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Dell T3500 Budget Build

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stompah

Deep Pain Senior Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2001
Dell T3500 Budget Build / Update 6/28/19 - $92 gaming rig

Hey guys,

So about a month ago I picked up 3 Dell T3500 Workstations for $20 a piece. 1 to tinker with, 1 for a basic PC for my 8 year old and the other for parts. So far I have only opened one up. Specs on all 3 are W3550 (with the better heatpipe cooler), 1gb RAM, cheapest GPU, no storage.

So I hopped on Ebay and picked up 3x2gb Nanya DDR3 (nonECC) & 2 Xeon X5650s. $10.50 for the RAM and $10.75 for each CPU.


RAM:

Is delivered and installed. Ran Memtest overnight and got no errors. Currently running Prime95 and no errors either.


CPU:

Isn't here yet. So I applied some new thermal paste and added an 80mm fan to the heatsink. Using my finger as a temp probe running Memtest I could barely hold my finger anywhere on the copper plate or tubing. Once I set the fan on the heatsink its about room temperature. I just used a few zip ties to secure it since there isn't a mount for the fan on the cooler. This PC relies on the front fan to cool the CPU.

Temps running Prime is 74c max & has settled in at 70c. I currently have the fan running at 12v but I can hear it. In the future I will undervolt it to see where it becomes it's quietest.


GPU:

I am not sure where I am going with this. The GPU in the tinker rig is the stout ATI x1300. Only good thing about this thing is it's fanless so its one less fan to produce noise.

My Main PC's GPU died while in storage so I am using my backup GT730 in that. I need to figure out GPUs for both of these systems now.

Storage/OS:

First I booted with Puppy Linux to test the Wifi. After that was a no-go I strapped in a 500gb Samsung SSD to install Win7. This is only temporary.

I am thinking creating bootable Win7 and Linux USB thumbdrives. This way whenever I want to switch OSs all I have to do is pull, insert other drive and restart. Of course, easier said than done.



MISC:

I noted that the Northbridge ran extremely hot. Like, get out your pan we're cooking eggs on it hot. So I screwed a 4pin stock AMD cooler fan to it. I have it sucking from the Northbridge. Being a 4pin Fan it stayed at max speed and was pretty loud. I quieted it by pulling the red/black pins from the plug and putting them in the Molex connector to run at 7v (if memory serves thats the voltage it should be at.) That is quiet and cool now.

While digging for fans I found and old Airlink wireless card and no name USB card (both PCI.) Puppy Linux recognized both the Airlink card was too old to connect to my network. Windows 7 is throwing fits about the USB card and won't even let the Airlink card search for networks. Now that I have WiFi I am going to try to update the USB card or try it in my win10 rig and see if it works there. The Airlink card is junk, I doubt anyone would downgrade their network security to save a $15 card.



That's pretty much it for now. Below are a few pics for your enjoyment.
 

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OP
stompah

stompah

Deep Pain Senior Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2001
So, got the X5650. Installed it no problem. Ran Cinebench and was 1.5 times faster than the W3550 at about 10-14c cooler. I've noticed that I am not getting the full 3.06Ghz. I rerun Cinebench and the score was a bit lower. Second run was at 667 @ 2.9Ghz and third run was at 634 @2.66Ghz. Temps are decent. High 40s, rarely bumping up to 50c. Any ideas?

BTW I did use Throttlestop. I was hoping it would allow me to lock it at the 23x multiplier. It didn't and I've turned it off but no luck.
 

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OP
stompah

stompah

Deep Pain Senior Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2001
Update for you guys. So I built a mild gaming rig for $91. With this setup I am able to play Fortnite at EPIC settings at just over 60fps. Granted Fortnite can run on an abacus. Installed Grid 2 maxed settings and no stutters. I haven't installed any more games yet, but I am stoked at what I got for the money. I see more value in this setup so far for $91 than I do for the $100+ I paid for just my rx570.

Specs, Source & Cost:

T3500 $20 - Craigslist. Came with Xeon 4core W3550, 1g RAM, no HHD, junk video card.
Xeon X5650 $11 - eBay. Yes, I could have kept the W3550. But, you know two more cores and stuffs.
Kingston RAM 12gigs $25 - eBay. ECC & unbuffered 3 sticks for that 3 channel sweetness.
Gigabyte R9 270 $15 - Craigslist. Huge risk here. An R9 270 for $15, something has to be fishy here. Nope, works perfectly so far.
Unirex 240gig SSD $20 - Fry's. Not too sure of its quality. But comes with a 5-year warranty.
Windows 10 $0 - Currently unregistered. I will probably hop on eBay and buy a key for $3. If Fortnite would work on Linux I'd just go that route.

Yes, I know it won't run a 2019 game at max settings. But it doesn't need to. I currently don't have an HTPC anymore, so I will probably put this monstrosity in my living room. There I will use it to play games rather than sitting down at my main PC.

I do want to source a T5500 PSU its 875w. Unfortunately, they are priced cheaply. One of those costs more than half as much as my whole set up!
 
OP
stompah

stompah

Deep Pain Senior Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2001
...but you live one mile away from Fry's.

Fry's has not been worth going to lately. I should probably change that to something more exciting. Like I live 1 mile away from a liquor store or 1 mile away from Menchie's Yogurt.