Need help with HP XW8400 Workstation (XP Gaming)

Planning on turning a old XW8400 into a Windows XP gaming rig.
It has no graphics card into it.
No hard drive (probably not going to get an ssd for it and stick with a 7200 rpm drive)
Thinking on getting a new power supply for it seeing as the current one is hella old and dont trust it.
I’ll link quick specs later for the rest later.

Does anyone have any suggestions for maybe custom XP distributions and maybe graphics cards ideas? Some game idea would be welcome too. From DOS to XP is fine.

Old workstations are power hungry so you want a 800 Watt to 1000 Watt PSU.
Get something that a minimum of 80 Bronze plus or better

The old XW8400 comes with two 64-bit Intel Xeon 5300 sequence quad core processors
But the 64 Bit version of XP have some driver incompatibility issues.

But you want the 64 Bit version if you want to use more than 4GB of Ram (actually more like 3.5GB as due to the limitation of 32 bit addressing.

Windows Vista can also run on the XW8400 quite well with less issues.
As well as various distros of Linux.
I would not go with any OS newer than Win 7 for Windows as Win 10 Home will not see both processors (Win 10 Pro would).

ATI Radeon X1950 XTX or a Nvidia GeForce 7950 GX2 were the top cards of the era (2006)
But I would not restrict yourself to period cards.
The CPU will be the bottleneck, so the more modern cards will not that well as you think with the PCI-E slot is only gen 1.
Gtx 660 or Radeon HD 7850 would be your best shot.

With alot of older games, they work better with the period graphic cards better as they get hardware acceleration, get something too modern and you stuck in software rendering

its up to you if you want to use the onboard Realtek High Definition Audio or something like a PCI or PCI-E Soundblaster card. A Expansion sound card can offload some tasks off the CPU and give you back a few frames.

I would use a SSD instead of a spinning HDD as SSD prices came down in price and should run fine in the old machine. It also help with start up and loading times.

As for Dos gaming you could do Win Xp, older machines running 98 will do a better job of this.


Yeah eventually want to upgrade the CPUs and The RAM to thier max. So 64bit XP custom distro is probably the way I’m going.
I thought the use of a SSD would be pointless since the Sata speeds wouldnt go fast enough to be beneficial?
Didnt think about a sound card. Sounds like good advice thank you very much!

I seen how a SD card to IDE improved older computers, I got a friend who uses a SD card for a HDD on his 95/98 Machine and I never saw Windows 98 boot up so fast before.

Yes you hit bottle necks, but the slow down will not be from the drive.


Gotcha. If I find one for a decent price I’ll pick it up then. I’m not in a major rush so I’m able to shop for some deals.

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Nice, I have an old 2003/2004 laptop that crapped out on me a few years ago because the hard drive died. Been thinking of setting it back up again for some light retro gaming; didn’t even occur to me to use an SD-to-IDE converter as a replacement drive. Thanks for the idea!


Yeah one of the YouTube channels I watch is Lazy Game Reviews where the guy reviews or covers alot of retro and vintage tech.
His just been rebuilt Win 98 machine uses an SD card.

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Maybe use the Lakka distro if you plan on doing that. I’m thinking on doing Ubuntu on mine so I can play some Brutal Doom