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Installing Windows 7 32-bit on a Dell Dimension 4600 Desktop

by hoopsurfer / January 7, 2010 5:53 PM PST

Another upgrade experience - I upgraded my in-law's Dell Dimension 4600 that had been running XP. The idea was to minimize the upgrade expense - they are planning to buy a new system next year. It was an easy upgrade and with one special driver install to support the built-in graphics hardware, the machine runs GREAT with Windows 7. I wanted to capture the basic experience for others to learn from and use, so here it is.

A quick check with Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor noted the machine had only 512MB of memory, so I first bought & installed 1GB (2x512MB)of the cheapest PC3200 DDR RAM I could find and tested it by booting XP and rerunning the upgrade advisor - the only hardware issue reported was no support for the built-in Intel graphics chip. I figured if I couldn't fix that, an inexpensive AGP graphics card would remedy the issue. Overall the system felt sluggish even on XP so I was hopeful it would improve with Windows 7.

I had to do a clean install from a machine that was previously running XP 32-bit to Windows 7 32-bit. I performed a full backup, and then installed the Windows 7 Easy Transfer for XP software from and backed up all the user information on the machine to an external drive ? THIS STEP MAKES MIGRATION EASY so don?t skip it. It is a good time to make a note of any interesting software you are going to want to reinstall ? the report from the easy transfer software makes this easy.

Installing Windows 7
The actual installation process is done by booting from the proper DVD (32-bit for this system). When the disk partitions come up, click the advanced menu and delete all the existing partitions (there were some OEM partitions for recovery that I wiped away - those partitions only supported recovery to XP so they were useless). Once all the partitions are deleted, proceed with the installation and the system will setup default partitions and boot up fine.

Fixing Video
At this point the system runs 640x480 on a generic VGA driver, so fixing the video driver is a priority. I had noted the machine had a
Intel 865G graphics processor, which Windows 7 does not support - don't panic.

Install the graphics processor drivers from ,
- the Dell support site, however don?t just run it, instead save it to your downloads directory and perform the following steps and the download is finished and you find it:

o run it by right clicking "Troubleshoot Compatibility
o choose "Troubleshoot Program", next
o "The Program worked with an earlier version of Windows" and "The program requires additional permissions" boxes are checked, next
o select "XP" option, next
o press ?Start the Program" and that should complete the install

If you don?t do this the install may fail (it needs to think it is running on XP). After a reboot the screen resolution improved to 1280x1024 - quite acceptable. Of course you will not get Aero support - if you want that you will need to get an appropriate AGP video card.

Restore your Data
At this point, plug in your external drive where the Easy Transfer file is stored, wander to the file, double click it and a wizard will take you through the restore process.

Installing Basic Software
Install all the updates required from windows update, reboot, run windows update again and install any other important updates. Next install ? antivirus, Windows Live suite, configure desktop gadgets (clock, weather, and calendar in my case).

Final Check
Visiting the ?Devices and Printers? off the start menu verified there were no other missing devices. I installed Office (2010 beta), a few other needed apps, and then ran a full backup to an external drive. The system was noticably more responsible and had a faster boot time - some of that is likely due to clearing out the cruft from an old XP system, the rest because Windows 7 works so well.

With that the Dell Dimension 4600 runs great with Windows 7!


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Thank you!
by TaraS_WinTeam / January 8, 2010 8:24 AM PST
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Dimension 4600/Windows 7 Drivers
by amkfoo / January 10, 2010 10:20 PM PST

Hello, I also have a Dimension 4600 and would like to run Windows 7. Can you please re-post the link for the graphics card driver?

Thank you

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by jeff_windows_team / January 11, 2010 12:54 AM PST

Dell should have it on their website...

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Dimension 4600/Windows 7 Drivers
by amkfoo / January 11, 2010 1:16 AM PST
In reply to: driver

I cannot seem to find the right driver to work

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Broken link
by amkfoo / January 11, 2010 4:30 AM PST

Hello, I also have a Dimension 4600 and would like to run Windows 7. Can you please re-post the link for the graphics card driver?

Thank you

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I did some searching
by lacsr / January 11, 2010 8:24 AM PST
In reply to: Broken link

Look here:

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No audio after upgrading a Dell 4600 to Windows 7
by anthony10150 / January 11, 2010 1:24 PM PST

I had no troubles upgrading to Windows 7 and overall things are running smoothly. However, I find that I no longer have audio. It was my understanding that there were no compatibility issues in such an upgrade; and when I check the status of the audio drivers, it shows that it's functioning properly. Dell's website does not have an audio driver for Windows 7. Does anyone have a perspective on how I can work around this?


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by jeff_windows_team / January 12, 2010 3:09 AM PST

1st: Try the Vista driver if available.

For the future- be sure to post a new topic instead of asking a question on the end of someone else's thread. It works out better for everyone that way.

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by bazzaf / April 1, 2010 7:57 AM PDT

This is a brilliant piece of advice! A wonderful step-by-step solution to fixing screen resolution, which I could never have figured out for myself. All the other fixes I could find on the internet for inability to change screen resolution involved spending money on a new graphics card. At least this allows screen viewing at normal resolution and I can think about upgrading the hardware at my leisure.

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Upgrading Dimension 4600 to Windows 7

Wish I would have read your post before upgrading. When I upgrading I did not change the setting of the partition so now half of my hard-drive is for recovering Windows XP. Do you know how I can get rid of that partition? BTW-I did exactly what you recommended and now the graphics look great. Thanks much.

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by milton9412 / March 9, 2011 3:57 PM PST

Went thru the precess several times until I got the fix to work. Just have to be patient a let the computer do its work.

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by TunzBrock / March 3, 2012 1:29 PM PST

I have been working on this problem for the same machine for a week. With your help I fixed it in 5 minutes. Thanks

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Dell dimension 4600 Windows 7 multi media controller driver
by rosemeadow58 / September 25, 2012 4:10 PM PDT

Can anyone tell me how to get the multimedia audio controller driver for windows 7 for a dell dimension 4600 Everything is running great but have no sond have tried many drivers and still nothing About to pull my hair out as i can't seem to find the right driver

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Windows 7 on a Dell Dimension 4600 is a good combination

The update to Windows 7 (32 bit) went very smoothly for me on an IDE hard drive; and upgrading the video card from the GeForce FX 5200 to a GeForce 6200 resulted in a very capable machine.

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