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raymac46

Breaking the 10-Year Window

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raymac46

My rule of thumb for many years was that it wasn't worth restoring any PC that was 10 years old or more. Nowadays with the slower development of PC hardware and software, you *might* be able to extend that a bit - up to 12 or at the maximum limit 14 years. But you need to make careful choices.

  • Go with a desktop. Unless you have a Thinkpad or pro grade HP/Dell, a 10 year old laptop will likely be a basket case. Many of them were 32 bit brain-dead netbooks, or low quality AMD machines. Then there's the problem of poor cooling which kills many laptops.
  • Intel is probably the way to go. By 2010 Intel had a solid lead over AMD and never has given it up (untill maybe 2020.)
  • You'll likely need to update the BIOS to get the maximum memory which will be 8 GB DDR2 in all likelihood.
  • Count on significant upgrading - max out memory, change the processor. You can get a high end Core 2 Duo for next to nothing and it's worth replacing an old Pentium dual core. Some motherboards even let you install a Core 2 Quad - worth it if you can.
  • As for gaming - fuhgeddaboudit. Some of these old processors won't even launch a modern game, and a newish graphics card will be hopelessly bottlenecked.
  • If you can get a super cheap SSD go for it. You'll be on a SATA2 bus but it's better than nothing.
  • Linux is the O/S of choice as a lightweight distro won't eat up a lot of RAM and it'll leave you more for browsing.
  • A creaky old discrete graphics card might free up some RAM but otherwise I'd stick with Intel graphics. You'll need a cruddy old VGA monitor anyway.
  • Don't expect miracles.
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securitybreach

Um, I think that you may be talking about machines much older than 10 years. Most of the intel machines from 2010 came with the Core series of CPUs (i3, i5, i7, etc.) and they were all 64bit. The AMD/Intel thing was true up until a few years ago when AMD released the Ryzen and Threadripper series. They have well surpassed Intel's offering and even offer 64 core processors (intel does too but only in Xeons).

 

A machine from 2010 should definitely use DDR3 ram as DDR4 has been around for 10 years already.

 

Besides those things, I completely agree.

 

 

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raymac46

Indeed I am talking about older machines than 10 years. The one I'm looking at restoring is probably 2007. The only actual machine I have from 2010 is a Toshiba NB305 and that has DDR2 800 memory. Granted it's a netbook. Most machines I have from 2013 or so have DDR3 RAM.

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goretsky

Hello,

One thing to consider is looking at older Intel Xeon CPU server builds.  They can take lots and lots of DDR3 memory, which should be very cheap these days. They will not necessarily be very power efficient, though, compared to today's desktops.

 

Regards,

 

Aryeh Goretsky

 

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raymac46

This is the sort of thing you can get in Ottawa these days:

https://www.tte.ca/collections/desktop-computers/products/lenovo-thinkcentre-m93p-tower-10a6-512165-3

 

This is a much better idea for general use than a 13 year old Dell Inspiron 530.

 

Actually there are only a few reasons to fix up a very old PC:

  1. You may have a simple but specific use for it like playing music in a workroom.
  2. It may have belonged to a friend or relative and you fix it for sentimental reasons.
  3. It's fun and you can learn computer repair in a low risk situation.
  4. Parts are cheap.
  5. It can be a handy testbed for lighter versions of Linux.

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raymac46

I got the old Dell tower and monitor back yesterday. The tower is indeed from 2007. So far all I've done is remove a broken and obsolete PCI based G wifi card. I'll replace that with a USB N dongle when needed.

My next job will be to wipe out the HDD and remove it. I'll give it back to my neighbor as proof all sensitive info has been removed from the PC. Then I'll get on with cleaning and upgrading. We'll see how that goes in the weeks to come. No hurry.

 

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securitybreach

Nice. Are you going to throw in an SSD?

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raymac46

Yes that is the idea. But I need to upgrade the BIOS, add more memory, upgrade CPU from Pentium Dual Core to Core 2 Duo, clean it up, reinstall Linux as well. It's a nice case though. :w00tx100:

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securitybreach

Cool :thumbsup:

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raymac46

I'm wiping the hard drive now. I still need to figure out a way to flash upgrade the BIOS. I tried using a simple FreeDOS method but I ran into insufficient memory errors. This must be a DOS thing since I curently have 2 GB in the machine.

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raymac46
Posted (edited)

Drive wiped. To upgrade the bios I copied the .exe file to a USB drive and then booted Hiren's Boot Disk on the DVD-ROM. Hiren's has a mini-XP option so after that was running I just ran the file from within Windows. Worked perfectly and now I have the latest BIOS version from 2009.  

Edited by raymac46

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raymac46

Final planned specs for this old Dell desktop:

Core 2 Duo E8400

8 GB DDR2 800 RAM

USB wifi

240 GB AData SSD

Nvidia GT520 video card

It'll have DVI output which should match the 22 inch monitor my son-in-law has. I plan to give the system to the grandkids for school use this fall during the COVID pandemic. It should be OK for that.

 

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raymac46

Completed all the tasks I can for now. I await the memory modules which have been shipped from China.

Removed the 160GB HDD and replaced it with a 240 GB SSD. Replaced Pentium Dual Core E2160 with Core 2 Duo E8400. Cleaned and renewed thermal paste. Installed Linux Mint 20.

Really could use more memory, but so far the difference is dramatic. It's almost a usable machine now - sort of like changing a low end consumer rig for a higher end commercial model. As long as you don't want to play the latest video games, it's fine for daily use.

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raymac46

Turns out this Dell consumer desktop was a pretty good one to break the 10 year barrier.

