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Old 02-20-2020, 05:58 AM   #1
Retrorockit
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Default Overclockable Dell computers.

Many Dell computers can be upgraded beyond what they were offered with and even overclocked in many cases. This may make repairing one of these more viable than it would seem. I've been playing with the BTX versions so much of what I say will be referring to those.
Of the BTX Optiplexes, most of them have a 95W CPU hard limit. Typically a Q9650 is the maximum, For single thread Apps, an E7500 2 core can be tape modded to 3.66GHz.
The exceptions are the Opti 745 which due to PentiumD suppport can support a QX6800 and can be overclocked using Throttlestop 6.0 software.
The Optiplex 380 can run an X5470 Xeon with a BIOS mod for 3.3Ghz. It can also run 2x4GB DDR3 1066 RAM.
Other Dells that can run the 65nm QX6800 and overclock are the-
Dimension E520,9200,9200C XPS410,210 These have 4 phase VRM and can get to 4GHz at times.
Some other XPS and workstations can run the unlocked 130W QX9650. 4.15GHz is common.
XPS420, XPS430, Precision T3400 (dual GPU )XPS630
The Precision T3500 can run some of the unlocked Xeons and overclock them. W3570,W3580 4 core Nehalem, and W3680,W3690 6 core can be Throttlestop overclocked, and 3 channel RAM makes performance worthwhile.
Due to larger memory modules becoming available over time almost all of these computers can run 2x the RAM they were originally offered with.
Userbenchmark.com is a good place to look at a system and see what CPUs and RAM capacity others have been able to use.
I don't have much to offer in the way of board level repairs. I hope this isn't too OT for this forum.
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Old 02-25-2020, 09:17 PM   #2
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Default Re: Overclockable Dell computers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Retrorockit View Post
I don't have much to offer in the way of board level repairs. I hope this isn't too OT for this forum.
Not at all. In fact, I learned about a new piece of software from your post today! - Throttlestop. Will definitely give it a try, as I still have many computers from that era stick kicking around. So thank you very much for sharing this information!
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Old 02-27-2020, 08:41 AM   #3
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Default Re: Overclockable Dell computers.

I personally don't really find overclocking on older machines worthwhile (well, even on newer in most cases) and it's a bit unfortunate to have to rely on a Windows software but for fun why not.

But still Throttlestop can be useful in some very specific cases. For example had a 945GCT-NM board (from a PowerMate VL260) that originally came with a Pentium D IIRC. MCH, voltage regulator and BIOS actually support Core 2 Duo, but it's limited to 800MHz FSB. So without doing FSB mod and so lowering CPU core freq, you have to stick to 800MHz FSB CPU, which are either the early Core 2 Duo, or the Pentium Dual-Core. The latests Pentium Dual-Core perform much better than the early Core 2 Duo, and for some reason this board can actually boot 45nm CPU. The Pentium Dual-Core E5800 is a very good choice here.
But, there is a catch. BIOS is buggy or 45nm CPU support not implemented properly, dunno. Everything reports properly "on paper" (BIOS info, Windows system info and task manager…), but it's very sluggish. Then you check with Throttlestop and you realise it's stuck at x6 multiplier instead of x16. So 1.2GHz instead of 3.2GHz. Only solution I found is to use ThrottleStop to force the multiplier at boot to x16 (SpeedStep has to be enabled, otherwise multiplier is really stuck at x6 and ThrottleStop cannot change it). Had to tweak some stuff to get ThrottleStop to automatically apply settings transparently using SYSTEM account after boot or resume from hibernation.

Downside is that it only works on this specific OS installation after the tweaks. If you boot any other OS
(a Linux live for example) you'll be stuck at 1.2GHz as well…
It's still a substantial improvement over any 65nm CPU.

Similar situation happens on some HP machine, I think it was the dc7700, where due to some BIOS bug the frequency of E7xxx CPU is halved whereas E6xxx work properly. (btw they could work with Core 2 Quad if the BIOS didn't disallow it as well)


The BIOS situation is really a nightmare with those older machines unfortunately. It'd be wonderful to have an open BIOS with every CPU initialization code and working on all boards just so you can upgrade them. coreboot is not quite there yet… Lots of Pentium 4/Pentium D boards could support better Pentium D 9xx/Core 2 CPU , sometimes after a few hardware tweaks if they had proper BIOS support.
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Old 02-29-2020, 05:24 AM   #4
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Default Re: Overclockable Dell computers.

