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Windows 7: Dell Dimension 4300

22 Aug 2014   #1

Windows 7
Dell Dimension 4300

Picked up a Dell Dimension 4300 at a garage sale for $10.

It has a pentium 4 2.66 ghz and 512 of DDR PC266 RAM. The OS is Windows XP Home.

I'm going to increase the RAM to 1 Gig, maybe 2. Not sure if the computer will support 2 gigs of RAM. I'll probably also be adding a DVD drive and a newer video card.

My question is will this computer run Windows 7?

This computer will mostly be used for watching movies and streaming videos off the internet.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Aug 2014   #2

Windows 7

Sorry it's a Dell Dimension 4550
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Aug 2014   #3

Windows 7

Done some more digging it looks as if my computer will support up to 2 gigs of PC2700 memory. Any recommendations on a good AGP video card to use.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

23 Aug 2014   #4

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1

It will run marginally with 2GB RAM. 2GB is a drop dead minimum. 4GB is really beneficial. You will be running 32 bit Windows 7.

Finding a new AGP card is going to be tough. Probably better to find a working used card.
The process:
  • Find a card that you would buy
  • Go to the graphics manufacturer website and see if there is a 32 bit Windows 7 driver for that card.
  • NO - keep shopping
  • YES- buy card
You could get by with a Vista 32 bit driver, which you could install in Compatibility Mode.

You could also opt to just use the generic Windows 7 graphics driver. The card will work but there may be some limited functionality.

Same goes for drivers for all other devices.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Aug 2014   #5

Windows 7

I think I may just leave XP on it. It's running pretty smooth with it. I appreciate the advice on video card. I never thought about the 32 bit drivers before.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Aug 2014   #6

Windows 7 x64 Ultimate and numerous virtual machines

My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Aug 2014   #7

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit

I have this same computer (funny thing, mine costed about $2000 when I got it) and with the standard 512MB of RAM, it works. I would definitely not want to put Windows 7 on it. Install as little as you have to on it. I tried (after a clean install) installing F.lux, Skype, and the software for my wifi USB. It was slow after the next reboot.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Jul 2015   #8

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 & x32

I know this is an OLD thread, but for anyone who happens to be searching for info; Not sure what mobos will fit as this is proprietary Dell stuff. It does not bolt in the way regular generic mobos do. And it has a different power supply setup from what I've been able to discover. It is the standard 20 pin, but the pinouts are not atx standard. Note that this was written 7/15 so prices may change but the prices I give are good as of this writing. I also know that the OP updated that his was a 4550 not a 4300. That is actually good news as it offers some even better options for upgrades. Here are the basics for the 4300, given that folks will find this by searching for the 4300. I'll put some 4550 details at the end.

Yes the 4300 can run Win7. It's not a great machine for it, but you can make it work decently. In fact you can do quite a bit with this machine. A 3.0GHz P4 is available (though it will run you $40 whereas the 2.8GHz will be $10-$15). Look for a Northwood P4 with 400MHz FSB. The 2.8 is an SL7EY. These top end Northwood P4s will also have more cache, nothing to shout about in terms of modern stuff, but every little bit helps. These will come with 512k cache. Yes 1GB of pc133 is the max for this board. Expect to pay about $10 for the two 512MB ram sticks.

But there is still more you can do to bring this up to more modern standards.

You can add a PCI gigbit network card to speed up internet access. Expect to pay around $5-$10 for this. The original is a 10/100 so the 10/100/1000 gigabit card will really make a difference.

You can add a cheap SIL3114 or SIL3124 PCI SATA/RAID card and get SATA I (3114) or even SATA II (3124, though not sure how much faster SATA II would actually be on a PCI bus). That will let you add an SSD, which will at least double your drive speed even at "just" SATA I. And although TRIM will not work with these SIL cards, the SSD will be so fast that even without trim, it will max out the PCI bus. The best SSDs will have one of the good Sandforce controllers, that have better garbage collection. The 3114 should run less than $10 and the 3124 about $15. A good used SSD should be around $30 for between 60 and 120 GB. I got an Enterprise class brand new Cloudspeed 500 120GB for $35. This has great speed (in fact way more than this system will ever be able to tap) but it also has 3x the longevity of consumer SSDs and has power failure protection with on-board caps to ensure the cache is written to nand in the event of power loss.

