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Need Help Updating a Ten-Year Old PC (Dell Optiplex 745)


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So my dad got two old Dell computers and he's giving me one for free. I've been looking for a PC to replace my terrible Acer Aspire V5 laptop for quite some time, and price has been one of the reasons why I pretty much gave up on getting a new computer. I know this isn't going to be the best computer ever, but since I plan to use it for video (YouTube, Plex and Media Player Classic) and browsing primarily, I think this is a great option.

I'm willing to spend a few bucks on RAM, an SSD, a better processor and a graphics card, so I was wondering if anyone knows what's the best way to upgrade this computer in particular (what's supported, what's overkill or a waste of money and so on.) I already have a 240GB SSD with Windows 10 so I guess those are two things where I can save a few bucks. I'm pretty much new to upgrading computers, but this is something I've always wanted to do.

Regarding all the other parts, I did some research to see how much money I need and this is what I found. RAM: it supports up to 8GB max. Processor: it supports Core 2 Quad 2 Q6600, again, not terribly expensive. Graphics Card: there are several options and I have no idea which offers the best bang for your buck. I think this PC supports the GeForce 210 1GB and although it's probably the most expensive part of the whole set up, maybe it'll be worth getting a good card. I remember reading that some people installed a 2GB graphics card in there, so maybe that's a better upgrade? Again, I have no idea about this component in particular.

Some other random questions I have: should I get a wireless card in case I ever decide to move the computer far from my router? Should I go with a 23-inch monitor or 32- inch TV? Just curious since the price for those where I live is pretty much the same. I know monitors have better refresh rates, but maybe a big TV would be better for watching sports, video game tournaments, movies, series and even actual TV.

So here are the specs in case anyone's interested https://www.dell.com/downloads/global/products/optix/en/opti_745techspecs.pdf

Thanks in advance!

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A Dell Optiplex 745 is only worth about $75. I wouldn't spend too much on upgrading the memory as it can't be used in a newer computer.

 

Upgrading to 4-8 GB if you want to run Windows 10 is a good idea. An SSD isn't really needed on such an old machine.

 

Note the Dell Optiplex 745 is available in 4 sizes. The Minitower can accept a full-size graphics card up to 75W, while the Desktop and Small Form Factor can only accept a low profile graphics card. The Ultra Small Form Factor cannot accept a graphics card.

 

A new graphics card won't make any difference in viewing video's or web browsing.

 

If you want to do any gaming, I would start with a newer used computer such as Dell Optiplex 790 with a i5-2400 Quad Core, 8 GB and 500 GB Hard Drive for $170 and add a graphics card.

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With 16GB RAM going for $73 there's really no reason to go with anything less as less would result in a slower tedious experience.

 

IMHO I'd get an off-lease i5 or similar - because upgrading for speed is usually not a cost-effective endeavor. Though upgrading for functionality is.

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A Dell Optiplex 745 is only worth about $75. I wouldn't spend too much on upgrading the memory as it can't be used in a newer computer.

 

Upgrading to 4-8 GB if you want to run Windows 10 is a good idea. An SSD isn't really needed on such an old machine.

 

Note the Dell Optiplex 745 is available in 4 sizes. The Minitower can accept a full-size graphics card up to 75W, while the Desktop and Small Form Factor can only accept a low profile graphics card. The Ultra Small Form Factor cannot accept a graphics card.

 

A new graphics card won't make any difference in viewing video's or web browsing.

 

If you want to do any gaming, I would start with a newer used computer such as Dell Optiplex 790 with a i5-2400 Quad Core, 8 GB and 500 GB Hard Drive for $170 and add a graphics card.

 

I already have a 240GB SSD on my laptop, so I'd probably exchange it with the HDD on the Dell PC. I have the minitower, so I need a 75W graphics card, but what I don't know is if it supports any card or a specific one, since this is the first time I'm upgrading a PC.

 

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I'd add 4GB to make it 6GB and leave it at that. Try the integrated graphics, it's probably fine for your needs. The computer should take graphics adapters with 2GB and probably more.

Thanks for the advice, I'll probably try with 6GB of RAM, but adding 6GB for a total of 8GB shouldn't make that much of a difference in terms of price. I'll definitely try the integrated graphics, but I wanted a graphics card is so that I can take advantage of the HDMI port and use a big ass TV instead of a smaller monitor. HDMI carries both audio and video signals, so that's more comfortable for my setup I believe. Also, I assumed a newer graphics card supports up to 1080p and I also assumed that old integrated chipsets don't. Is that the case or my assumption is incorrect? I'd really like 1080p, because my current TV, laptop, phone and even tablet, all go up to 720p and I'd love it if my new computer (well, old computer that I'm upgrading) would support 1080p for movie watching and video.

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we use similar computers at work for test stations, they do 1080 fine all day long, if your instant you can get a gefore 710 for under 30 bucks

 

I did something similar to my garage computer, its a old dual core (AMD but whatever) that had a thousand year old geforce intergrated graphics and it would bog down doing like full screen comcast streams or cad work so I slapped a el cheapo card in it... but that machine is like a 2006 maybe 2007 cheap as possible board ... with the intel graphics of a c2duo you should not have an issue with it

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I'm assuming it has 2x1GB, it could have 4x512MB; 1x2GB is possible but unlikely. You'd likely have to buy 8GB ram to upgrade to 8GB and remove what's currently installed. Specs say it does 1920x1200.

It's 4x512MB. So I should install 2GB per slot ignoring the ones that are there? It's great to know it supports 1080p right out of the box.

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Integrated graphics are generally on the motherboard. Discrete graphics are on an add-in card. There are some all-in-one systems on a chip that have everything in the CPU (SOC or APU are other names for this).

