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Thread: Dude, I'm modding the heck out of my Dell until it's no longer recognizable as such.




  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
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    Default Dude, I'm modding the heck out of my Dell until it's no longer recognizable as such.

    Here's a summary of my question:
    Which should I buy first: a CPU fan, or a mobo/PSU combination? In other words, which is more important: keeping my CPU below 55° C or being able to plug the mobo into the front panel USB, power switch?

    Here are the details:
    I am tweaking the heck out of my Dell Dimension 2350 Intel P4 1.8 GHz 845GL system. My father got it for me two years ago because it was really cheap, and he thought it would be a good place to start and I could upgrade later. The thought was, at least it's an ATX with a P4, and my old Wintel system wasn't upgradeable to a P4 at all. Unfortunately, when I got it and opened it up, I found I couldn't add another HDD because there's no place for it! I was not aware of Dell's lockbox/proprietary policies before I got it. Needless to say, this is really annoying!

    So, I've been putting a lot of effort lately into upgrading, modding, and doing all I can to negate the warranty! But I have a predicament right now, and that is, I've put myself in a place where I cannot just stop where I am. But I'm overbudget on my upgrades for this month, but I've ended up with a PC in a sort of a "transitional phase" and I need to know: what's the most important step to take next, if I can only do one thing?

    My first step was to replace the graphics card and disable onboard graphics (and I have confirmed that the onboard graphics are not using any resources, so this is good!)

    Then I put my MicroATX 845GL into an Antec Super Lanboy case. And here are my issues:

    1. Unfortunately, the spacers that are used to attach black plastic heatsink frame do not correspond with holes in the chassis. Should I get a new mobo, or should I get smaller nuts to replace the spacers with, or should I try to get ahold of the little clear rubber dealios like they use for fan mounting in the Lanboy and use those to attach the black heatsink mount (would it even be able to handle the weight)?

    2. The wires for the front panel USB, audio, power, reset, etc. buttons do not correspond to the sockets on the Dell mobo. This is annoying. But I removed the Dell USB panel and power switch and incorporated those into the new setup for the time being. The power switch is sitting on the shelf where the Lanboy's toolbox is supposed to be, and the USB is inside on the bottom of my case. (I plugged my printer into it and have it hanging out the toolbox shelf for the time being... kinda cool, actually, because the cable has red LEDs on it... But obviously it's not the best option!) Are there any wire harness adapters available that would enable standard case front panel wire setups to plug into the Dell mobo?

    3. I plugged a 3.5" Enermax (those guys don't speak good english!) thermal monitor into the system and have one of the sensors attached to the CPU heatsink. When I'm idle, it's pretty cool, but if I'm doing something that puts the CPU workload at 100% (like running Seti@Home), it's around the 55-65° C mark (right now it's hovering around 65, so I think I'm going to shut down Seti@Home for a while). Intel's website says the "thermal spec" for the CPU is 77°. So am I okay? Some people think even 55° is way too hot, and I can confirm that in the Dell Dimension case it never ran this hot, because I placed the green fan shroud over the heatsink (temporarily, since there's no way to mount it), and it instantly dropped 15°. Another fan woe I have is that I have to press F1 every time I boot up the system because it says "Alert! CPU fan not detected" (there are no options in the BIOS for turning this off). You see, the "CPU fan" in the Dell was actually a rear case exhaust fan, but it's plugged into a 3-pin socket in front of the CPU, and its shroud focuses the airflow around the CPU heatsink and thereby prevents it from cooling the rest of the case. The case fans on the Lanboy are 4-pin, so I can't plug them into the 3-pin socket on the mobo in front of the CPU.

    So, should my priority right now be the CPU fan, or a mobo that actually plugs into the front panel wires? http://Endpcnoise.com has a Dell PSU adapter that goes from a new PSU into a Dell mobo. Unfortunately, they don't have one that goes the other way. Which means, if I replace the mobo, I have to replace the PSU as well. I don't mind having to press F1 every time I boot up, and I don't mind the funky power switch/USB setup I've got going on for the time being. The most important think to me is making sure I don't fry my CPU. But if I'm well below the thermal spec, than am I okay?

    Dude, I'm NOT getting a Dell, ever again!

    Thanks,

    Aaron

    P.S. Would pictures help?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Dude, I'm modding the heck out of my Dell until it's no longer recognizable as such.

