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Dell Precision 530
06-16-2009, 10:18 PM (This post was last modified: 06-16-2009 10:54 PM by robthebloke.)
Post: #1
Dell Precision 530
My next project: refurbishing a Dell Precision 530 workstation Tongue
- 2 X 2.2Ghz Pentium 4 Xeon hyper-threaded
- 512Mb ECC RDRAM (4*128mb)
- Quadro something or other
- 68 pin scsi raid interface
- Not much else in the case (drives removed)

The case is fairly tatty, it's missing all of the hard drive & CD rom mounts (it's going to be fun trying to find replacements!), and the door at the front has fallen off (as is the case for every single one of these machines). Some pics of the 530:

case
motherboard
PSU

I'd love to replace the case, but unfortunately the machine has a custom dell motherboard (that won't fit into anything else), and also has a custom dell powersupply - so without resorting to hacksaws and a bit of welding, that's not going to happen i'm guessing. Any suggestions for easy ways to improve that are welcome.

So, thinking of pimping it up a bit.

- replace the case fans (they're pretty noisy right now!)
- i think it supports RAID0, and handily I have 2x 120Gb PATA drives to hand
- I've bought 1Gb RDRAM from a guy on e-bay for ~£40 (It's £180 brand new!)
- DVDRW, and maybe a blu-ray drive (which will need a sata controller card)
- If i can find any cheap 36Gb 15k SCSI drives on ebay.... Smile
- TV-tuner.
- attempt to install vista on it. (not sure if I'll be able to get all the drivers working, but might as well have a go Tongue). It's stuck on a 32bit OS unfortunately - no 64bit

The machine only has 4 memory slots, which is a bit of a pain. You can buy memory riser boards for it, but again that's something I'm going to have to find on e-bay. I'm on the hunt at the moment.

Looking to pimp this a bit stupidly, so if you have any daft suggestions, they are all welcome Wink
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06-16-2009, 11:37 PM (This post was last modified: 06-16-2009 11:51 PM by robthebloke.)
Post: #2
RE: Dell Precision 530
... and it appears that you can't use standard case fans either Angry
Never, ever, ever buy a dell Exclamation
.... and the replacement fans have been out of production for years. I've found one place that sells them in the US... this is becoming a bit of a hassle Dodgy
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06-17-2009, 02:46 AM (This post was last modified: 06-17-2009 02:48 AM by aram.)
Post: #3
RE: Dell Precision 530
Hehe, did it come from a place beginning with NC by any chance? Wink

The motherboard has ISA! Retro! Gotta love ISA, had 2 of em in my first PC and actually used one for a COLOR! scanner card. That was before all this USB nonsence, proper PC building!

I do have to ask.....why bother? The end result is going to be out benched by a mid range core 2 and probably cost as much.....no?

lol, yea Dell Desktops are fun Wink
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06-17-2009, 04:04 AM
Post: #4
RE: Dell Precision 530
(06-17-2009 02:46 AM)aram Wrote:  Hehe, did it come from a place beginning with NC by any chance? Wink

nope. It came from math engine, a now defunct company, and has been sitting in the corner of our office for a few years. It was destined for the tip when i grabbed it....

Quote:The motherboard has ISA!

It's not *that* old! I think you mean the stupid high end 64bit PCI slots for scsi controllers and all that jazz that no one ever uses.....

(06-17-2009 02:46 AM)aram Wrote:  I do have to ask.....why bother? The end result is going to be out benched by a mid range core 2 and probably cost as much.....no?

because it's fun, and more environmentally friendly than binning them. The point isn't really to create an awesome gaming machine, but to create a basic, but fully capable PC that will be much loved by a future owner (who probably only wants to watch some porn, burn a few CD's, watch a bit of TV, maybe even a DVD....)

I have a habit of grabbing the crappy pc's from work, upgrade them with a few old bits that are lying around, add a few new bits, polish them up a bit, then sell them on at cost to someone who's looking for a cheap computer. Given the number of poor students around oxford, it's normally pretty easy to find them a decent home Wink

It's not going to win any speed awards, but it's not going to be that bad either. Even though it's rambus, the memory is running at 800Mhz. some Pata drives in RAID0 will beat a sata drive without too much problem. At 4 x 2.2Ghz, it's probably only equivalent to a 1.4Ghz core2 quad or so, which in all fairness is not bad at all for a 7 year old machine Tongue
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06-26-2009, 09:32 PM
Post: #5
RE: Dell Precision 530
Right then. Quick progress report.

I've managed to install Windows7 onto the dell precision 530. Sweet.

