 is more typical, and a lot less on 2.4 (it’s so crowded that I can’t reliably stream music over bluetooth, which uses 2.4 also).

           

          Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.22.1 User Edition)

      • #2362208
        Vincenzo
        AskWoody Lounger

        If you can afford it, I say new computer with an SSD.

        If money is really tight, then a spinning hard drive to keep cost down. And as Susan said, at least 8 GB RAM.

      • #2362204
        anonymous
        Guest

        Yes, we plugged in another (newer, but slower laptop) computer and the CAT 5 worked.

      • #2362211
        joep517
        AskWoody MVP

        I would not keep a machine that old for daily use. There was a time when I would have just replaced the HD and lived with it for a while longer. Now, to me, it is not worth trying to figure out when problems show up whether it is hardware or software. I’ve got better things to do with my time and efforts.

        If you care about the modern security improvements builtin into newer hardware get a new PC.

        --Joe

      • #2362244
        anonymous
        Guest

        I recently replaced a C2Q system on a Universal Abit MB when it wouldn’t post any longer.  My limited experience with Dell is upgrading can be hard as they tend to use proprietary form factors.  But certainly you could get by with a SCSI 1TB SSD if the HD is the main issue, but I guess you’re looking at a full OS install so if you are going to do that maybe it’s time for a replacement?  I also had DDR2 rams fail and they are very expensive for what you get these days.   Unfortunately with the Dell form factor issue it’s probably a no -go doing an MB replacement with 9 or 10 gen i5/i7 or comparable AMD.

         

        On cases that old I’ve had to replace all the case and CPU fans.  They just get too full of crap.  Again don’t know how big a chore that is on a Dell.  So I “bit the bullet” on my C2Q and bought a new case and went with a m-ITX ASRock and 10 gen i5, 1tb  NVMe  SSD and a couple sticks of Patriot DDR4s.  I had a decent GTX-1060 graphics in the old system which I kept though of course just using the intel IGP is an option.

      • #2362393
        ve2mrx
        AskWoody Plus

        I would replace it if it’s connected to Internet.

        No longer supported, lack of updated drivers increase risk of malware and the hardware is already passed its prime. Windows may become incompatible at any moment. Rest in peace in a museum!

        If ISOLATED, SSD upgrade could help. Memory too, if possible. Don’t expect miracles!

        Martin

      • #2364927
        TaskForce141
        AskWoody Lounger
        1. Use canned air to blast any dust from that network port.  Look carefully with a flashlight, any bent pins?  Did the port ever work in the past?
        2. Does Device Manager show anything wrong with the NIC? Ex.- yellow icon (!)
        3. Right click that NIC in Device Manager >Network Adapters, Look at Properties, look at driver version tab.  Did it come from Win 10, or did Win 10 retain the old Win 7 driver?  Per the Dell support site for Studio Desktop D540 , the last NIC driver was: Realtek RTL81XX PCI-E Network Connection, v.7.003.0522.2009, A00
          Realtek RTL81XX PCI-E Network Driver for windows 7,  One thing to try, is download that Dell driver and install that in place of the generic one Win 10 may have put in.
        4. Did you try uninstalling the onboard network card (NIC) in Device Manager >Network Adapters, and then restarting to reinstall it?  Uninstall is on the driver version tab.

         

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