    I would get all three together at the same time and save up the money for it. Running an ad-hoc computer like that generally is not a good idea because there are many more uncertainties that could go wrong and break something. The green shroud over the heatsink IS part of the heatsink. It directs the fan to cool the heatsink. Without it, the heatsink becomes passive and 77C is difinitely skirting on the edges of danger. (60 C is a general threshold between okay and in severe danger). If I were you I would put everything back in the Dell until I had enough money to replace the PSU, motherboard, new CPU cooler, and operating system. Dell is extremely proprietary and it seems like they intend for their hardware to break down if it is not used in a Dell.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Dude, I'm modding the heck out of my Dell until it's no longer recognizable as su

    Of course 77 is skirting with danger! It's the thermal spec for the chip! I'm only at 65, though. I'd be more likely to buy a new CPU fan than to put everything back in the new box though. I wish people would just be straight with me. I'm even willing to crimp wires if I have to.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Dude, I'm modding the heck out of my Dell until it's no longer recognizable as such.

    Here are my reasons for thinking the PSU might not be proprietary after all. At http://www.endpcnoise.com/cgi-bin/e/dellconverter.html there is a power adapter to connect an ATX PSU to a Dell mobo, but my mobo doesn't have this additional 6-pin aux connector that you see in the picture.

    And if you look at the specs for replacement psu's (http://www.affordablesurplus.com/del...wer-supply.asp under BESTEC at the bottom of the page) you'll see that it's got 1 20-pin ATX, 4 molex, 2 floppy (mine's actually just 1), and a little 12V wire. Seems pretty standard to me.

    Furthermore, if you go to http://www.mancompro.com/store/custo...me.php?cat=127, you'll see there are two Dell psu's for sale. The 250 one is specified as PROPRIETARY. But if you look at the 300W one that's listed as compatible with Dell 2350's, it doesn't specify that it's proprietary. Just says that it's "suitable".

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Dude, I'm modding the heck out of my Dell until it's no longer recognizable as such.

    As for issue #1 in the original message, I've ordered a new heatsink retention bracket complete with plastic pushpins from TekGems to deal with that problem.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Dude, I'm modding the heck out of my Dell until it's no longer recognizable as such.

    Okay you asked for opinions, I gave you my opinion. You do not need to be condescending. If you do not want opinions, then do not post. Its your money, your computer, do whatever you want with them.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Dude, I'm modding the heck out of my Dell until it's no longer recognizable as su

    It just seems to me that this forum is supposed to be all about tweaking. There's a certain pioneer spirit to un-Delling your Dell and giving a big "screw-you" to the corporations who are trying to lock you down with their proprietary practices. If a box only costs $500 bux in the first place, what's the harm in taking risks and going nuts with electrical tape? (Which I did, by the way, and was able to jerry-rig the power switch and LEDs. Took about 10 minutes and it was a lot of fun!) Wouldn't it be better to tell someone to get a new CPU fan ASAP (like a real Zalman one), rather than saying, "put everything back where you found it and go sit in the corner"?

    In short, we in this forum should be slower to say, "don't do that" or "I wouldn't if I were you," and quicker to say, "Yeah, that's a good idea, as long as you're cooling properly," or, "Keep digging and see what you can find out about that PSU," or "plug it in and see what happens," and "post back with your results so other people can learn from you!"

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Dude, I'm modding the heck out of my Dell until it's no longer recognizable as such.

    hey how do u get the build in graphic card to disable ?

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Dude, I'm modding the heck out of my Dell until it's no longer recognizable as su

    I would not rely on that thermal sensor, it is not even close to what the real cpu temp is. Unfortunately there is no sensors built into dells. This is so millions of customers do not freak when they realize how hot their cpu is running compared to the rest of the computers in the world. That would also be why dell uses intel only, so that the cpu will throttle when required to keep it from crashing, further covering up the poor cooling.
    There is not much you can do with what you have now to get any more performance anyway besides adding ram and a decent gfx card so there is no point. Basically changing things that would make it faster are not cost effective for the little amount of gain. Examples: a new mobo would not do much on it's own due to the pc2100 ram that came in those dells and would also need a new cpu cooler and psu. A slightly faster ide hd would do nothing noticeable on it's own and require a new os.
    What I would do is either make a whole new machine and sell the dell, or use the cpu with a new mobo, ram, psu, cpu cooler, 1 or 2 sata hd's and new os until a new cpu can be afforded, then sell the dell.

    edit... I wish nobody would dig up year old threads.
    Last edited by maximus7001; 01-01-2006 at 07:00 AM.
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