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mark_alfred 01-02-2011 01:58 PM

Looking to upgrade
 
Hello. I entered the command "lshw | more" and got the following:
Code:

lshw | more

debian.example.com       
    description: Desktop Computer
    product: OptiPlex GX1 450Mbr+
    vendor: Dell Computer Corporation
    serial: 1SA5C
    width: 32 bits
    capabilities: smbios-2.2 dmi-2.2

  *-core
      description: Motherboard
      product: OptiPlex GX1 450Mbr+
      vendor: Dell Computer Corporation
      physical id: 0
    *-firmware
          description: BIOS
          vendor: Dell Computer Corporation
          physical id: 0
          version: A10 (08/01/01)
          size: 64KiB
          capacity: 192KiB

    *-cpu
          description: CPU
          product: Pentium III (Katmai)
          vendor: Intel Corp.
          physical id: 400
          bus info: cpu@0
          version: 6.7.2
          slot: Microprocessor
          size: 450MHz
          capacity: 800MHz
          width: 32 bits
          clock: 100MHz
    *-memory
          description: System Memory
          physical id: 1000
          slot: System board or motherboard
          size: 384MiB
          capacity: 768MiB
        *-bank:0
            description: DIMM DRAM Synchronous
            physical id: 0
            slot: DIMM_A
            size: 128MiB
            width: 64 bits
        *-bank:1
            description: DIMM DRAM Synchronous
            physical id: 1
            slot: DIMM_B
            size: 128MiB
            width: 64 bits
        *-bank:2
            description: DIMM DRAM Synchronous
            physical id: 2
            slot: DIMM_C
            size: 128MiB
            width: 64 bits

Under cpu and memory and firmware, it indicates that upgrades are possible. For memory, it states "size: 384MiB; capacity: 768MiB". However, I previously had tried a 256 MB memory stick in one of the three slots (which all currently have 128 MB) and it did not work. Is there something else I need? Or perhaps I was using the wrong type of stick? I assumed that I was at full capacity, but apparently not given the results of the above command. I also wonder how I would go about upgrading the firmware (BIOS -- size: 64KiB; capacity: 192KiB) and the cpu (size: 450MHz; capacity: 800MHz). Is it worthwhile to upgrade these things? I figure it might be, given that sometimes thing operate a bit slowly on this computer.

Drakeo 01-02-2011 02:04 PM

slackware13.1 running xfce4 will be very nice for you.

mark_alfred 01-02-2011 02:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Drakeo (Post 4210612)
slackware13.1 running xfce4 will be very nice for you.

I use Debian with Fluxbox, and it works well. I'm just looking for pointers on upgrading the hardware.

lazlow 01-02-2011 03:07 PM

It may be that the motherboard will only use single sided ram (Asus's P3FB was this way). Most of the 256 modules were double sided(chips on both sides of the module). You MAY be able to find the memory dirt cheap on ebay or at your local computer shop. If you have to buy it new they will probably want $30 a stick. I would not put a lot of money into such a low powered machine. You can pick up a dual core atom motherboard with 1 GB of ram for $150 and put it into you existing case(a GB stick of DDR2 800 is only running $17 at newegg). That would give you more computing power with probably 1/4 the electricity used.

mark_alfred 01-02-2011 07:50 PM

A new motherboard might be a good idea. Anyway, I went out and bought a used Pentium III 850 MHz processor ('twas all he had) and a used 256 MB stick of memory, each for $10. The processor did not work. Initially the machine started with "Optiplex 800+ MHz" statement (rather than the "Optiplex 450+ MHz" statement that it normally gives), but then it balked at the new processor, stating that the machine does not support it. It then halted. So I put back in the older processor.

However, the good news is that the memory does work. So, I'll get two more of those memory sticks, and look around for an 800 MHz processor that I can try. I may later try a new motherboard. I'm still not sure how, or if, I can upgrade the "firmware" -- or even if this is a worthwhile thing to think about.

