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Old 03-23-2020, 07:23 PM   #775
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Arrow Dell OptiPlex 170L – Still My “Main” PC

Originally Posted by momaka
Let's see if we can keep pushing our Pentium 4 PCs until 2020 - that would be sweet!
Well, folks, this “suggestion” (seen here) by me turned out to be true – at least for myself. Here we are in 2020 (with almost a 3rd of it gone, actually) and I’m still pushing an old socket 478 Pentium 4 in my “main” PC. I’ve had this PC in service as a main rig since 2013, yet never made a post about it here nor posted pictures. So here comes that…

I suppose this will probably be one of the dullest and most boring PCs you’ll seen in this thread, because it’s more or less a nearly bone-stock Dell OptiPlex 170L “mini-tower” office PC.


What did I tell you – boooooring!

But this thing has been an absolute workhorse. I saved it from getting scrapped / junked around the end of 2012 through a co-worker, who picked up 2-3 of these from another friend of his, but said he didn’t need this many and was wondering what to do with them. All of these PCs were doing front desk / office duty for a local park authority, from what I was told, IIRC. I picked up two that he didn’t want. They were extremely dusty and came with only 40 GB Western Digital HDDs. I cleaned up one and gave it to close family friends of ours, who before that had only an old AMD Athlon 1.2 GHz desktop that was extremely slow. This was also quite outdated when I gave it to them (end of 2012 or thereabouts), but loads better than what they had – especially with a clean Windows XP SP2 install.

The other one of these Dell PCs, I kept for myself as I was about to start college again in a different university a little further from home, and wanted to have a nice reliable PC to do [home]work on. This OptiPlex 170L did exactly that – has been 100% reliable and solid!!! I set it up in my college apartment at the beginning of 2013 and used it until I graduated in 2015. Then I moved back at my parent’s place and continued using it as a main PC. At first, I thought I’d only used it for a year or two more, as I had many other PC builds planned. But day after day passed while I still planned and experimented with these other PC builds / parts… until here we are in 2020, and I’m still pushing this thing as a “daily driver”. Amazing how much an old machine like this can do, at least in regards to mundane tasks like email duty, online shopping, and word processing (well, when it comes to emails, most modern providers will bog it down unless switched to HTML or more friendly and compatible view.) Back when I set it up, I also used it a ton for YouTube (in the days when Flash was still a thing, that PC could easily do 720p), along with a few early 2000’s or older games (whatever could run on the on-board IGP.)

The specs of this Dell OptiPlex 170L:
CPU: Intel Pentium 4 Prescott HT 2.8 GHz (800 MHz FSB), socket 478
RAM: 1280 MB DDR PC3200 @ 400 MHz single channel ( 1 GB + 256 MB ) --> now upgraded to 2 GB as of this writing.
Video: on-board Intel Extreme Graphics 2 through motherboard i865 chipset
HDD: single 80 GB Samsung Spinpoint SP0802N (7200 RPM, 3.5”, PATA / IDE)
Optical: Hitachi-LG Data Storage (HL-DT-ST) GCC-4482b CD-RW / DVD-ROM
PSU: HiPro / Chicony HP-P2507FPW rev-A01, 250 Watt ATX with original Teapo caps
OS: Windows XP Professional SP2 32-bit (OEM COA on case) with select patches

System screenshots:

I know … It’s embarrassing POSTing this PC in this day and age. At the same time, I’m still amazed a PC like this can still manage to be somewhat useful today (granted with a tad of patience, given how slow some websites can be.) That being said, I was really ready to retire it when did the server upgrade in February and my Opera 12 stopped working due to not having the latest / last release of Opera 12. But after getting that squared out (thanks to hints from members’ suggestions here), I’ve decided to push using this PC a bit longer again – at least until I decide what to upgrade to next.

In the mean time, I’ve increased the RAM to the maximum this OptiPlex 170L can take: 2 GB of DDR PC3200. Now I can run FireFox 52 ESR (or newer) and not run out of RAM like I did before with the 1.25 GB. The next (and possibly last) upgrade I have planned is to add a PCI video card that is better than the onboard. For this, I have a PNY GeForce 8400 GS PCI with 512 MB DDR2. It’s quite a weak video card by 2020 standards too, but many times better than the on-board i865 / Intel Extreme Graphics 2. At least the 8400 GS offers H.264 hardware decoding / encoding, so it might actually off-load the CPU for online video watching / browsing. Once that is done, I don’t think there will be anything else worth upgrading on this PC. I actually also have two 3.2 GHz Pentium 4 Prescott HT CPUs here. But I will have to check what TDP they have as I’d rather keep the thermals the same. Might not be worth it for the extra 400 MHz, which probably won’t make a difference on a CPU that old (especially the P4 dinosaur architecture.) Another possible upgrade I’ve been thinking about (for fun, at least) is add in / solder the missing AGP slot (have one from a scrapped Dell OptiPlex 260 board) – probably won’t ever happen though.

Anyways, this post was made not so much to show off this PC, but more as a tribute. It’s served me well, so I think it deserves an honorable mention here.
And will continue serving me until I come up with another machine that I feel is equally reliable.

Last edited by momaka; 03-23-2020 at 07:30 PM..
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