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The Long, Long Run


raymac46
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raymac46

Frankly I find it unbelievable that you can have a 14 year old PC that can run a modern O/S and still be useful and snappy. The stars have to align , but it's possible - just consider my Dell Inspiron 530. A lot of things came together, and those are the things you need to look for if you want to get an old machine to make new again.

  • It's a desktop. A 14 year old laptop would have a lousy display and little chance of upgrading.
  • It's a wide mid-tower. Lots of room to work in and add parts.
  • Unlike a lot of Dells, it has a standard ATX motherboard. You can replace an old power supply with something more substantial and beefy.
  • There's room to add a graphics card as it has PCI-e capability. Intel graphics from 2008 are pretty bad.
  • It has lots of USB ports for wifi and wireless peripherals.
  • It will boot from a USB thumbdrive. That is key to being able to install a modern distro.
  • The BIOS can be updated to support up to 8GB of RAM.
  • It supports DDR2 RAM which you can get cheap and it's fast enough for most purposes.
  • It has a flexible and long serving LGA775 CPU socket which will support the fastest dual core chips Intel made in the 'Naughties.
  • It has SATA 1 which is pretty slow but at least you can put in a cheap SSD.
  • It was one of the first Dells made offshore but it has a pretty good Foxconn motherboard that was built to last.

So in summary I would say that this Dell is one of the first of the new generation desktops that made many earlier machines obsolete. Obviously things got better since then but many of the features in the Dell Inspiron from 2008 are still around today. I'm lucky to have it.

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Guest Mauser

If it has a good ATX case it is a great computer to do incremental upgrades on it. Just be careful on which parts you use because I have been experiencing high failure rates on hardware brands that were once know for their high quality. For example: ASUS motherboard that started failing after about 10 months causing hard freezes which after 13 months it wouldn't boot up anymore because it failed. Ofcourse one month out of warranty. MSI motherboard failed after 2 months,and Corsair  memory stick failed after 14 and the other stick failed after 17 months. I use a Gigabyte motherboard now and so far so good as it's 2 years old now. I use G.SKILL memory now without issues for 10 months so far.

Edited by Mauser
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raymac46

This old machine is not worth much more upgrading. It has no USB3 capability in the case, although it does have an excellent all purpose card reader. It isn't that easy to work on, as there is no room for proper cable management. I could salvage the power supply (Cooler Master 500 watt Gold) and the SSD but everything else is outdated. That said, many of the upgrade videos on YouTube have featured this particular Dell Inspiron 530.

I have had good luck with Gigabyte mobos and Crucial Ballistix memory.

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V.T. Eric Layton

Heh! I've never had a new/bleeding edge system. All the systems I've owned (7 of them since 2000 - not counting laptops) were either hand-me-downs or Frankenputers (built from parts scrapped from other systems). The ONLY system I ever bought was ericsbane03, which was a "bare bones" (case, mobo, psu) system that I bought at a computer fair, and it was far from bleeding edge even though it was brand new. Probably why I got such a good price on it, too. ;)

 

I ran Win 98SE on the first two of those systems. Don't tell anyone, but 98SE was my fav Windows. I really liked that OS. On the third system, I was running XP, which was also the mitigating factor for the installation of GNU/Linux on that machine (2006). I've also had a bunch of old Dell laptops that are just little beasts... great machines. They were never my primary system, though. That's always been a tower.

 

 

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raymac46

I've always thought that the most fun in Linux is to recycle old machines that would otherwise be sent to the scrap heap. Today you have to be careful about what you select for refurbishing - more than ever. Old desktops can be suitable if you have a 64 bit CPU and some SATA capability, You can always add the max memory and a cheap SSD. I'd also want some sort of discrete graphics card.

Older business laptops like Dell Latitude and Lenovo Thinkpad are great candidates for refurbing and always have been. Cheap laptops and Netbooks not so much. They are either brain dead 64 bit or useless 32 bit machines, hard to disassemble and often limited in how much memory you can add. I have a Toshiba netbook here that I put Arch Linux on as proof of principle but it really isn't much use for a daily driver. I also have a T430 that is wonderful, and a cheap Lenovo that is only about 7 years old but has given me all sorts of headaches.

My favorite Windows has to have been Windows 7, but honestly Windows 11 is fine if you have the horsepower.

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Guest Mauser

@raymac46 , I agree with you on one of the good things about Linux. Old desktops can be always refurbished if it has a good case. You can always change the motherboard, add external USB ports in one of the external drive bays if it has any which are usually used for ROM drives and so on.

 

As for laptop computers you are very limited and those limitations are specific to the brand. The price of the laptop is irulevent because I had a very expensive HP laptop that the HDD failed and there was no way to replace it. That HP laptop became a brick. I like Acer laptops because they are engineered to be worked on. Replacing a drive is easy and so on. Dell makes good laptops to work on also. There are other good engineered laptop brands as well, but I would never buy another HP laptop because they are throwaways.

 

I agree with you on Windows 7 as it was my favorite version of Windows too and was the last good Windows version. As for Windows 11 it's fine if you like Spyware and Malware. It was when Microsoft came out with Windows 10 that made me switch to Linux. Reading the E.U.L.A. the Windows 10 has is very disturbing.

 

I wish software developers would create a spelling checker that actually works properly.

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  • 4 months later...
goretsky

Hello,

Assuming the chipset and BIOS (UEFI?) firmware support it, it might be possible to put a quad core chip into the LGA 775 socket.  The point @raymac46 brought up about lack of USB 3.0 support is another issue; but assuming there is a free PCIe expansion card slot, that might be another upgrade option.

Regards,

Aryeh Goretsky
 

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raymac46

Sadly this particular machine will not support Core 2 Quad CPUs but a high end Core 2 Duo was a nice upgrade over the original Pentium Dual Core chip. USB3 would be a nice to have but I can live with USB2. Putting in a USB3 card seems a bit like overkill on this old beast.

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raymac46
Posted (edited)

The hardest part of the Inspiron 530 upgrade was updating the BIOS to support 8 GB of RAM. I was running Linux and the desktop doesn't have a floppy drive, so the usual DOS procedure was not possible. I ended up booting Hiren's Boot Disk and using the Mini XP option. That gave me a sorta Windows XP environment where I could run the BIOS upgrade .EXE file from a USB drive.

Edited by raymac46
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V.T. Eric Layton

I have an external USB 3.5" floppy drive, USB Zip100 drive, and a USB CD/DVD reader. They're cheap. They work well. They're very handy to have. You never know when you might need one of them. :)

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goretsky

Hello,


Like @V.T. Eric Layton, I have found it useful to maintain those old external removable drive systems.  During the COVID-19 lockdown, I even got a 5.25" floppy diskette drive and USB adapter in order to archive many of my old 5.25" floppy diskettes.

Some of my newest systems have the ability to go into the UEFI (BIOS) firmware to download and apply updates directly from the internet.  That's a feature I disable, but I do keep USB flash drives around for the purpose of applying firmware updates.

Regards,

Aryeh Goretsky
 

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V.T. Eric Layton

Well, happy to say that I do NOT have any 5.25 floppies to archive. ;)

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