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  1. #1
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    Can I upgrade my desktop with an SSD?

    I have a Dell Dimension 4600 desktop system. I would like to upgrade my system with an SSD. How can I tell whether this Dell supports an SSD? (Sorry for such a basic question but if I knew the answer . . .)

    Best,
    Dick

  2. #2
    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    Dick,

    I think that Dell is to old.

    The specs for the 4600 does specify 2 disk controllers: 1 IDE & 1 Serial ATA-150 (SATA).

    The way to check is to get into the BIOS (usually tapping F2 rapidly while booting on Dells) then checking if you have an option for ACHI mode on the disk controller. Some instructions say you can also use RAID configuration if available but that doesn't always work, see below!

    Like I said I doubt that machine will support it as I had a newer 8100 and it would not support an SSD even though it supported RAID.

    Also I checked the Crucial upgrade checker and it doesn't show an SSD option for the 4600.

    HTH
    Last edited by RetiredGeek; 2014-12-19 at 20:56.
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

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  4. #3
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    I'm in the other camp I guess. As long as you have a SATA board connection it should work. I have three or four on SATA-1 boards that are 9 or 10 years old (single core Athlon XP3200 CPUs) and haven't run into any issues at all and even at SATA-1 speeds, the SSDs are still significantly faster than spinners (very noticeable) and I don't use AHCI on half or more of my systems anyway since it is only advantageous in some specific use scenarios which I have never been able to distinguish in real use. Also, since the bus is only ATA-150, you can use a less expensive SSD rated at two or three hundred MB write/s instead of the top end "ultra" models.

    I also keep RAID invocation at arms length if I can; it's a "handicapped" mobo in my opinion if it has to be used even in a non-RAID situation.

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  6. #4
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    Yes, it will support a SSD. I have an old 4600 that I keep on my workbench as a testbed for working on other systems' hard drives because the 4600 was one of those transitional machines that readily supported both SATA and IDE. The 4600 has two IDE channels and two SATA ports so it can support up to 4 IDE devices and 2 SATA devices at the same time.

    Mine currently boots from a SATA hard drive running Win7, but a SSD would be no different. Note you will need a 2.5"-to-3.5" mounting adapter to mount the typical 2.5" SSD in one of the 4600's 3.5" hard drive or floppy drive bays.

    I have installed a boot SSD in the past but decided it was kind of a waste. SSDs are more expensive and my 4600 was only a testbed anyway, so not something I regularly used.

    What OS are you running now? If you're on XP, bear in mind that the 4600's onboard video does not readily support Win7. You'll need to add a DirectX 9-capable AGP 4X video card (such as this) to fully support Win7. AGP cards are getting harder to find these days, and if you want to run Win8 you'll also have to make sure what you get has Win8 drivers available.

    However, as RG said, the 4600 is pretty old so it's really not worth upgrading. Besides the video issue you're going to be limited to 4GB of ram and a relatively slow Pentium 4 processor that supports only 32-bit versions of Windows. By the time you add up the costs of SSD, ram, video card, a retail copy of Win7/8, and the time fiddling to make it all work together, you'll find you'd be better off just buying a new, cheap Dell Inspiron 3000 (currently around $350-$450). Even a SSD won't make a 4600 as fast as a new machine with a traditional HDD. At some point upgrading is throwing good money after bad, and the 4600 is well beyond that point.
    Last edited by dg1261; 2014-12-20 at 16:42.

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    Maybe Mrs Santa will be good to me . . .

    Thanks for all the good advice,
    Dick

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    Ya, I agree with almost all of that and only half-disagree on one point; the SSD makes the old computer easily faster than even a modern system with just a HDD unless the other components gets saturated, such as 100% CPU cycles. Mine all start life with good video cards too so that helps long after they've seen their best years. Older systems can suffer from "bit rot" much more readily with large modern programs and an SSD with random access does a wonderful job of snuffing that out. So for me $60 for a 128GB SSD is well worth it and I can always reuse it somewhere else if the old bird dies.

  10. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by F.U.N. downtown View Post
    Ya, I agree with almost all of that and only half-disagree on one point; the SSD makes the old computer easily faster than even a modern system with just a HDD unless the other components gets saturated, such as 100% CPU cycles. Mine all start life with good video cards too so that helps long after they've seen their best years. Older systems can suffer from "bit rot" much more readily with large modern programs and an SSD with random access does a wonderful job of snuffing that out. So for me $60 for a 128GB SSD is well worth it and I can always reuse it somewhere else if the old bird dies.
    I agree with this statement. SSDs price has got into a point where buying even a 256 GB SSD is a no brainer and it can really change a system from bearable to usable, as long there aren't other limiting factors, such as CPU usage. An SSD will even lessen the effects of not having enough RAM, by speeding page swaps.
    Rui
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  11. #8
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    I have several old 4600s here and frequently prep new Inspiron 3000s for clients. I am quite familiar with both and stand by my statement: the I-3000 with DDR3 ram and SATA-3 spinning disk is faster in everyday use than a 4600 with DDR ram and SATA-1 SSD. The 4600 ceased production more than 10 years ago and is more than a little out of date. Yes, you can extend its life a tad by upgrading parts, but at what point are you going to admit the money would be better put toward a new box?

    Fortunately a SSD is transferable, so there's no loss if Dick wants to give it a try in the 4600. He can still reuse it in the modern machine he'll eventually realize he should have bought anyway. Just be careful that when the 4600 still leaves you wanting that you don't sink money into technology that won't be transferable, like an AGP card or DDR memory


    .

  12. #9
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    Thanks all. I think I will wait to buy a replacement desktop until Windows 10 is available in a relatively stable state. Then I can get the new op system with my new PC.

    Dick

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