Yes BTX is very old stuff. When the memory controller moved to the CPU it lost it's purpose, and never was accepted by the aftermarket anyway. But bad caps were common on them. While overclocking old computers may or may not be useful, it may tip the csales a little in deciding whether to save a MB or not.
I have a tutorial on this at Tomshardware and just updated it with some OC benchmark scores, and a video of doing a software fsb overclock.
https://forums.tomshardware.com/faq/...uters.2528664/
I agree that the Pentium D computers are fun. Many later office computers had a 95W CPU limit that keeps the Extreme series CPUs out. Pentium D machines needed 130W so if they can run Core2 Extremes the VRM and also clock speed are built in.
Here's the leader board at CPUZ for QX6800.
http://valid.x86.fr/top-cpu/496e7465...322e393347487a
0WG864 is a Dell Dimension E520. If you look at the dates you can see it was in 2nd place there in 2015 when I did that. 3rd place for almost 2 years.
For actual performance the T3400 workstation is better withQX9650 and dual GPU support. I've picked up T3400 MB for $14 each.

Last edited by Retrorockit; 02-29-2020 at 05:29 AM..
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Old 03-01-2020, 02:10 AM   #5
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Default Re: Overclockable Dell computers.

i still have like 5 of the xps 410 with 3.4 pd cpus, they are tanks.
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Old 03-01-2020, 11:00 AM   #6
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Default Re: Overclockable Dell computers.

They can run the QX6800 SLACP and overclock nicely. It's the same MB as the Dimensin E 520 above except a Mid tower layout with room for full size GPUs.
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Old 03-10-2020, 05:49 PM   #7
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Default Re: Overclockable Dell computers.

Hmm.. I wonder if this ThrottleStop will work with the bigger Dell Precision workstation PCs, like T3500.

Reason I wonder is because I just bought a T7500 for cheap with 2x (I think... we will see) Xeon quad core CPUs. Planning to upgrade to 2x hex-cores and maybe overclock them a little if this software allows it. But I dunno... this is socket 1366 stuff, so I think the mem controller is in the CPU and hence ThrottleStop won't work(?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Retrorockit View Post
For actual performance the T3400 workstation is better withQX9650 and dual GPU support. I've picked up T3400 MB for $14 each.
Nice!
It's mind-boggling how much the price has gone down on these old workstations. They can still be 100% useful, though.
This is one reason why I just can't see myself going to the store and buying all new hardware for my next built - there are just so many cheap older parts with tons of life left in them.

Quote:
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i still have like 5 of the xps 410 with 3.4 pd cpus, they are tanks.
Many of those old Dell BTX systems are. Well, badcaps aside in some of them (both in PSU and on motherboard), they are very reliable. I still see offices around here with these machines handling various duties. In fact, the company I contract for still has a fleet of these running (mostly Dell Optiplex 755 and similar with Core 2 Duo's.) On some of them, you can see a wall of dust on the front intake.
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Old 03-10-2020, 07:49 PM   #8
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Default Re: Overclockable Dell computers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by momaka View Post
On some of them, you can see a wall of dust on the front intake.
well better clear up the dust if u want those machines to continue running!! lol!
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Old 03-10-2020, 08:04 PM   #9
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Default Re: Overclockable Dell computers.

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Originally Posted by ChaosLegionnaire View Post
well better clear up the dust if u want those machines to continue running!! lol!
Would love to - you know I enjoy cleaning and restoring old reliable PCs.
But these I can't really touch, as we do contract work for that company, and I'm not exactly their IT guy... though once in a while, they do ask us to move some of their workstations around.
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Old 03-11-2020, 09:09 AM   #10
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Default Re: Overclockable Dell computers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by momaka View Post
Hmm.. I wonder if this ThrottleStop will work with the bigger Dell Precision workstation PCs, like T3500.

It's mind-boggling how much the price has gone down on these old workstations. They can still be 100% useful, though.
This is one reason why I just can't see myself going to the store and buying all new hardware for my next built - there are just so many cheap older parts with tons of life left in them.
The T3500 is a favorite at the TPU Throttlestop Overclocking thread.
https://www.techpowerup.com/forums/t...op-pcs.235975/
But the dual CPU machines don't support the unlocked single CPU Xeons this requires. HP workstations are fair game also.
Intel XTU is the software overclocking tool of choice for newer than LGA1366 systems.
The Opti 755 with an E7500 2 core can be tape modded to 3.67GHz and with an SSD will come alive. Turn off Auto Defrag. and put in a 4 core heatsink D9729. Intel sold 2 core LGA771 Xeons a 3.5GHz so it's not that big a stretch.
The Zotac GTX1050 2GB Mini drops right in with no PSU swap needed. This does assume the Tower size and not the smaller cases.