  • Well designed and built case with ATX power supply - easy to work on.
  • Solid Foxconn motherboard with LGA 775 slot - can easily upgrade to a faster C2D cpu.
  • BIOS upgrade permits 8GB of DDR2 RAM - enough for general use.
  • PCI slot allows cheap discrete video card - saves on memory and gives DVI capability.
  • Lots of USB 2.0 ports so wifi is no problem.
  • SATA2 isn't real fast but it does make adding an SSD worth your while.
  • Linux runs well on these old Vista/Windows 7 machines.

I would say that with the upgrades it is 2 to 3X faster than the original configuration.

Edited by raymac46
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securitybreach

Very cool :thumbsup: 

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raymac46

A few more comments on the 10-year window:

  • It certainly applies to machines you cannot or don't want to upgrade - cheap laptops, low end desktops with limited upgrade path.
  • 32 bit or single core processors are probably not worth it unless you can put in a 64 bit dual core CPU.
  • An SSD and a higher end dual core CPU can work wonders - probably more than a lot of RAM (assuming you have at least 2GB of RAM.) That said, it doesn't cost that much to max out the RAM and you should do it.
  • Don't bother with SSD upgrades if you don't have SATA2 capability.
  • Get the latest BIOS installed.
  • Use Linux. That goes without saying.
  • Watch your costs. It isn't worth putting a 1 TB SSD in the thing.
  • Replace the CMOS battery with a new one.
  • You must install some sort of discrete video card if you want to connect a newish monitor. That'll likely require DVI or HDMI.
  • USB wifi will work well and you may not have anything newer than a PCI slot on the mobo for an internal wifi. That usually means a G level wifi (not the best.)
  • Don't expect to multitask, run virtual anything or play popular video games. You'll be able to stream video and music though.

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raymac46

8 GB of memory arrived today and was installed. This completes the upgrade of this old Dell, and a very nice machine it is now.

kids@kids-Inspiron-530:~$ inxi -Fxz
System:
  Kernel: 5.4.0-42-generic x86_64 bits: 64 compiler: gcc v: 9.3.0 
  Desktop: Cinnamon 4.6.6 Distro: Linux Mint 20 Ulyana 
  base: Ubuntu 20.04 focal 
Machine:
  Type: Desktop System: Dell product: Inspiron 530 v: N/A serial: <filter> 
  Mobo: Dell model: 0RY007 serial: <filter> BIOS: Dell v: 1.0.18 
  date: 02/24/2009 
CPU:
  Topology: Dual Core model: Intel Core2 Duo E8400 bits: 64 type: MCP 
  arch: Penryn rev: A L2 cache: 6144 KiB 
  flags: lm nx pae sse sse2 sse3 sse4_1 ssse3 vmx bogomips: 11970 
  Speed: 2148 MHz min/max: 1998/2997 MHz Core speeds (MHz): 1: 2000 2: 1995 
Graphics:
  Device-1: NVIDIA GF119 [GeForce GT 520] vendor: eVga.com. driver: nouveau 
  v: kernel bus ID: 01:00.0 
  Display: x11 server: X.Org 1.20.8 driver: modesetting unloaded: fbdev,vesa 
  resolution: 1280x1024~60Hz 
  OpenGL: renderer: NVD9 v: 4.3 Mesa 20.0.8 direct render: Yes 
Audio:
  Device-1: Intel 82801I HD Audio vendor: Dell Inspiron 530 
  driver: snd_hda_intel v: kernel bus ID: 00:1b.0 
  Device-2: NVIDIA GF119 HDMI Audio vendor: eVga.com. driver: snd_hda_intel 
  v: kernel bus ID: 01:00.1 
  Sound Server: ALSA v: k5.4.0-42-generic 
Network:
  Device-1: Intel 82562V-2 10/100 Network vendor: Dell Inspiron 530 
  driver: e1000e v: 3.2.6-k port: ff00 bus ID: 00:19.0 
  IF: enp0s25 state: down mac: <filter> 
  Device-2: ASUSTek USB-N10 802.11n Network Adapter [Realtek RTL8188SU] 
  type: USB driver: r8712u bus ID: 1-3:2 
  IF: wlx60a44cdbd255 state: up mac: <filter> 
Drives:
  Local Storage: total: 223.57 GiB used: 16.75 GiB (7.5%) 
  ID-1: /dev/sda vendor: A-Data model: SU635 size: 223.57 GiB 
RAID:
  Hardware-1: Intel SATA Controller [RAID mode] driver: ahci v: 3.0 
  bus ID: 00:1f.2 
Partition:
  ID-1: / size: 218.57 GiB used: 16.75 GiB (7.7%) fs: ext4 dev: /dev/sda5 
Sensors:
  System Temperatures: cpu: 40.0 C mobo: N/A gpu: nouveau temp: 35 C 
  Fan Speeds (RPM): N/A 
Info:
  Processes: 182 Uptime: 2m Memory: 7.77 GiB used: 706.1 MiB (8.9%) 
  Init: systemd runlevel: 5 Compilers: gcc: 9.3.0 Shell: bash v: 5.0.17 
  inxi: 3.0.38 
kids@kids-Inspiron-530:~$ 

 

 

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securitybreach

Pretty cool. Who would ever of thought that a Core2Duo would ever have 8gb of ram. Amazing :thumbsup:

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b2cm

Consider a C2Q processor. For example, here's an ad on Kijiji Toronto area.

https://www.kijiji.ca/v-computer-components/city-of-toronto/intel-lga775-socket-cpu-q9400-q8200-e5300-e2160/1461711562

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raymac46

The motherboard and PSU would have to be upgraded for that. I have a pretty fast C2D in there now.

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raymac46

I guess it is possible to put in a C2Q on the Inspiron 530 I have, if you can get one of the "S" series processors. The standard C2Q will not work though.

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