Lastly the graphics card is where you can make a big difference. The original card is a joke. Even some of the "upgrades" will bench so bad you can't believe it. But you can get relatively cheap 512MB cards that will work with this system. Avoid the Geforce options like the Geforce 6200. Unless you are going to stick with XP, the Vista/Win 7 drivers for these are AFU. They seem to only properly support the PCI-e versions and not the AGP versions. The best option is probably an ATI Radeon HD 3450. I know the PowerColor Radeon HD3450 512MB card works great in this board and the drivers are good with Win 7. Expect to pay about $20-$25 for the Radeon HD 3450 w/512MB. I just got one brand new in the box, for that. This card does need a Molex 4 pin power connection, BTW.

So what does all this get you? Well the Windows Experience Index is not a great benchmark, but it will give you some idea of the results. So here is mine;

Processor (2.8GHz) ----------3.8
Memory (1GB pc133) ---------3.8
Desktop Graphics (HD3450) --3.4
Gaming Graphics (HD3450)---5.4
Primary Hard Drive (SSD) -----6.5 (this is limited by the PCI bus not the SSD)

Most will not have Win 7 on their 4300, so they may not have anything to compare this to. Before these changes, most of the scores on my 4300 with Win 7 were below 2 and a number of them were so low they could not be scored so they got a 1. So there are some *significant* improvements here.

Obviously this will never be a barn burner, but for under $100 you can make this a useable machine. Just don't expect to be running a handful of apps at the same time. My 4300 is about as fast as my older Core2Duo laptop. In some ways is it actually faster, (when disk access is significant), and in some ways it is a bit slower (when ram and CPU are significant). The nice thing is that with the swap file on the SSD, that has a lot less of an effect on speed. Between that and the 1GB, the memory based slowdowns are a lot less troublesome.

And yes this all runs off the stock PSU and does just fine. I had to get some Molex/SATA adapters for the SSD and the extra HD I added (I set this up with a 160GB IDE HD, a 160GB SATA HD and the 120GB SSD, plus an IDE DVD-RW and an IDE CD-R), and I had to get some Molex splitters. But in the end, the PSU was still able to handle everything, even when stress tested with OCCT.

The 4550 supports 533FSB which gives you a better selection of CPUs to choose from. I believe it also supports hyperthreading, at least that's what the manual indicates, I have not tried it myself. You will want the most recent BIOS and you must activate HT in the BIOS. But Dell says it will work. That means you effectively get a dual core (well two virtual cores running in one physical core, but it helps). The top processor for the 4550 is the 3.06GHz Northwood P4 533 MHz FSB CPU-Upgrade: Intel Pentium 4 3.06 GHz CPU

The other benefit of the 4550 over the 4300 is that it supports 2GB ram, but even better, it supports DDR as opposed to the pc133 SDRAM used in the 4300. I believe it supports up to DDR400, which if true would be a big improvement over the pc133. But any DDR will be better than the PC133, especially with 2GB and the better CPU/FSB to make use of the ram. M0321 6U214 0M0321 06U214 | Dell Dimension 4550 Motherboard M0321
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Jul 2015   #9

Windows 7 x64 Ultimate and numerous virtual machines

Honestly why struggle like this when you can pick up a refurb with warranty, plenty of RAM and will even run 64 bit AND come with a Windows 7 licence? For less than $200.
NeweggBusiness - PCs & Laptops, Desktop Computers, Desktop Computers, Refurbished, DELL
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Jul 2015   #10

Windows 10 64 bit

There are a lot of older systems that Windows 7 will install on. How well Win 7 runs is usually very marginal. On old Dell's such as these, Dell does not support newer Operating Systems and getting drivers for some of the old hardware is an issue. I used to work the Dell forums and users upgrading some of the older XP systems, even to Vista, at a minimum forced to install a different sound card as the OEM sound (integrated usually) was Dell proprietary and no Vista drivers were available.

All the Dimension line used Dell proprietary (and undocumented) front panel connections to the Motherboard. Not standard ATX connections. This proprietary front panel connection wiring can vary between models. Thus, unless the user was very technically advanced and could trace out all the wiring and then rewire it to standard ATX convention, a non-Dell, even a different Dell model, motherboard could not be installed. Some of the other Dell product lines were saddled with the same proprietary motherboards and front panel connectors. Later Dell's such as the Inspiron desktop line (the Inspiron replaced the Dimension models) have standard ATX connections.

Indianatone has the right advice. Go buy a refurbed PC that has Win 7 and compatible hardware. By the time an old one is upgraded, plus the cost of Win 7 OS, it can be more than a cheap refurbed PC.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Dell Dimension 4300

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