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Upgrading my XPS 420.

Hello everyone, I'm new to the Dell community but I have been tinkering with hardware and software for years.

The problem I'm having is upgrading my XPS 420, my current spec is:

 

Intel® X38 Express Chipset (Dell BTX)

Dell 375W PSU

Windows Vista 32bit SP1

4GB PC2-5300 DDR2 Ram (cheap and nasty, plus Vista 32bit SP1 does show and use the full 4GB of Ram)

2 x 500GB Samsung HDD's (with firmware fix)

Nvidia 8800 GT 512MB

2 x DVD-R/RW Drives.

19 in 1 Media card reader with Bluetooth + XPS front mini viewer.

 

All around you would think its a good package, I did. But now the time has come to upgrade I really don't want to buy a new PC as times are hard, which means deals are hard to come by. Plus I like my XPS 420.

And as there are many myths about Dell's in general, I felt it would be best to ask you guys about upgrading my XPS 420, I would like to change the OS, PSU, Ram and Video card.

 

The OS I want to upgrade to is Vista 64bit (I understand I can get the disc for free from Dell, please let me know how to go about this?).

The PSU I want is a Corsair HX620W Black or TX650W Black.

The Ram I want is 2 x Corsair TWIN2X 6400C4DHX DDR2, 4096MB (4 x 2GB = 8GB Total).

The video card I want is a Geforce 9800 GTX+ 1GB with all the bells and whistles.

 

Could someone please tell me if the above stuff is compatible with my chip set, and the parts I want to buy too?.

Many thanks all.

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14 Replies
Davet50
6 Indium

Re: Upgrading my XPS 420.

Hello and welcome to the Dell forums

lets break down your wishes.

The power suppy is not propritary and any standard ATX supply with a 24 or 20+4 main connector will work.

The system will run X64 now the catch IF you live in the US, AND your system is still under warranty you should be able to get the disk by contacting Dell Support. you need both of  those requirements to get the free disk. Otherwise if you need to purchase on I would just recommend getting an OEM version as they are generally cheaper.

Ram your pushing the limits of the motherboard with those sticks. The 420 board is very finicky about the voltage levels for the ram sticks especially when populating all four slots. I think the 4gigs would work not sure about the 8 though. I would suggest you also look at Crucial ram as it is 100% guaranteed to work with dells systems.

Since you are planning to up the supply the Gforce card should run well and Im sure you specd the supply to be able to properly power the card.


I see no mention of your porcessor you might want to look into that as it could become the main bottleneck of the system with these upgrades.

 Home Built Sandy Bridge P8P67 i7 2600k @ 4.5 GHz 8gigs GSkill Ripjaws. Corsair 800D Case and AX1200 Ps X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty pro PCIe Sound Card
Dell Studio XPS 1645  Window 10 Pro

Forum member since 2003

Not applicable

Re: Upgrading my XPS 420.

 

Hi there, yes my processor is the same as yours, an Inter core 2 quad Q6600 which I'm still happy with.

And I too feel the same about the Ram, this chip set I have is not the greatest when it come to power management, the voltage of the new Ram chips I want to use is 2.1V per 2GB chip. Which is only 0.3V more then the one's I have now, so 4 x 0.3V = an extra 1.2V on the total load.

But I understand that its possible to change the voltage rating via the Bios to counter act this issue, if thats true?. If it is can you or someone please tell me how to go about this?, if not is 1.2V to much extra for the chip set to handle?.

Also I currently live in the rep of Ireland, so maby a free X64 disc off Dell is not possible?.

Thanks.

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Hanspuppa
3 Cadmium

Re: Upgrading my XPS 420.

But I understand that its possible to change the voltage rating via the Bios to counter act this issue, if thats true?. If it is can you or someone please tell me how to go about this?, if not is 1.2V to much extra for the chip set to handle?.

Hello TheStigOnline, The XPS 420 does not have ANY memory setting adjustments at all. The memory will be recogonized as SPD, which means it will default the voltage to 1.8v. and memory that will not operate at this low voltage likely will not work. This is critical.

I would suggest, as many here, that you go to Crucial, Kingston, Coraisr, OCZ, or others, and run their memory configurator and tell you what model of their memory will work in your XPS 420.

I personally use Kingston, and got 4x2 GB modules and a free 2 GB USB memory stick with no sales tax and free shipping for $92.00 US.

The memory that Kingston configurator suggested would have cost $118.00, but I searched around and found others that use the same model as I ordered.

I removed the original, and installed the new 4x2 GB modules and booted the system, without any issue at all.

