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Old 02-06-2011, 11:07 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Upgrading a Dell Optiplex gx270

I have bought a dell this weekend as a favor to my little brother (he had credit at a store and didnt need it). II am looking for advice on upgrading the system to run similar to an htpc ( Bluray rips, dvd's etc.). I want to run xbmc and either stream the movies off my other computer that is pretty new or upgrade the hardrive to 1 tb.

I was wondering if someone can give me some ideas to up grae this computer to run that stuff:

Specs:
P4 2.8ghz
256mb of ram
onboard videocard ( it has 2 pci s;lots and an agp slot)
40 gig hard drive.
Running XP Prof. sp3

Thank you for any advice. Please Help!
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Old 02-08-2011, 06:58 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Upgrading a Dell Optiplex gx270

Optiplex GX270 specs support the following:

2GB PC3200 RAM -- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...16820145505 X2 = $70

AGP Graphics Card -- Amazon.com: Used and New: PNY Verto GeForce4 Ti 4600 AGP 128 MB DDR Graphics Card = $55.50

I think it will support one or two SATA hard drives, if two:

Newegg.com - Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3320418AS 320GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive X 2 = $90

This old machine will not support Blu-ray. I'd go with a DVD burner like the IDE LG here -- Newegg.com - LG Black 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD+R DL 22X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache IDE CD/DVD Burner LightScribe Support - CD / DVD Burners= $25

To top it off, don't expect to run anything over XP on it. In fact, given your specification regarding HTPC, look seriously at the ubuntu-based Linux distribution called Element (Element OS: Linux on your HTPC). Seriously. Since it's ububntu-based, things are easier for a newbie (and if your little brother is just starting out, he will probably not care it is not windows and do better than someone who is "used to" Windows).

What I have told you comes from experience in what old P4 machines like yours can handle and what they cannot handle. Do not substitute, as I have reasons for each choice made and I'll tell you if you ask.

Best wishes to you and your little brother!
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Old 02-08-2011, 08:06 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Upgrading a Dell Optiplex gx270

that gpu is a terrible waste of money. If you're going to spend 50 bucks on an AGP card get this
Newegg.com - PowerColor AG3450 512MD2-V2 Radeon HD 3450 512MB 64-bit DDR2 AGP 8X HDCP Ready Video Card

You don't really need a 'high end' agp card to stream videos/watch videos, a cheap card will do the trick as long as it's openGL 1.4 minimum for xbmc.

Upgrade the ram to 2gb, anything more and it's just a lot of money gone.

the main problem is that the CPU is what deals with video and you'll most likely run into choppy slow video performance with that cpu.

What's your budget for improvements?
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Old 02-08-2011, 08:46 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Upgrading a Dell Optiplex gx270

ATI does not play well with Linux!
As I said, there is a good reason for each of my choices.
Good find for future reference, however!
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Old 02-08-2011, 08:53 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Upgrading a Dell Optiplex gx270

that assumes that he switches his bro's pc over to linux. and even so you could get a 6200 or fx5500 which is cheaper than the ti4600, and with xbmc relying on the cpu to play videos anything over onboard isn't really necessary at all.
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Old 02-09-2011, 02:05 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Upgrading a Dell Optiplex gx270

Have you personally used a GX270 or GX280?
Theory and reality are two different things. What is your experience with Linux?

A GForce4 can be picked up for nothing or next to nothing, if he looks -- rendering your point here moot.

If I wanted theory, I'd ask an engineer. After all, they're never wrong!
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Old 02-09-2011, 02:42 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Upgrading a Dell Optiplex gx270

With that Pentium 4 you listed on the specs.

Blu-Ray playback (if you get hardware acceleration with that HD 3450 that was recommended)
Minimum P4 3.2GHZ+
Recommended P4 EE's or Older Core 2 Duo's..

Without Hardware acceleration your looking at minimum Core 2 Duo 2.6ghz+ or a Core i5.


I will go out on a limb and say... IF.. A BIG *IF*.... With hardware acceleration you should be able to watch a Blu Ray, but alot if not most movies are VBR, when that bit rate climbs you probably will see framerate loss.

And if you do not have hardware acceleration, forget it.

But, playing DVD's, ripping DVD's, watching downloaded movies (legal ones of course), using your computer as a DVR. It should be fine (but don't expect fast rip times on your DVD's either)

Your CPU is a real bottleneck here, it is a socket 478. And the fastest 478 cpu I know off the top of my head is the P4 EE 3.4ghz. And even then that will cost you $100+ on ebay and it probably will not be supported by the motherboard in your Dell.

I am playing devils advocate, just food for thought. I was once a proud owner of a socket 7, slot 1, a 478 system like yours, LGA775 system, and now a LGA1366 system. Me and intel go way back
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Old 02-09-2011, 03:50 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Upgrading a Dell Optiplex gx270

Quote:
Originally Posted by chamaecyparis View Post
Have you personally used a GX270 or GX280?
Theory and reality are two different things. What is your experience with Linux?

A GForce4 can be picked up for nothing or next to nothing, if he looks -- rendering your point here moot.

If I wanted theory, I'd ask an engineer. After all, they're never wrong!
The thing is, in theory, and reality, Peter.Cort is right.

and any of these cards so far listed can be found for "next to nothing" considering the dinosaur age tech.

Before we jump on the "'theoretically' doesn't cut it" bandwagon rub your image receivers on this page. Graphics Performance List
Usually clears up any "which is better" questions.

Taking all of this in, the GPU still means almost nothing in building an HTPC.
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Old 02-09-2011, 09:02 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Upgrading a Dell Optiplex gx270

Quote:
Originally Posted by chamaecyparis View Post
Have you personally used a GX270 or GX280?
Theory and reality are two different things. What is your experience with Linux?
I don't own one but I've used them before, and it looks like a gx270 would only take a low profile card which that ti 4600 isn't. I'm not giving you theory. My experience with linux doesn't matter in this thread.

Quote:
A GForce4 can be picked up for nothing or next to nothing, if he looks -- rendering your point here moot.
you posted a card that's $55 and ancient technology at this point, and also as I've said twice now the gpu doesn't matter in what he's trying to do with xbmc. so the only reason that he would get a dedicated card is if he would want to play some games.

Also you're upgrades are close to $300. add another 100 bucks and you can build a budget system that destroys the p4.
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Old 02-09-2011, 09:27 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Upgrading a Dell Optiplex gx270

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Originally Posted by Peter.Cort View Post

Also you're upgrades are close to $300. add another 100 bucks and you can build a budget system that destroys the p4.
That's what i would say... instead of spending $300 for something that kind of works, spend another 100 and get something that will definitely work and more.
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