 

Adding my voice to the others saying it's not worth upgrading something this old unless you find the parts very cheaply or you have significantly more time than money. Your CPU has similar specs to an older Atom-powered netbook or tablet.

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Intel Core 2 Duo, 2GB of RAM, integrated graphics

 

What is the exact model number of integrated graphics as some of the older integrated graphics are not supported and won't even work with the recent Windows 10 releases except as a generic vga.

 

For example Intel HD Graphics 3000 (released Jan 2011) is not supported and the Windows 7 drivers will not work with recent Windows 10. If your PC is 10 years old it's very unlikely the integrated Intel Graphics will not work other than generic vga (640x480 with only 16 colors).

Edited by thetick1
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What is the exact model number of integrated graphics as some of the older integrated graphics are not supported and won't even work with the recent Windows 10 releases except as a generic vga.

 

For example Intel HD Graphics 3000 (released Jan 2011) is not supported and the Windows 7 drivers will not work with recent Windows 10. If your PC is 10 years old it's very unlikely the integrated Intel Graphics will not work other than generic vga (640x480 with only 16 colors).

 

just for the record a detailed datsheet is provided by the op in the first post and it is in fact a

 

Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator 3000

 

so windows 8 was the last supported OS for that ... good catch

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also for point of reference spend as little as possible on this, just this january I scored the following for our new home office

 

HP 3rd Gen i3 running 3.3 ghz, 4GB DDR3 1600 ram no hard drive no os 50 bucks ebay

added 4 gb DDR 1600 ram 10 bucks

 

Added a old 256 gig hard drive I had kicking around, installed windows 8 OEM since that is what the computer came with and upgraded to windows 10 using install creation tool from MS

 

boom there's a 60$ 3.3 3rd gen i3 fully supported out of the box with windows 10, slap something like a radieon RX570 in there and your sub 200$ playing PS4 level games

 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/HP-Compaq-Pro-4300-SFF-Core-i3-3220-3-3ghz-2gb-Ram-No-Hard-Drive-DVD-RW/233179366574?hash=item364a92c4ae:g:woMAAOSw7xxcmjMQ

 

not same seller but just an example

Edited by Osgeld
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I would put a Q6600 cpu in it if it will take it. Also, going to 8gb is a a good idea for Windows 10 (or 8.1), even though it is the slower DDR2 in that machine. The memory is probably the first thing I would upgrade.

The video card is really a matter of how much you want to spend and what games you want to try and run. Any Geforce card from 600 or 700 range will be fine for retro gaming and even PC games from a couple years ago.

The latest eye candy games are beyond that hardware. Graphics cards in the $100 and up range would start to get bottle necked by the DDR2 sdram.

 

It might manage some light 720P gaming on low to medium detail settings, depending upon title. For internet, music, web, youtube, etc, that system is good for a few years yet.

It's perfectly fine for general use with cpu and memory upgraded and only sees a challenge if you want to run modern games. Your current cpu might be good enough as well, but Q6600s are under $10 these days, so why not?

 

A couple of shopping tips:

 

Sometimes you can find a deal directly from evga.com on wednesdays:

 

https://www.evga.com/midweekmadness/

 

When shopping for memory, use the search feature on crucial.com to find your exact memory.

Then buy from there, or take the info and try ebay or craigslist if you are so inclined.

 

my two cents

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  • 3 months later...

This is probably too late but :

First thing is to check your chipset. Use CPUID to look at your m/b details.

The desktop 945s ran the Q965 Express Intel chipsets on a BTX motherboard config; you can run :

Memory : up to 8GB in a 4 X 2GB chip array setup. It can handle 533 to 667 to 800mhz memory chips but the 800mhz will automatically throttle down to 667. Chances are that 667 memory is all you really need.

Operating system : At 8GBs, you can use a full 64bit OS. If you have Win7Pro on it already, this is the way to go. You can go to Win10Pro for free and the machine will run Win10Pro no problem; mind you, it will run it for basic desktop tasks like office apps and browsing and even browser based games. But even with all the hardware updates, it will not be a great gaming PC. That ship sailed like 8 years ago. But it will be a fine office desktop lump.

CPU : it's actually possible to run an Intel Q6700 quad processor in this (I have 1 with this config with 4GB memory at 533mhz, not preferred but it's free!). The Q6600 is probably slightly cheaper and slightly slower. You can use the stock cooler and heatsink but make sure you have a really good thin layer of ArcticSilver or such under it and don't let dust clog up the interior.

H/D : since SSDs are super cheap, you can run a cheap 120-240gb SSD in this no problem. The motherboard won't be able to take advantage of the latest SSD SATA standards but that's ok, it'll be the biggest performance gain.

Video : A low-profile video card is limited in availability for this. You'll just have to troll the interwebs for a decent loprofile card that can fit the PCI Express x16 slot available. Plus the length will be an issue; at about 8 in, you start running into capacitors and whatnot. It's got length up to 10.5 inches but not at all much width so a double-wide will not fit at all. So be careful there. Wouldn't spend too much here as bang for buck is very low compared to modern gear.

Caveats : ☯️ You MUST upgrade the BIOS to the latest version (2.6.6) in order to be able to make the CPU upgrade (and memory options as well).

As a BTX motherboard, it is pretty much a dead end. There are some options for upgrading to one level higher of Dell BTX motherboard but it requires also a startup controller board swap as well.

A dvd read/writer is pretty cheap.

Power even with a Q6700 is not problem.

Generally speaking, this platform isn't the greatest for updating unless :

1) you'd like a spare old box for older titles or to have a something for running annoying tasks while you're gaming on something better.

2) you'd like to get some experience swapping in various gear.

3) you'd like to get some experience in fiddling with Win10 (or other OSs)

In this respect, it's a fine machine for messing around with although I'd prefer something with an ATX chassis which is much easier to swap stuff with.

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