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Upgrading a Dell Optiplex 330 'Desktop' model

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Hi. My name is Dee, posting from the UK, and I'm a PC DIY first-timer. My sum knowledge in the field of building/upgrading systems amounts to whatever I've gleaned from the several dozen related Google searches I've performed over the past week. With that said, it's very nice to meet you all.

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:

Posted Image 'Desktop' model = smaller one
Posted Image 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:

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, [...]

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?

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:

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.

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?

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.

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Firstly, apologies for bumping a dead thread (I guess I put all the experts on to their back foot with my acute levels of newbery - nobody wished to go near this one with a bargepole). I would much rather have simply edited the following info directly into the bottom of the initial post so as to avoid raising it from the bottom of the page, but it seems like editing is disabled after a period of time (at least, I'm no longer seeing a button here that says 'Edit post'). I do wish to provide an account of my experience though in case this thread shows up for any inquiring Googlers.


To any persons from the future who might find this post via a Google search for 'optiplex 330' or whatever, looking for info on similar issues relating to the paltry PSU: hello; I'd like to offer my own testimonial relating to the above post I made a few weeks ago.

Okayso. It became apparent that replacing the proprietary PSU was not realistically feasible. If it's possible, I never discovered how. So I went and ahead and probably did a very silly thing. I ignored issues of wattage. I ordered am ATI RADEON HD5570 1GB DDR3 LOW PROFILE card (specifically this one) and 2x2GB of RAM. Upon delivery, the two sticks of memory went in perfectly and the card was close to being a complete disaster. Due to the shape of the low profile bracket that's provided (ie. double width) and the location of the PCI Express card slot which this card goes into, there was an issue in which the bracket flat out didn't fit inside the case. Dismayed and desperate, I worked out which part of the metal bracket was causing the problem and removed it wholesale with a junior hacksaw. This removed the housing for the VGA input. I was able to use a VGA->DVI-I adaptor to attach my VGA monitor and the bracket did end up slotting in quite nicely. So, not a disaster, but quite a near-miss.

Okay, on to the actual issue of using a component which is explicitly not recommended for the system. This card, whilst undoubtedly 'low power' according to all the reviews I read, is still capable of drawing more power from a PSU than a 280W supply can provide. I believe the recommended minimum wattage for a PSU on the 3DGuru review was 350W. It is this information which I, perhaps recklessly, chose (and, indeed, choose) to ignore. PLEASE NOTE: I am not advising you do the same. I just wish to provide an account of how it has worked for me.

It's worked fine.

I'm playing The Witcher:EE on med-high settings at constant 30FPS on a 1650x1280 monitor, triple-buffering forced through D3DOverrider and I've had absolutely zero problems up to Chapter 4 (three quarters of the way through the game). I have been playing in spells of 3-5 hours continuously at a time.

My guess is that I'm simply lucky not to be pushing the card as far as it can be pushed. That is, at full strain I assume the card would draw the amount of power which requires that 350W minimum requirement. My **completely unqualified and hugely ignorant** position therefore is that, as long as I keep the card running at no more than a middling level, it won't push that wattage through the current ceiling the crappy 280W PSU provides. My understanding is that, at best, doing so would cause graphical failures and a hard-crash; at worst, it would fry my motherboard. As long as I keep the card under only moderate strain however, I should be able to continue as I am. I'm genuinely really pleased by the computer's performance now. If I do end up breaking the computer because of this, I know that I'll only have myself to blame.

Again, one last time, please consider carefully what to make of this testimonial. I offer it only to provide some actual experience in an area that I found Google was severely lacking in. THIS IS NOT TO BE TAKEN AS ADVICE. I'm sure it's written somewhere in a Common Sense Guide that 'following recommendations for minimum wattage requirements is a good idea'. That said, I have never lacked for a lack of common sense and so I get to play with fire whilst simultaneously enjoying playing with fiery redheads.

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Hi Toodee :)
Sorry that you did not receive a response to your OP, this may be in part be due to the amount of information you divulged, the opposite to what some members do, tell us nothing but expect help :unsure:
Just a FYI, if you had post that you had a Dell Optiplex 330 DT, had a budget of £100 and what upgrades do I need to be able to play The Witcher: EEDC you may have got a reply.
Now to your last post, what you are effectively doing by knowingly using an underpowered PSU is slowly as opposed to instantly killing your MB, CPU, Ram, add on card/s (including the HD5570) and your drives, this is apart from the danger of electrocution or fire.
Below is some information on what can be the outcome of using cheap, low quality and under powered PSUs;
now watch the video; Is it worth it! :yes:
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