Drakeo 01-03-2011 01:45 PM

that is simple go to the manufacture website and see what they did with that mother board and see what bios updates did so you can use faster CPU. Big reason why I stay with nforce controller chips. and AMD

mark_alfred 01-04-2011 04:06 PM

Thanks for the suggestion, Drakeo. I checked the Dell site, and found that I already have the latest BIOS (A10). However, in reading about this particular computer (Dell Optiplex GX1), apparently many have had luck in upgrading to a faster processor by, ironically, downgrading the BIOS to A07, since BIOS A08 and later included the change "Halt system if unsupported CPU installed." So, I'll try installing this BIOS, and see if I can then upgrade the cpu.

[later] Okay, I successfully downgraded the BIOS to A07. This was not an easy task. Dell provides Windows executable files to create an MSDOS bootup disk for installing A10, and simply provides the actual BIOS executable files for previous ones. So, I had to use WINE to run the program, but WINE did not recognize my floppy drive. However, I did find some files in the WINE temp directory, and an MS-DOS batch file had been created that I could use to create the disk with dosemu (DOS emulator), which does recognize the floppy drive. Then I had to substitute the Gx1_a10.exe file with the Gx1_a07.exe file, and rename this one to Gx1_a10.exe. Finally, I succeeded. However, the other day I returned the 850 MHz cpu thinking it was useless to me. So, I'll pick it up again tomorrow and see if it works with this older, and hopefully less picky, BIOS. If so, it'll mean that I was able to double both the speed and memory for $30 (granted, some may say that two times nothing is still nothing, but still, the prospect of doubling speed and memory for little money seems good to me).

mark_alfred 01-05-2011 08:38 PM

Success! I picked up the used cpu and installed it under the downgraded BIOS, and it works. My crawler has now learnt to walk! The speed increase was noticeable in the boot up time -- normally I would turn on the computer, go brew some coffee, read the paper, come back, wait a little more, and then log in. Now I wasn't even able to finish brewing the coffee, never mind reading the paper. Wow!

Observe the new lshw:
Code:

debian.example.com       
    description: Desktop Computer
    product: OptiPlex GX1 800Mbr+
    vendor: Dell Computer Corporation
    serial: 1SA5C
    width: 32 bits
    capabilities: smbios-2.2 dmi-2.2
    configuration: administrator_password=enabled chassis=desktop frontpanel_password=enabled power-on_password=enabled uuid=44454C4C-0082-1031-8053-80C04F413543
  *-core
      description: Motherboard
      physical id: 0
    *-firmware
          description: BIOS
          vendor: Dell Computer Corporation
          physical id: 0
          version: A07 (08/04/99)
          size: 64KiB
          capacity: 192KiB
  *-cpu
          description: CPU
          product: Pentium III (Coppermine)
          vendor: Intel Corp.
          physical id: 400
          bus info: cpu@0
          version: 6.8.6
          slot: Microprocessor
          size: 800MHz
          capacity: 800MHz
          width: 32 bits
          clock: 100MHz
 *-memory
          description: System Memory
          physical id: 1000
          slot: System board or motherboard
          size: 768MiB
          capacity: 768MiB

The only thing left to do is find a better video card that is pci (something that is proving to be rather difficult, unfortunately). I have a Mach64 card, which has something like 6 MB of RAM, which is quite low (and useless on my machine, since Debian blocks direct rendering from this card). Otherwise, though, things are solved.

lazlow 01-05-2011 08:58 PM

Nothing cheap but:


mark_alfred 01-05-2011 09:45 PM

Those are a bit too high-falutin for me. I'm likely going to check out something more along these lines.

mark_alfred 01-06-2011 03:51 PM

Hmm. In looking at the listing that I gave above I notice that all the video cards (aka gpu) are pcie, rather than pci, which kinda screws me. Time to start a new thread.


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