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Uitlander
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Need help to do a parts-list to upgrade my PC

Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:03 am

Some months ago I bought a used Dell Optiplex 755 (Intel Core 2 Duo CPU - E8400@3.00GHz, 2.98 GB RAM - PAE) with HP L1706 monitor for around $125. Its running XP Pro, and I want to keep that. Took it to computer shop to have it cleaned of any malware, added in new 8GB RAM, replaced the DVD-ROM with a DVD burner, and installed mobile-rack in the spare HDD bay. So it seems to be running great, except the video resolution is awful, way below DVD quality (like watching distant over-the-air TV stations on CRT-type TV), and there is buffering/hiccups on Internet-TV freesites like putlocker.fm, Youtube, etc. This is an interim PC for use until I can get my custom-build finished, but no idea how long that may take, so I want to make this PC as good as I can without turning it into a $1000 rig, and no idea how cheaply I can do it. I got no clue about a budget, so let's just say I do not want to spend anymore than absolutely necessary to get the job done. I'm in USA (NorCal). I will mostly use this PC to watch Internet-TV, and maybe burn some TV shows or movies to DVD. I do not need anything too fancy like HDMI, HDCP, etc., just want DVD picture quality, and to end or severely limit the buffering. No idea what size this PC is, but it measures 7 inch x 16" X 17". If you need to know anything else to advise, just ask. Thanks for any assistance.
 
demolition
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Re: Need help to do a parts-list to upgrade my PC

Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:39 am

I think you just need to install a decent gfx card in it. I assume you're running with the integrated Intel gfx right now? Because that is horrible compared to modern standards.

Something like a cheap 1GB GeForce GT 710 (which was the cheapest modern card I could find right now) should provide you with much better performance than the standard Intel solution since it will be able to offload much of the decoding and scaling of video streams from the CPU. With this card, I doubt you should have any problems watching videos up to 1080p resolution.
 
SkyWarrior
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Re: Need help to do a parts-list to upgrade my PC

Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:45 am

Is that a SFF or regular tower?

Either way you can add Geforce GT 1030 or 1050 to get decent price / performance for videos and some light gaming. For the OS windows XP Pro is way too old for any potential upgrade after this time. I would suggest windows 7 at least or maybe a potent linux distro for that pc.
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NTMBK
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Re: Need help to do a parts-list to upgrade my PC

Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:51 am

Which version of the Optiplex 755 do you have? They came in a few different sizes of cases- the manual has pictures of the 4 different types: https://www.dell.com/downloads/global/p ... hspecs.pdf The size of case will affect what you can upgrade.

I would probably recommend getting a new graphics card, but Windows XP is going to cause you problems. That operating system is no longer supported by Microsoft, so you don't get security patches any more. Modern cards like the Geforce 1030 don't have drivers for it. Google Chrome is no longer supported on Windows XP. Firefox is dropping support for Windows XP in June. It's really not a suitable operating system for anything you want connected to the internet any more.
 
demolition
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Re: Need help to do a parts-list to upgrade my PC

Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:59 am

I forgot that you were also running XP and forgot to check whether Nvidia actually made XP drivers but it seems like you're in luck:
https://www.geforce.com/drivers/results/105040

Despite this, I would probably also consider upgrading to W7 or even W10. If you have a standard 32-bit XP, you will also not be able to utilize more than ~3GB of that 8GB memory you have installed, so that RAM upgrade is completely wasted so far. You need a 64-bit OS to use the remaining memory. You could do XP x64 (I used this for a couple of years), but it is poorly supported with drivers etc., so it will likely cause more trouble than a 64 bit W7/W10.
 
Chrispy_
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Re: Need help to do a parts-list to upgrade my PC

Tue Feb 13, 2018 6:13 am

The low resolution will be an issue with the drivers, most likely. Although the integrated graphics (GMA 3100) are terrible by modern standards, they should still be capable of rendering video at a half-decent resolution - 720p HD should work smoothly via software-decoding on the Core2 alone.

In device manager check that the display adapter is listed as Intel GMA 3100 and not a standard VGA adapter. In the offchance that your Optiplex has a dedicated ATi graphics card installed, ensure that it is also shown in the device manager and that you are plugging the HP display into the graphics card's ports, not the motherboard's ports.

