The Backstory : My workplace is currently undergoing an office move and, a week ago, the IT department announced that they had a few unwanted computers that wouldn't be making the trip. The managers decided to offload them on to any interested staff, in exchange for a charity donation of £10. I snapped one up.
The System :
- Dell Optiplex 330 DT
- XP Pro, SP3
- Phoenix ROM BIOS PLUS V1.10 A08
- Core2 Duo, E4500 @ 2.20GHz
- 1GB RAM
- Radeon X1300, 128MB
- 160GB HDD
- CD Drive
- PSU Max Wattage: 280W
If there's other information that I can provide, please ask. I'm not 100% sure what's relevant and what's not so I'm kinda just info-dumping here. I can take measurements no problem. If you're after any technical info found using the computer itself please assume that I won't know how to find it, ie. layman's terms and instructions all the way.
Possibly useful links: Dell User's Guide & Dell Technical Guidebook (ignore the Mini Tower entry in both).
The Goal : Okay. As an overall ceiling on my (wishful?) requirements for the computer after doing the... upgradey stuff, I'll say that I want it to be able to play The Witcher: EEDC at smooth, enjoyable, mid-to-high performance at a resolution of 1680x1050. Anything else that I'll be using the computer for will sit lower than that ceiling. My budget for the parts is minimal. Around £100 or so.
The Question : Am I running a fool's errand?
Let me clarify that. From my research into the murky world of PC constructioneering, I've come to the realisation that this 'Desktop' model of the Optiplex 330 is a downright funny shape. It's sort of skinny I guess you'd say. Have a couple of images:
'Desktop' model = smaller one
A pretty close approximation of the inside. Note the PSU; click here for the User Guide's isometric.
One thing I've constantly run up against looking for parts and answers is the interconnectedness of PC upgrading. I obviously need to upgarde my videocard if I'm to meet my goal, but the current PSU only has a max allowance of 280W, which I've learned is far below required. So to upgrade the videocard I'll also need to replace the power supply. I also intend to upgrade the RAM from 1GB to 4GB. I think I can leave the CPU and the motherboard alone. Please correct me if it's apparent that I'm wrong there. Whether or not I would need another fan inside... well, I'm sincerely hoping not. My budget doesn't seem to cover that, nor do I suspect there's even sufficient room.
Problems then. That PSU is apparently proprietary in design. The wedge cut out appears to be there to allow decent airflow from the PSU since the thing backs up pretty close to the rear of the CD/DVD drive. (Please note: I don't personally require that CD drive. I'll happily remove it if it could help.) In my googling I came across this short thread which closed out with the following troubling post:
Is anyone aware of where that leaves me? Can I still purchase a market PSU and it will fit inside? One thing I've noticed looking at shopping for PSUs is that there are never any actual measurements. Is that because they are universal in size? Will this Dell proprietary PSU be the same size (volume-wise) as standard PSUs, simply different in that it has a wedge taken out of the interior upper edge? And if any market standard PSU would still fit inside the 'Desktop' casing, how problematic would the 30mm or so of breathing room between the back of the PSU and the back of the optical drive be? And if that is an absolute no-no, can I simply remove the CD drive to no ill effect?
The Optiplex 330 power supply connectors are standard ATX, go HERE and compare the pinouts assignments of the power supply.
NOTE: The Optiplex 330 Desktop unit, supports a Dell proprietary power supply, due to it's shape and size, but the connectors are standard ATX, [...]
That last paragraph is largely what I was getting at with the worry that the whole project may be a fool's errand, attempting to reach for a spot that's beyond innate capabilities. Is this the case? (Pun half-heartedly intended.) Or is the whole PSU thing actually no big deal at all and I could just toss this PSU straight in there, no worries? And apologies in advance for that tangled string of questions.
The videocard that I had my eye on by the way is this ATI Radeon HD 5570 card. In the 'Cards' section of the User Guide, it states that:
I've looked all over for wattage of the videocard. Can't see it mentioned at all. I'm not sure if I'm being blind or if it's simply not information that's available. Where does that leave me?
PCI Express graphics cards that run higher than 75 W require an additional cooling fan installed. Otherwise, your card could overheat and damage your computer.
Are there any other things I need to be concerned with when considering the PSU? What numbers do I need to add up and what other number do I need to check against? I assume there's some basic electrition's addition involved somewhere to ensure a newly-built PC safely stays below some arbitrary bluescreen/housefire/explosion threshold?
So that's the situation for the most part. If the second part of this post (ie. the entire Question section) is simply the irrelevant and misinformed ravings of someone who doesn't know any better, please disregard entirely and address only how you personally would approach The Goal in light of the specific system and budget.
And obviously, if there's elements that are relevant which I'm simply missing wholesale, please point them out. Again, in case it isn't awfully apparent, I really don't know what I'm doing here. I'm basically treating this like Lego.
The Conclusion : I'm mainly looking for twofold guidance here -- Could my wish to play The Witcher on this computer, for no more than £100-ish of parts, be granted and, if so, am I on the correct path by purchasing the above videocard, the above PSU, 4GB of RAM and nothing else?
And yeah, sorry if this is a terribly worded and/or poorly structured and/or laughably misguided request.
Many advance thanks,
Edited by Toodee, 22 May 2011 - 02:22 PM.