Last edited by Retrorockit; 03-11-2020 at 09:20 AM..
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Old 03-11-2020, 09:28 AM   #11
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Default Re: Overclockable Dell computers.

BTX was designed to support 130W PentiumD and up to 3.8GHz Pentium4 CPUs.
VRM cooling and high clock speeds are in their DNA. Most of them ended up in <95W CPU office machines. But if you can cut them loose they're lots of fun.
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Old 03-12-2020, 09:27 AM   #12
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Default Re: Overclockable Dell computers.

The BTX I'm running right now is a $20 Optiplex 380 MT. This was a low end 2 core 4GB system. But they forgot to give it a 95W CPU limit, and the G41 chipset supports the LGA771 mod. So here it is with an X5470 3.33GHz, 2x4GB DDR3 1066, and MSI GTX1060-3Gb.
https://www.userbenchmark.com/System...iPlex-380/1942
It took a modded BIOs to do it. maybe the modded BIOS supports a QX9650? If so then some overclocking might happen. It didn't work when I first tried it.
It can run the Superposition benchmark at 60fps on 1080P medium setting.
https://benchmark.unigine.com/result...5f5fe38c56c90d
Some of my runs have a slight SetFSB overclock and some don't, so the CPU score varies a little. All the Opti 380/X5470 runs are mine at userbenchmark.

Here's a Dell T3400 QX9650 @ 4.15GHz. The XPS 420 can do this also.
https://www.userbenchmark.com/UserRun/14900919

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Old 03-19-2020, 07:37 PM   #13
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Default Re: Overclockable Dell computers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Retrorockit View Post
The T3500 is a favorite at the TPU Throttlestop Overclocking thread.
https://www.techpowerup.com/forums/t...op-pcs.235975/
But the dual CPU machines don't support the unlocked single CPU Xeons this requires.
Yup, can confirm this now.
Got a T7500 workstation with dual E5605 CPUs and was hoping I could OC them, as they seem they can go up quite abit... but NO. Throttlestop simply could not do anything to move the frequency of the CPU even a notch. I could use it to down-clock the CPU, though.

Ah well. According to CPU-Z built-in benchmark, my two E5605 CPUs were only about 15% slower in multi-CPU score compared to an i7-2600k (in single-core benchmark, the E5605 is much much slower than the i7-2600k, though.) Kinda sad, but still not too bad. I guess I can expect more or less the same performance as an i5-2500? Things should change quite a bit, though, if I do indeed swap those E5605 CPUs with higher-frequency hex-core ones.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Retrorockit View Post
Intel XTU is the software overclocking tool of choice for newer than LGA1366 systems.
Hmm... I wanted to try that one too, but simply couldn't get it to install. Said it required NetFramework 4.6.2 or newer... which I downloaded but couldn't install due to some other error (installer did not specifically say what.)

Last edited by momaka; 03-19-2020 at 07:39 PM..
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Old 03-22-2020, 06:54 AM   #14
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Default Re: Overclockable Dell computers.

There has been some success with T7500 using SetFSB.
https://www.overclock.net/forum/5-in...ion-t7500.html
A separate PCIe SATA/SAS/Raid controller to move off of the MB SATA bus which gets corrupted by SetFSB..
The X5687 4C/8T can run dual CPU and has a turbo speed of 3.86Ghz that might be unlocked for all cores with TS. Plus SetFSB should get you something. The limitation of SetFSB is no way to raise Voltage which TS can only do on unlocked single QPI CPUs.
XTU was created by Intel at a later time than TS and only goes forward from that point. Intel had no commercial interest in supporting their older procs.
T3600 T3610 and the equivalent HP machines should work with XTU. HWBOT is tied in with XTU and shares setup nifo. there.

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Old 03-23-2020, 08:43 AM   #15
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Default Re: Overclockable Dell computers.

You could play around with TS and SetFSB on your existing CPUs and see how it goes for you.
SetFSB has a virus warning on one of it's pages. I unplug my hardrives and boot a linux live DVD to go there and get what I need. The virus warning might be fake. The developer no longer supports it. There w as a free version and a pay version. The older free version still works I think.
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