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I have a Dell Precision 380 that is a couple of years old, but works fine. I have installed Windows 7 on it and it runs fairly well.

My question is whether I should spend money on upgrading the hardware. For example, I wanted to up it to 4 GB of RAM for about $60 and add a cheap video card from ASUS for about $50.

I was also thinking of buying a Core i3 processor for around $100 and adding that. If the motherboard is several years old, will it make a difference if I upgrade the processor? I wasn't sure how much of a role the motherboard plays in all these performance aspects.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!


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closed as off topic by Daniel Beck Jan 6 '13 at 18:51

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As we know nothing about your disposable income, the importance of this computer for you, or what you use it for, we cannot decide for you whether it's worth it. – Daniel Beck Jan 6 '13 at 18:52
Why the hell does someone always close my questions? This is getting really damn annoying. I asked a computer hardware question about a problem I'm actually having!! THAT'S WHAT IT SAYS IN THE DAMN FAQ. – Aseem Kishore Jan 6 '13 at 21:49
up vote 1 down vote accepted

What you suggest will not work.

In general it depends on how much speed do you need, how much are you willing to spent, what is compatible.

The last of those three is most easily quantified:
According to Dell the Precision 380 uses an Intel 955X chipset. That one is compatible with a Pentium 4 or a pentium D. Not with an I3. So at most you can use a Pentium D 960. and that is assuming the BIOS supports it and that the motherboard can supply enough power. (For the mentioned CPU, follow the link to and notice that it has a TPD of 130 Watt.).

Given the age of the system you will run into similar problems with the RAM (DDR2 ECC).

The PCIe bus however (a v1.1 bus) should accept any modern graphical card.

Basically, for any old computer:

  • Do check what it supports
  • Do check what those old component cost
  • and check how much performance you gain.

Almost always you will come to the conclusion that you either want to replace a single component which is limiting you right now, and do a full system upgrade later on, or that it might be best to buy a complete new system. With desktops which are more than 5 years old the latter is often more economical.

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Thank you for your answer, that is the exact level of detail I was looking for! – Aseem Kishore Jan 6 '13 at 21:52

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