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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

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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