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Windows 7 on the Dell Optiplex GX260 PC PDF Print E-mail
Written by Tim Wray   
Friday, 15 January 2010 14:56

Every so often, some of us decide to try things that others might not try. If anything, we try it simply because someone else hasn't done it. That's how I often view trying to put an operating system onto a computer that is likely far too dated to actually run it.

That being said, this article is about the adventure of installing Windows 7 Enterprise on a Dell PC that, according to Dell's warranty status lookup on their support site, was shipped July 9th, 2003.

Here are the specifications of the victim:

  • Model: Dell Optiplex GX260 Desktop
  • Processor: Pentium 4, 2.4GHz, 512k Cache
  • Bus Speed: 533MHz
  • RAM: 512MB DDR, 266 MHz speed
  • Video Adapter: nVidia GEForce 6200-based, PCI, 256MB Video Memory
  • Seagate 80GB hard drive
  • Intel 82845-based motherboard chipset

The machine is in excellent condition for it's age, and all the specs line up with the reported original configuration from Dell's support site (found by looking up "warranty status" on the PC's service tag number), aside from the video card, which is different from the original reported ATI Raedon card the machine came equipped with.

The computer, as listed above, is based on the Intel 82845 series chipset. When Windows Vista was released in 2006, Intel stated that there would be no driver support for this chipset series for Vista. This directly affected my ability to run Vista well on the PC I had purchased new just a couple of weeks before the computer I'm covering here. It does run on my personal Dell desktop (which is still chugging along all these years later,) but it initally had terrible problems with the onboard video that is based on the chipset. After a laterĀ  upgrade to an nVidia GeForce 9000 series-based PCI graphics card, those problems went away.

Well, the install has just completed, and everything looks good, aside from needing to download the nVidia geForce 9 series drivers, which I'm doing now. The computer was still usable without the graphics drivers (unlike my experience on the 82845 chipset in the past, where Vista loaded up in 16-color mode. That just doesn't fly nowadays. At all.) The screen came up in 1024x768/true color.

After some time of running the machine, getting all the software setup on it, etc, it did seem a bit sluggish, but not terribly so. I dug through the spare parts closet and came up with another 256MB of RAM for it, getting it up to 768MB of RAM. After restart, the system's initial Windows Experience Index rating of 2.7 did not improve, but the Aero graphics did begin to function. (They hadn't been working at all with 512MB of memory.)

So, an older workstation running 7 is not only a possibility, it is a feasible one. This machine runs Office 2007, an SQL-heavy shop control application, and similar programs decently without much lag. Startup is average, not crazy fast, but not slow enough to make you (too) angry.

I am deploying this machine in a live environment shortly and will report an update in the future as to how it has held up over a considerable amount of time. As long as that old cursed Optiplex power supply doesn't fry itself.