If you're happy that all the graphics drivers are installed, yet streaming video still sucks, do an internet speed test (speedof.me or speedtest.net) and check that your networking and internet bandwidth are adequate. You probably want 8mb/s for smooth 1080p video from most sites, and that's on the assumption that nobody else is using the internet at the same time.
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just brew it!
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Re: Need help to do a parts-list to upgrade my PC

Tue Feb 13, 2018 6:15 am

Uitlander wrote:
Some months ago I bought a used Dell Optiplex 755 (Intel Core 2 Duo CPU - E8400@3.00GHz, 2.98 GB RAM - PAE) with HP L1706 monitor for around $125. Its running XP Pro, ...

The Optiplex 755 was a pretty nice system for its range... a decade ago. How many months ago did you buy this PC? Unless it was some years ago you overpaid.

As already noted, a lot of modern software isn't going to be supported on XP. You'll probably be running an old browser out of necessity, and XP hasn't received security patches in nearly 4 years. Connecting it to the internet is going to be risky.

A GPU upgrade might help (I'm surprised Nvidia still has XP drivers), but you may still be hamstrung by the 10 year old CPU and/or obsolete web browser when attempting to play modern streaming video formats.

If it is buffering, the system has other issues as well since slow CPU/GPU does not cause buffering. Either there's a problem with the network interface or internet connection, or there's still lingering malware (you said you had to get it cleaned out once already) which is interfering with the network data stream.

You can try demolition's GT 710 suggestion if you want, but be aware that this may still not completely fix your video streaming issues. I'd be pretty strongly dis-inclined to put ANY more money into this system at this point. Even if you get it working semi-decently, you'll probably be taking it back to the shop again for another malware cleanout before long.

My advice is put the money you'd be spending on trying to fix this box towards the new build instead. At least you can re-use the DVD burner and mobile rack; the DDR2 RAM you just bought will go to waste unfortunately, as it's 2 generations obsolete now and no current CPUs or motherboards will be compatible with it.
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RickyTick
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Re: Need help to do a parts-list to upgrade my PC

Tue Feb 13, 2018 8:29 am

Uitlander wrote:
Took it to computer shop to have it cleaned of any malware, added in new 8GB RAM,


I'd like to think that a decent shop would NOT install 8gb of ram into a system running a 32-bit operating system.
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Re: Need help to do a parts-list to upgrade my PC

Tue Feb 13, 2018 8:36 am

RickyTick wrote:
Uitlander wrote:
Took it to computer shop to have it cleaned of any malware, added in new 8GB RAM,

I'd like to think that a decent shop would NOT install 8gb of ram into a system running a 32-bit operating system.

Oh... I missed that! Yeah that's an issue too. Not only did the OP buy a 10 year old PC with an EOL OS on it; half of that RAM (which is DDR2 and therefore useless for any future build) isn't even being used.
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JustAnEngineer
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Re: Need help to do a parts-list to upgrade my PC

Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:16 am

just brew it! wrote:
I'd be pretty strongly dis-inclined to put ANY more money into this system at this point. My advice is put the money you'd be spending on trying to fix this box towards the new build instead.
I'm going to have to agree with the consensus that this ancient system is beyond the point where it makes sense to spend more money on it. Unfortunately, your Core 2 Duo, DDR2 and Windows XP crossed that threshold about four years ago. You can try some of the configuration and speed checks that Chrispy_ suggested, but if it comes down to spending money, you should be saving up for a new system.

You can buy a fully-assembled and tested PC with a warranty for a low price at the Dell Outlet that will be less expensive than what you can assemble yourself from new components.
Dell Outlet wrote:
Scratched-and-dented Inspiron 3668 Desktop
Intel Core i3-7100 Kaby Lake 2-core/4-thread processor (3.9 GHz, 3MB cache, 51W)
Integrated Intel HD Graphics 630
8 GiB DDR4-2400MHz (1x8GB)
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======
$329 + tax with free shipping


Building your own PC would be significantly more expensive, though you could customize your parts list to suit you.
$99 CPU: AMD - Ryzen 3 2200G 4-core/4-thread 3.5 GHz processor with Vega 8 graphics
$85 -20MIR Motherboard: MSI - B350 Tomahawk ATX AM4 motherboard
$94 Memory: G.Skill - 2x4 GiB Ripjaws V Series DDR4-3000 memory
$70 Storage: SanDisk - ¼ TB SSD Plus 240GB 2½" Solid State Drive
$0 existing Optical Drive: DVD/CD Writer ($15 @ Amazon)
$37 Case: Deepcool - Tesseract BF ATX mid-tower case
$22 Power Supply: EVGA - BT 450W 80+ bronze ATX power supply
$93 Operating System: Microsoft - Windows 10 Home OEM 64-bit
==========
$500 -20MIR
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The Egg
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Re: Need help to do a parts-list to upgrade my PC

Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:22 am

just brew it! wrote:
RickyTick wrote:
Uitlander wrote:
Took it to computer shop to have it cleaned of any malware, added in new 8GB RAM,

I'd like to think that a decent shop would NOT install 8gb of ram into a system running a 32-bit operating system.

