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Upgrading a Dell Computer

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011 by | Filed Under: Hardware & Peripherals, System Tune-Up Help

Andrew from South Africa asks:

I need to update my PC processor. I have an old Dell Dimension 4600 Pentium 4 2.66GHz-1.5GB RAM-AGP card slot. Can I just buy a better/faster processor like a Duo or quad core or something for my PC?

First, you’ll need to find out how many pins your processor has. You won’t be able to purchase just any old processor and plug it into your computer if the pins don’t match up. The Dell Dimension 4600 uses a Socket 478 processor. Since this type of processor is no longer being produced, finding a new one might be rather difficult. They also might be expensive. However, you may be able to locate a suitable processor on eBay.

The Dell Dimension 4600 is supposed to be able to support up to as much as a 3.4 GHz Pentium 4 with an 800 MHz FSB. Of course, the max limit will depend on which type of Dimension 4600 you own. Since you currently have a 2.66 GHz in the computer, you should be able to upgrade to a microprocessor that runs at 2.8 – 3.06 GHz internally and 533 MHz externally.

Due to the age of the Dell Dimension 4600, it may be less expensive to purchase a computer, rather than investing a lot of money into upgrading your current system. However, if you are serious about keeping the Dimension 4600 and doing some upgrading, then you will be better off to change out a few components.

If you are big into games, then purchasing a new video card will greatly improve the graphics. You’ll also want to upgrade the power supply and get more memory. The max AGP card that the Dimension 4600 will accept is a 7600 GT. However, the Nvidia GeForce 6200 works perfect for the Dimension 4600, since this computer only has a 250 W power supply. This is ideal if you don’t want to upgrade your power supply as well.

As for upgrading to a duo core, the Intel Celeron Processor T1600 will work in the Dimension 4600. You can find the specs on it here.

If you would rather upgrade to a quad core, then the specs for the Intel Core 2 Quad Processor Q9000 can be found here.

It’s best to consult the service manual that came with your computer for proper removal and installation of new computer parts. If you cannot locate your service manual, then go to this link and view the online manual for the Dell Dimension 4600. The images below were found in that manual.

Installing 3 or 4 memory modules that are 1GB each and made for the Dell Dimension 4600 will greatly speed up your computer and this installation is very easy to do. This might even be the best way to keep from spending a lot of money on upgrading your computer as well. You can refer to the link for the online manual that is posted above or follow the steps listed below:

Step 1 – Shut your computer down and unplug it

Step 2 – Lay the tower on its side with the cover facing upward.

Step 3 – Locate the latch on the back portion of the tower and slide it to release the cover


Step 4 – Grasp the indentations on either side of the cover and slide towards the back of the tower


Step 5 – Locate the current memory cards on the system board that is located on the bottom of the tower as you peer into it, since it should still be lying on its side


Step 6 – Remove a memory module by pressing the securing clips outward. There is a clip located on each end of the memory connector. Once released from the clips, the module can be grasped and pulled upward. You don’t want to place an original memory module in DIMM1 and pair it with a new memory module that is inserted into DIMM2, or vice versus. Memory modules that are to go together should be inserted into the DIMM1 and DIMM2 connectors or the DIMM3 and DIMM4 connectors.


Step 7 – Gently insert the new module by lining up the notch located on the underside of the module with the crossbar on the connector

Step 8 – Press the module straight down to make sure it is secure in the connector. You should here a click as the notch and crossbar line up

Step 9 – Secure the clips at both ends of the connector

Step 10 – Replace the computer cover

Step 11 – Reconnect all cables and turn your computer on

Step 12 – Once the computer has come on, click the Start button and then right click on My Computer

Step 13 – Click on Properties and then the tab labeled General. From here you should be able to check to see the amount of memory listed. This will let you know if the memory modules have been installed correctly. You should also be able to access this information by holding the Windows key and pressing the pause key (Win+Pause)

While the steps are many, the benefits of adding memory modules to your Dell Dimension 4600 are great.

~H.A. Bryan

One Response to “Upgrading a Dell Computer”

  1. bill downes says:

    The BEST instructional I’ve seen on WS in years!!

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