What's Inside?


I have an older Dell with an Intel Pentium 4 CPU. As you know, it’s not easy to track down specific hardware configurations for old Dell machines. Can you direct me to a source for info so I can find out if it’s even possible to get an updated BIOS and/or a better CPU for my PC?

—Tom Winn

Tom, there are several nifty utilities that let you find out exactly what hardware is running on your system. Our favorites are CPUID’s PC-Wizard and Piriform’s Speccy . Both will let you know what processor, chipset, and motherboard are in your system. That’s the easy part, though. Intel used the same LGA775 socket through many generations of CPUs—but unlike AMD, didn’t appear to give a damn about compatibility. There are enough iterations of chipsets and front-side bus versions to impact your upgrade that it would take an entire feature article just to explain which chipset works with which CPU. In other words: Never ever assume that an LGA775 CPU will work in your board because it’s an LGA775 board. The best way to proceed is to find out what chipset, motherboard, and BIOS you have. Then check the vendor’s website for the mobo’s compatibility list, and cruise the forums looking for experiences from other people who have successfully upgraded those boards.

Programs like Speccy will show you exactly what hardware is in your PC, down to CPU stepping and revision numbers.

SUBMIT YOUR QUESTION Are flames shooting out of the back of your rig? First, grab a fire extinguisher and douse the flames. Once the pyrotechnic display has fizzled, email the doctor at doctor@maximumpc.com for advice on how to solve your technological woes.

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