Oh... I missed that! Yeah that's an issue too. Not only did the OP buy a 10 year old PC with an EOL OS on it; half of that RAM (which is DDR2 and therefore useless for any future build) isn't even being used.

I grabbed a couple C2D refurbs for work over at Microcenter about 4-5 years ago (think I paid roughly the same price), and was surprised to find they were DDR3. In any case, if he, as a customer, was insisting upon 8GB and insisting upon running XP, I don't blame the shop for doing it, so long as he was warned beforehand.

As a bit of a sidenote, I've installed W10 on a couple old family member's C2D rigs (4GB, small SSDs), and both ran nicely, if not better than Win7. Not that the OP would do something like that.
 
DPete27
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Re: Need help to do a parts-list to upgrade my PC

Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:42 am

I agree with JAE, that Inspiron 3668 is 4x the computer in the OP, and can be useful for at least another 4 years. It also doesn't need any add-ons to do what you're asking, even then you could slap a new PSU in there and a decent GPU and have yourself a nice cheap gaming PC if needed.

TBH, I don't even accept free C2D systems anymore, really anything pre-Sandy Bridge isn't worth the time. I know it sucks that you already invested the money in the C2D system (and hopefully didn't actually upgrade it to 8GB RAM since WinXP can only recognize 3GB), but it's not worth sinking more money into a PC that's already past its useful life. Buying even a cheap dGPU right now is going to be a sunk cost, since modern CPU integrated graphics are about as good as a $70 GPU (GPU prices are sky-high right now also). If not, the GT730 is probably the best bang for your buck, scour Ebay. here's a decent GPU heirarchy chart with many generations to help.

In regards to resolution, the HP L1706 is a 17" TFT monitor with a 1280x1024 resolution, which is a respectable 96ppi, but with how junky those old TFT monitors were, your complaints in regards to image quality could mostly be contributed to the monitor. Have you tried hooking the PC up to your TV to double check?
Last edited by DPete27 on Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:05 am, edited 3 times in total.
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K-L-Waster
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Re: Need help to do a parts-list to upgrade my PC

Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:56 am

The other option if you are only looking to watch TV and streaming video would be something like a Chromecast or a Roku. Much cheaper than any upgrade to a system this old.
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ludi
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Re: Need help to do a parts-list to upgrade my PC

Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:07 pm

I still have an Optiplex 780 kicking around as a workbench PC. Mine is using a Q9450 (2.66GHz Core2Quad) but I recently go rid of an E8400 system and that one was tolerable, too. Main difference is the 780 had the Intel GMA4500 graphics while yours has the GMA3100. Assuming your Internet connection is performing well (already addressed above), at least half of your problem is Windows XP -- as already stated above it is not a secure way to connect to the Internet and there aren't many good drivers left for it, either.

But, your 755 will perform acceptably with 8GB of RAM if you install a 64-bit version of Windows 10 on it. Add a cheap used SSD from eBay (it's a risk, but the Intel units are durable enough and cheap) to use as your OS drive, and it will be plenty quick as an office/light-duty entertainment machine until you get your main build going.

You can do this for under $100 using a Win10 Pro x64 system-builder pack and an Intel 320-series SSD:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/BRAND-NEW-MICR ... SwBRVaYiI-

https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odkw=I ... D&_sacat=0

If you really want to keep throwing money into it after that, a GeForce 1030. Unfortunately you've already spent a lot more money than the machine is worth, but if you're not looking to play A-list games it should last a while yet.
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Chrispy_
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Re: Need help to do a parts-list to upgrade my PC

Tue Feb 13, 2018 12:46 pm

If the old system is getting replaced for the sake of a newer OS, I find that the NUC6CAYH is a pretty great web/video player with performance in the same ballpark as the old Core2. It's a functional system that includes a Windows 10 license for under $230, but for another $70 you can stick a 240GB SSD in it.
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