Upgrading my Dimension 8400

Here are my specs:

1022MB ram (2 x 512mb ram)
NVIDIA Geforce 6800 - with 256 video ram (PCI-Express)
2 processors running - Intel® Pentium® 4 CPU 3.20GHz
3.19 GHz Performance Rated at 4.79 GHz

I have a few questions regarding upgrading this particular model. Which i plan on using for gaming purposes.

  1. There are four slots for RAM on the motherboard. I planned on buying 2 x 2gb sticks of ram to replace the 2 x 512mb ones, but i heard somewhere that each slot can only handle 1gb. Can anyone elaborate on that?
  2. Will upgrading the ram solve some of the overheating issues i’ve been having? I know that the cooling system has much do with it, but will the extra ram take a lot of pressure of the comp?
  3. How is my graphics card? It’s about 3 years old, but is it good enough to handle todays games on better settings (if i had more ram that is)? If not, can anyone recommend a better graphics card that is less than $100?
  4. I’ve heard bad things about the processors i have now. Can anyone elaborate on how it’ll affect my performance on games.

I think your best bet would be to start up new. P4’s run really hot and if you have two it’s worse. Even a base line Core2 Duo is going to be faster and cooler than what you have now.
But if your stuck with it, you want to upgrade the ram. Just get four 1gb sticks if your worried about having two 2GB ones and then get a new video card I would really look at a Radeon HD 4850, good price performace ratio. Also, you might want to slap in a better power suppply than the stock dell one. You probably want 450 watts and something with a 120mm fan to help cool off the inside of the case. You could also look at some antec tri-cool fans which run pretty silent, but only if your case has space for mounting them.

Buying a new comp is out of the question unfortunately. To be honest i was looking to spend around $200 for all the stuff for the comp. I can’t afford that GC you recommended though. I was thinking an 8600GT.

I’ve been thinking about buying a new power supply and fan:

Is this a good PSU?

I had this in mind for the ram. The 8400 can only handle 1gb per slot:

Are these good?

PC Power and Cooling made some good PSU’s last time I was in the market. I know nothing about that particular PSU though.

Ram is decent, but it’s cheaper at newegg.com

  1. That’s a hardware design issue. Each slot will only handle 1 GB of ram and that’s that. Buying 2x 1GB would under normal circumstances be more than enough. You’ll have to decide for yourself if you want to try 3 GB. Also make sure before buying 4 GB that your computer and operating system will work with 4 GB.

  2. Not likely. But there is one opportunity that more ram could reduce the heat. If the Operating system is constantly swapping programs between the RAM and the HDD you’d get a lot of heat. However with 1 GB of ram this shouldn’t occur often enough to make a noticeable difference in heat.

  3. Not likely on ‘better’ settings. But for me graphics don’t matter, all that matters is response time. With a new power supply you can buy a newer graphics card and not worry about power problems.

  4. Already partially covered. If you wanted to upgrade to a new processor, you’d have to buy a new motherboard and probably new ram. P4’s are hot, so if you’re overclocking it(that’s why you said 4.79GHz right?), then stop over clocking it. If you don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about, just ignore that bit about overclocking.
    Now in game performance with two p4’s at 3.2 GHz as compared with a 3.2 GHz core 2 duo, which also has two “processors”. You likely will not notice much of a difference between the two. By “processors” I mean the core 2 duo has 2 processing cores on one chip, where it seems you have two separate pentium 4’s.

When you think you have found something good, such as that power supply. Use google to search for it, and read as many user reviews as possible from web pages such as amazon, new egg, etc.

Overall, your system will be running hot while playing games. Nothing you can do about it.

If you’re still using 32-bit Windows, don’t bother upgrading to 4GB of RAM because it won’t be able to use all 4GB of RAM (tech explanation here). You should be fine with an upgrade to 2GB of RAM.

I also read some really good things about the GeForce 8800 GT (a list at Newegg). Granted it’s not under $100, but it’s probably the best bang-for-your-buck card you can get if you don’t mind spending an extra $50. Reviews mention that the card is long, so make sure you case is big enough to hold it. I’m planning to buy this card soon to replace my GeForce 7600 GT.

How exactly can i tell if my comp is running 32-bit windows? I checked up the dimension 8400 online and 4gb of ram is the maximum it can run. I planned on getting more than enough ram because my comp is finally starting to show it’s age (getting slow). Is 2gb really going to be enough to run games like Crysis and Warhammer Online well?

If you have P4’s, you’re using 32bit windows.

Dammit. I had my heart set on getting 4gbs of ram.

Quick question: is the PSU difficult to change out?

I recently changed my power supply and it’s relatively easy, although you should have your motherboard manual handy so that you can keep track of all the motherboard components that need to be connected to your new PSU.

I looked up the info in the BIOS menu and it said my processor possess the 64 bit technology. The INTEL EM64T.

What EveryFlower meant was that if you have P4’s, chances are that you bought your computer with a 32-bit Windows OS. Here’s a simple question. Did you upgrade your computer to Windows XP 64-bit or Windows Vista 64-bit at any point during the life of your computer? If the answer is no, then you’re using 32-bit Windows and thus unable to read 4 GB of RAM.

No. :sad:

Is it possible for me to upgrade to a Windows 64-bit then?

Well the INTEL EM64T can run a 64 bit OS so you’re in luck. Are you planning on upgrading your processor though?

Is it possible for me to upgrade to a better processor? I assumed that weren’t any options to upgrade to on an 8400.

EDIT: If i do keep this processor, will it hinder the performance of the upgraded graphics card and additional memory?

It already looks like i have enough stuff for the upgrade though:

2gb of ram (i’d like 4 though)
geforce 8800GT

How does that look? I’ve got only around $250 to spend.

You need to buy your PC parts from newegg.com or zipzoomfly.com that will save you a ton of money. Thermaltake makes a pretty good powersupply for around 30 bucks.

The processor won’t slow your GPUs because they are all from around the same generation. But, don’t buy PC parts from amazon, no real good deals there.

Also, eventhough you have two P4s they do not campre to the power of a core 2 duo, the make up is so different that even the slowest core2duo is easily twice as fast as what you have now.

I don’t think you can upgrade your process without a new Mobo and that would be about the price of a New pc anyway. But you can easily work with what you have.

You would need a new motherboard to use a new processor, but since that’s out of your budget, what you have planned for your upgrade is pretty good. What’s the watt of your current power supply?

If you plan on upgrading to Vista 64-bit, then at that point you have to buy a new motherboard and a new processor. Vista is resource-intensive, and you need at least 4GB of RAM and a good processor for it to run properly.

Ram won’t solve your heating problem. I got a Dell P4 as well and its hot and a bit noisy. I rarely use up the full 1gb on applications.

Given your budget, you might want to get a good deal on 2 GB of RAM and spend the rest on a better videocard. PC games are often limited by the power of the videocard rather than the CPU. As long as that CPU isn’t super old.

3.19 GHz Performance Rated at 4.79 GHz

This is nonsense btw, what is that from?