Interestingly, XP and windows7 reports 4 installed CPU's, Vista reports 2. Under vista, the CPU scored 3.1 on the experience index nonsense. Under 7, the CPU scores 4.1 (and similar differences are visible in SiSandra benchmarks). So, if you happen to have one of these machines, don't install Vista, install windows 7!

Vista gives the memory a score of 4.4, which isn't too bad for a vintage 2002 machine. There's 1.25Gb of ram at the moment, I may have a hunt for another 1Gb just to beef it up a little, but I don't think it's needed - it seems to be OK without it (may have problems with heavy apps, eg photoshop/maya - but that's not going to be a problem for the new owners).

The main HDD's are a pair of 120Gb ATA133 drives. I couldn't get them to talk to the motherboard IDE controller at all, so have resorted to an old ATA133 Sil 680 RAID card I had lying around. I suspect that may be due to the motherboard being ATA66 or something like that (and unable to handle the hard drive size?). The raid card seems to do the job, and is quite happy using the windows XP drivers for windows7. Scores 5.9 in the windows experience index.

Managed to get replacement drives rails off ebay for a couple of quid.

I have a strong feeling that a 150Gb Sata raptor is going to be falling into my lap in the next week, so I may stick it in the final hard drive bay as a backup device.

The only devices that weren't picked up by default under windows7 were the Scsi adapter, the sound card and the 3com network card. All 3 drivers available on the dell support site worked and installed without a hitch. So that's good news. Everything works Smile

There's no USB2.0 on the dell, so I ended up installing this: http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Scan-5-Po...ble-Hi-End
Just worked straight out of the box (no drivers needed).

I've also added a sata controller into the final PCI slot and have connected a BD rom to it. So now the machine has ATA, SATA, and SCSI Raid controllers Wink The sata card itself works fine, but it's having trouble talking to the Blu ray drive at the moment. I think that's just a case of me needing to install the BASE driver (instead of letting it choose automatically)

I've added the cheapest/nastiest TV tuner i could find. Cost £6 on today only Smile
http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Atmt-FREE...-PC-Laptop
The software wont install under vista or windows7, so don't bother. Instead plug in the TV tuner, go into the device manager, right click on it, and select "Upgrade Driver". Tell windows to go manually search the DVD, and it will pick up the TV tuner and be usable in media center.

I added a cheap ATI HD 2400 PRO AGP graphics card (one with DX10 & Blu-Ray playback support). Couldn't get the latest catalyst drivers for windows7 to install, but the ones for vista worked strangely. All seems good so far.

I had to do a bit of case modification to cut a hole to allow cables to go from the Sata/IDE cards to the actual drives. Nothing too scary.

Due primarily to the Today Only section on scan, and a bit of prduent bit of e-baying, I'm up to a grand total cost of just under £130. Add £49.99 for a pre-ordered copy of Windows 7 premium, a second hand widescreen monitor, and job's a good un.
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06-29-2009, 09:24 AM
Post: #6
RE: Dell Precision 530
good job mate! Seems it was worth it after all Wink
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07-01-2009, 11:06 PM
Post: #7
RE: Dell Precision 530
(06-29-2009 09:24 AM)aram Wrote:  good job mate! Seems it was worth it after all Wink

It ended up being a right pita! But eventually got the blu ray drive working.

The SATA and IDE cards didn't like playing together at all, which eventually I worked around by setting the sata as primary, and had to install windows 7 onto the raptor drive i 'found'. If any devices were connected to the Sata card, and the sata card was not the primary device it would not boot. Anyhow, all works now. Blu ray playback is surprisingly good, though if you are using windows 7 just be aware that Power DVD8 doesn't work (and neither does the ATI catalyst control center for AGP cards - though thankfully the driver does!).
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08-16-2009, 06:17 AM
Post: #8
RE: Dell Precision 530
I was hoping you could help me. I've been trying to install a DVD drive in my Precision 530 but I've had no luck. The BIOS is recognizing it as a CD drive and not a DVD drive and XP will only read CDs in it and not DVDs. I've tried cable select, master, and slave settings. Could you tell me the steps you took to install the DVD drive and what BIOS & hardware settings you used?

Thanks
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10-13-2009, 09:26 PM (This post was last modified: 10-13-2009 09:30 PM by robthebloke.)
Post: #9
RE: Dell Precision 530
I had to rip out the CD drive and replace it with an IDE (aka pata) DVD RW drive. Likely to set you back about £15 to £20. It's not lying about it being a CDROM Wink
The drives should be easy to just swap over - the only BIOS magic I had to do was to simply disable any IDE channels that were not being used. That's all that was needed. Getting a SATA card to work in it was a royal PITA though.
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