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Upgrading processor on Dell Dimension e521

by usaswim / June 16, 2008 3:56 AM PDT

I want to upgrade my current AMD Athlon CPU to an AMD Phenom, but my current motherboard isn't compatible with it. Which motherboards can I get that are compatible with AMD Phenom (socket AM2+) and that will fit inside the case? I assume that my current memory sticks will not be compatible with the new processor. Thanks.

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open the box and look
by squirtlewa / June 18, 2008 11:12 PM PDT

There's just a few sizes of motherboard. I did a quick look at Dell's page for the e521 and whereas they give a nice 3-d rotating view of the 'puter, they don't give a lot of tech specs.

Incidentally, your case won't know or care if you switched to Intel instead of AMD. By changing the mainboard and cpu, you're gonna lose any warranty support you might still have with Dell anyway.

It looks like mATX to me, but you can just open up the box and measure to be positive. I've had the embarrassing problem of believing what the manufacturer wrote about my case and buying a full-size mobo only to discover it's micro not regular.

Reusing the e521 case should be just fine. A heads-up is the "I/O shield" of your new motherboard may not match up with the old one, and in a lot of proprietary cases the I/O shield isn't made to pop out easily. I've used tin snips to make way for a new one.

I don't see any reason you can't use the same DDR2 you have currently. I mean assuming you choose your new motherboard sensibly (obviously if it's DDR3 then . . .)

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Solved.
by usaswim / June 19, 2008 12:00 AM PDT
In reply to: open the box and look

I don't have anymore warranty support on this Dell anyway. I did some research and found that the E521 is BTX form factor, and tech support said Dell motherboards are made specifically for the case and cannot be changed. Knowing this, I just plan to build my own computer instead. Thanks.

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time to let BTX go
by squirtlewa / June 19, 2008 1:33 AM PDT
In reply to: Solved.

BTX severely limits your choices for mobo.

I'm afraid I'm one of the few who thought BTX was a good innovation. I still have a BTX case that I like (cool + quiet), but next go-around I'm gonna scrap it, as Pentium D is about as high as you can go.

Dell (and others) will say their mobo/case are specific, but in practice I've found you can still re-use and switch out. A case is a case, especially if you've some decent tools.

But form-factor isn't something you can mod, and I'm afraid BTX went the way of other good ideas that didn't work out. So, yeah, sounds like a new case will be part of the line-up too.

Have fun!

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