Processor Upgrade
January 6, 2010 12:36 PM   Subscribe

I'm interesting in upgrading the processor on my computer, but I'm having a hard time getting good information on how to determine a viable upgrade.

This is what I currently have. Is it possible to tell what kind of motherboard I have based on my computer model? It's a Dell Vostro 400.

What would be helpful is learning what variables I need to be looking at to determine a legitimate upgrade option (so I don't buy the wrong thing), as well as specific examples of possible upgrades. Thank you!
posted by SpacemanStix to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
Why do you want to upgrade your computer? Specifically, what areas of performance do you want to improve? That processor isn't state of the art by any means, but depending on what you want to do (games, video editing, etc), other upgrades may be more cost-effective.
posted by Oktober at 12:40 PM on January 6, 2010

Best answer: A little bit of searching indicates that your system likely has a Foxconn DG33M03 motherboard. I'd recommend physically looking at it and/or checking with Dell to try to verify that, though.
posted by treblemaker at 12:52 PM on January 6, 2010

Response by poster: I'm looking to eek some more performance out of gaming primarily. RAM upgrade has been done (4GB), and my video card seems sufficient (GeForce 9800GTX+).

I believe this would be compatible (others have used it to upgrade the computer model I have, it looks like).

I guess one question is whether this would make sense to do. Would it be a sufficient performance gain?
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:54 PM on January 6, 2010

Sufficient is clearly relative. That's a better processor, of course. It should give you some improvement, but you want to be sure that the processor really is the bottleneck. It might be helpful to know which games have been giving you trouble.
posted by muteh at 1:15 PM on January 6, 2010

Best answer: What you want to do is find out exactly what type of motherboard you have. Open it up, find a name or some text/numbers and google it. Once you find out the motherboard, find out its specs.

Can it support a better processor? How much better? Is it worth it for you to scrap/sell this old processor and get a brand new one for the price?

Good luck.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:36 PM on January 6, 2010

Could you please post the service tag?
posted by sockpup at 1:58 PM on January 6, 2010

Best answer: You will need to know the exact model number of the motherboard, and from there you will need to find a supported list. The only way to know for certain is to open up the side of the computer and look for a model number. I have seen desktop information pages and service tags give incomplete or unreliable information, so physically checking is your best bet.

You can't assume anything based on socket type. You will also likely need to update your BIOS, which should be a simple process that Dell will have a little guide for. And you will need thermal paste for the physical installation, if you choose to do that yourself (most new Intel chips come with a new cooler and a small quantity of paste nowadays.) Make sure you are using a stock cooler now so you know that a proprietary OEM cooler wasn't used in your build, which might limit your options--but this isn't terribly likely.

Then you're pretty much set, just buy the new processor as listed on the spec sheet and install. Or have someone else do it. Good luck!
posted by Phyltre at 2:41 PM on January 6, 2010

Response by poster: Great, thanks for the help everyone. That's exactly what I needed.

I'm at work, but I'll check out my motherboard specs when I get home tonight. I do suspect it might be the DG33M03.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:48 PM on January 6, 2010

You might have better luck looking at Dell's site and seeing what processors are available for it. Unless something has changed, Dell's motherboards are different from the ones sold at retail. Even if it's the same part, it will have different BIOS settings and what not, and may not have the same capabilities as the retail part.

So, this.
posted by gjc at 5:01 PM on January 6, 2010

Response by poster: The new processor is installed and all went well. Thanks again for the help!
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:12 AM on January 11, 2010

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