Since the Dell XPS 420 BIOS is produced by Dell, it has many features disabled, that other versions have activated.

I also installed Vista x64, and a WD VelociRaptor 300 GB hard drive and I am very happy with these upgrades.

Just some thoughts.

 

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Re: Upgrading my XPS 420.

 

Thanks for that, Corsair state that the TWIN2X4096-6400C5DHX set would work with my XPS 420 but not the TWIN2X4096-6400C4DHX set, as the C5 kit is low voltage and desinged for OEM chip sets, but the C4 kit is for "self built PC's" with little to no voltage restriction.

Also as I'm not sure I could get a 64bit disc off Dell for free, I may stick with 32bit Vista and 4GB of Ram for now to keep the costs down,            and the next PC I get I will build my self, then go the whole nine yards Smiley Happy

Now the PSU may or may not be an issue?, as I read that Dell changed the pin config on the chip set so it will only work with Dell PSU's, now Davet50 (many thanks) said that I could use any ATX PSU with a 24 or 20+4 main connector, which I believe to be correct, if its not could     someone please confirm this, or is it just another Dell myth?.

And thanks to Hanspuppa for reminding me that I need another HDD, I'm thinking 1TB internal if my chip set will accept another hard drive?,         as I have two already, can someone let me know if thats possible or will I haft to change something else?.

Thank you all.

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Hanspuppa
3 Cadmium

Re: Upgrading my XPS 420.

Thanks to Hanspuppa for reminding me that I need another HDD, I'm thinking 1TB internal if my chip set will accept another hard drive, as I have two already, can someone let me know if thats possible or will I have to change something else?.

Hello TheStigOnline, Your XPS 420 will accept a third hard drive in the case.

One of the hard drives will need to be installed in the flexbay area. That is the space where a floppy drive would, or could be, installed.

The 1 TB drive will show as approximately 936 GBs, because of the partition, formating and the way Windows reads the disk.

It is very easy to install with the shoulder screws provided in the case. You just will need to remove the front bezel that covers the CD\DVD drives, but that is very simple to do.

I have my third hard drive installed there, and the temperatures for the drive are not high.

You will need another SATA cable but the power supply has enough power cables for this drive.

You would need to enter the BIOS and enable the port that the drive is connected to.

Hope this helps.

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Re: Upgrading my XPS 420.

It does mate thank you. Now about where to put the new HDD thats not a problem I have some bits from an old XPS case with a double HDD rig that should fit in to the bottom of my case.

But the in's and out's about changing the power supply unit are still a bit iffy. Could somebody please confirm if Dell have reconfigured the PSU pin's on the chip set or not?, I'm really hopeing its not true and Davet50 is right about the PSU's I can use.

Again many thanks everyone.

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Hanspuppa
3 Cadmium

Re: Upgrading my XPS 420.

Now about where to put the new HDD thats not a problem I have some bits from an old XPS case with a double HDD rig that should fit in to the bottom of my case.

Hello TheStigOnline, You cannot install the third hard drive anywhere except the flexbay area.

If you have a floppy drive in the flexbay area, you would need to remove it to install another hard drive.

There is not enough room for a hard drive and a floppy in this area.

The bottom of the case is simply too close to the motherboard and there is no room for it.

You would have to request information about the power supply from Davet50, since I know nothing about these sort of things.

Hope this helps.

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Davet50
6 Indium

Re: Upgrading my XPS 420.

HERE is a good supply for your system.

 Home Built Sandy Bridge P8P67 i7 2600k @ 4.5 GHz 8gigs GSkill Ripjaws. Corsair 800D Case and AX1200 Ps X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty pro PCIe Sound Card
Dell Studio XPS 1645  Window 10 Pro

Forum member since 2003

Not applicable

Re: Upgrading my XPS 420.

Thanks again Davet50, I've looked in to it and many other XPS users have had no issue at all using a standard ATX PSU so you were right in the first place.

Here is some useful info I found: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BTX_(form_factor)

Compatibility with ATX products

The BTX form factor motherboards are incompatible with the ATX form factor cases and vice-versa. The areas where incompatibility doesn't apply is in power supplies, parallel hardware, processors, RAM, hard drives, and ROM devices.

Now I've taken a look at my PSU pin's and chip set power port, the currant Dell 375W PSU head uses 23 out of 24 pin's, but the chip set it self uses 24 out of 24 pin's which I think should be okay as that is the current standard ATX configuration.

Once I've put it all together I'll let you know how I get on. Big thanks to you and everyone else who has helped me with this.

May peace be with you all Smiley Happy

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