Dell for Mom - can add components?

Dell Inspiron 537s mini-tower desktop -...
October 20, 2009 at 10:32:32
Specs: Windows XP, AMD Athlon 3800+ 4GB RAM
My mom needs her own computer. She doesn't do much other than check e-mail, Facebook and shop. She might look at pictures, YouTube, update her iPod and type documents sometimes. I found a cheap, new Dell and I want to make sure A) This computer has enough power to handle the basic tasks she'll be doing. B) Will have the space inside so I can add a wireless internet card (it's the skinny tower and it'll need wireless).

Here's its specs:
-Inspiron Desktop 537s SlimTower
-Windows Vista Home Basic (I'm going to install XP on it)
-Intel Celeron Processor 450 (2.20GHz, 512K, 800FSB)
-Thermal Module, 65W
-16X DVD +/- RW w/dbl layer write capability
-320 GB SATA Hard Drive (7200 RPM)
-2 GB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz (2 DIMMs)
-125V Power Cord

Thoughts? If you must know, it was $209, previously ordered new.

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October 20, 2009 at 11:06:26
First, you'll need a monitor (I'm sure you already know that).

Second, make sure there are drivers for it if you're going back to XP (especially for SATA).

BTW, that's a good price for a new machine, but I hope that includes shipping. Dell really got me on a "deal" with a >$70 shipping charge several years ago on my girlfriend's unit...

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October 20, 2009 at 11:13:53
"it's the skinny tower and it'll need wireless"

The bad thing about slim towers is finding compatible hardware. Most of the wireless cards I've seen or used are small & *should* work, but using a USB wireless adapter is another option. If for some reason the power supply needed replacement, that's where you'd run into problems. They are not a standard size so you wouldn't be able to just buy one "off the shelf"'d have to get a Dell replacement. Video card upgrades would also be very limited due to the case design.

"I'm going to install XP on it"

You'd better check to see if XP compatible drivers are available before you even consider replacing the OS.

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October 20, 2009 at 11:28:23
Well, I already bought it from Dell Outlets. I had never seen a new system for that low of a price and couldn't pass it up. Shipping was free, but tax was $20. I'm giving her my current monitor as an excuse to buy myself a bigger, nicer one. ;)

For installing XP, I'd really only need to worry about the SATA drivers, right? I know there are some compatibility issues with XP and SATA (although XP went on my PC's SATA, no problem.) Anything else to check for?

I'll get the wireless card after I can get a good look inside and see if I need something extra small. Thanks! :)

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Related Solutions

October 20, 2009 at 14:09:19
"For installing XP, I'd really only need to worry about the SATA drivers, right?"

No, the network & audio drivers may also be difficult (or impossible) to find.

The SATA drivers will need to be loaded from a floppy at the start of the XP installation. If you don't have a floppy drive, you can create a new XP CD with the SATA drivers slipstreamed onto the disc.

Install Windows XP on SATA without a Floppy (F6)

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October 20, 2009 at 14:48:23
According to Dell Page, the optional WLAN card is HERE. The starting price is $79.99 - you could google for compatible wireless card or google for wireless internet usb" - it's far cheaper and works.


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October 20, 2009 at 14:54:03
^ Dell charges $80 for what costs less than $20. Also, I already bought the machine without wireless. Also, it was from Dell Outlet and you can't add system upgrades. I'm going to do it myself.

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October 20, 2009 at 15:10:09
Just a FWIW, but some of the newer "slim-line" machines (HP, Compaq, etc.) are a real b*tch to work on internally. Be prepared to bring along a large can of patience if you have to break open the machine. Also, don't downgrade to XP until you're positive you have all the drivers you need. Given no more than what she's going to be doing with it, you might have been able to get away with an older (cheap or almost free) PIII or P4 unit:

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October 20, 2009 at 15:39:12
Go buy the cheapest dell system you can find. (or hp or what ever brand since I don't like dell)

Be sure it comes with Windows 7 and if you need wireless get a cheap $15 usb wireless adapter.

You are wasting your time with XP even if you slipstreamed all the service packs and if you can get all the drivers even.

Windows 7 is just fine for Ma.

Download OpenOffice for office applications.

Playing to the angels
Les Paul (1915-2009)

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October 23, 2009 at 16:17:21
I tried to install XP without doing anything about the SATA drivers and it actually worked fine. I'm reconsidering wireless though since LAN is more reliable and less a hassle for my mom. I made a separate post regarding that. Thanks all.

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