Dell Dimension Processor Upgrade FAQ

compiled by Robert Hancock

This page discusses information related to upgrading the processor on a Dell Dimension machine.

Note (January 2007): Some of the info on this site is probably a bit out of date at this point. I expect it will still be useful to owners of these systems, but keep this in mind.

This information is derived from postings in the DellTalk Upgrade - Hardware forum from users who have performed these upgrades, and from information and data sheets available on the web. These upgrades are not supported by Dell or Intel, and neither them nor myself or anybody else but you is responsible if you damage anything while trying to do this. While I have taken care to ensure all information on these pages is correct, I cannot be responsible for any inaccuracies.

Help support this site: I've joined up with the Crucial Technology affiliate program. If you want to order memory from Crucial and support this site at the same time, please click on the link below to get to the Crucial site and place your order. Then I will get about a 7% commission from your purchase (it won't cost you anything extra).

Case Closed

I think Crucial is about the best place to get memory online (or probably anywhere), and no, I'm not just saying that because I get money if you buy from them :-)

Other pages on this site:

General information on CPU heatsinks, fans, and fan noise.  This is a page I put together to discuss some issues relating to CPU cooling. Includes some comparative sound clips of a few different types of fans..

Review of the Powerleap PL-iP3/T version 2.0 and Celeron 1.4 GHz upgrade package. This is one attractive upgrade option for owners of many Slot 1 processor Dell machines. This is a new mini-review covering the changes from the previous upgrade package(s), as covered in my previous review below, as well as some new benchmark results.

Original review of the Powerleap PL-iP3/T and Celeron 1.2 GHz package.

Notes on upgrading hard drives on Dell machines.

Notes on upgrading the memory for Dell machines.

Information on the pinout of the front panel controls connector on Dell cases.

Step-by-step pictures of an upgrade of a Dimension XPS T700r to a 1 GHz processor (thanks Frank Hearth).

Another general guide/analysis of the options available for Dell CPU upgrades, especially T and R series (thanks to Etherdude from DellTalk).


Powerleap Canada - allows Canadian customers to order Powerleap products from a Canadian source and avoid customs hassles. (New!)

German-language info on upgrading a Dimension B600r machine, with benchmarks. (New!)

Information and pictures on adding or upgrading a CPU in a Dell PowerEdge 1400SC server.

Bob Matthews' Powerleap PL-iP3/T review, including installation pictures.

Description of an L___c system upgrade using a Powerleap Neo S370, with pictures. (Original pictures by Michael Walters.)

Step-by-step pictures of an XPS R-series upgrade with a Slot 1 CPU (thanks Philip Hess).

Pictures of an XPS R-series upgrade with an FC-PGA CPU and an Iwill Slocket II, on this Japanese site. All the text is in Japanese, but there are pictures of the jumper settings on the slocket, the slocket and CPU installed in the system, and the BIOS display after the upgrade.

Bob Matthews' "DellTalker's Links Galore" page.

Information on upgrading Dell OptiPlex GXa, GX1, NX1, GX1P, and G1 systems. Upgrading the GXa appears similar to the Dimension D-series, while the others appear similar to the Dimension T-series as far as upgrading is concerned. However, it seems that the Optiplex GX1 machines will not run with Coppermine CPUs with BIOS versions later than A07 installed, as they deliberately prevent them from functioning, so you have to use BIOS A07 or earlier.

Info on repartitioning and reformatting your hard drive (including using multiple partitions), and doing a clean install of Windows. Thanks Darrell Krumwied.

The table below summarizes the important characteristics of these systems. The links under System Type will take you to specific upgrade info for that system, if there is any. Below you will find some general upgrade info applicable to all systems. Read this page first, then read the page applicable to your system, and then maybe read the XPS R page as well, before attempting an upgrade.

Note that since the XPS R upgrade description was the original one on this site, some more comprehensive info is in that section that is applicable to other systems as well - in particular information about overclocking Celeron processors.

Pentium 4 Systems

System Model System Chipset Processor/Socket Type (original) Upgradability RAM Type
4300/4300S Intel 845 Socket 478 (Willamette/Northwood) Socket 478 - Willamette, Northwood(?), 400 MHz bus PC133 SDRAM
4400 Intel 845D Socket 478 (Willamette/Northwood) Socket 478 - Willamette, Northwood, 400 MHz bus PC2100 DDR SDRAM
4500/4500C/4500S Intel 845D Socket 478 (Willamette/Northwood) Socket 478 - Willamette, Northwood, 400 or 533 MHz bus PC2100 DDR SDRAM
8100 Intel 850 Socket 423 (Willamette) Socket 423 - Willamette (400 MHz bus)

With Powerleap PL-P4/N adapter: Socket 478 - Willamette, Northwood (400 MHz bus)

PC800 RDRAM (dual-channel)
8200 Intel 850/850E Socket 478 (Willamette/Northwood) Socket 478 - Willamette, Northwood, 400 MHz bus, 533 MHz bus (some) PC800 RDRAM (dual-channel)

Requires 40ns memory (not 45ns) when using 533 MHz bus

Some brief notes regarding the above:

Willamette: Original Pentium 4 CPU core type, made on 0.18 micron process. L2 cache size: 256K.Available with 400 MHz bus speed only. Available in both the older Socket 423 and Socket 478 versions. Powerleap has an adapter, the PL-P4/W, designed to allow using a Socket 478 Willamette chip in a Socket 423 motherboard.

Northwood: Newer Pentium 4 CPU core type, made on 0.13 micron process. L2 cache size: 512K. Available in both 400 and 533 MHz bus versions (the 533 MHz bus CPUs require that the motherboard support this faster speed - for Dells, only the 4500 and some 8200 machines do). Available only in Socket 478.

The Powerleap PL-P4/W adapter does not allow using a Northwood CPU in a Willamette-only motherboard as in the 8100. However, the newer PL-P4/N adapter does, and it seems to work fine in the 8100 machines with a Northwood CPU.

Other Systems

System Model Intel Motherboard Based Upon Processor Package Type Pentium III Upgradeability Celeron Upgradability Front Side Bus Overclockable Through Software RAM Type
2200 ? FC-PGA (Tualatin) ? Any (including Tualatin-core) ? PC100 SDRAM


System Board Layout


Slot 1

Any speed should work2
Must be 100 MHz bus speed

Any should work2




System Board Layout


Slot 1

None, supports Pentium IIs up to 333 MHz

533 MHz (not 533A) and below. Slocket with regulator required for proper voltage on faster Celerons. See page for details.

Yes (to ~72 MHz)

PC66 / PC1001 SDRAM


System Board Layout

(or BX-3?)

Slot 1

Any speed should work2
Must be 100 MHz bus speed

Any should work2

Yes (to 103 or 124 MHz)



System Board Layout

AR440BX (apparently OEM-only board)

Slot 1

Any speed should work2
Must be 100 MHz bus speed
See page for details

Any should work2


L___c-series and L___cxe (?)

System Board Layout

CA810 Socket 370 (PPGA/FC-PGA) May or may not work, see page for details
Must be 100 MHz bus speed
PPGA should work, FC-PGA may or may not work (see page for details) ? PC100 SDRAM
L___r, L___cx and 2100

System Board Layout

CA810E Socket 370 (FC-PGA) Any speed should work2 Any speed should work2 ? PC100 SDRAM
4100 and 4200

System Board Layout

D815EEA (?) Socket 370 (FC-PGA) Any speed should work2 Any speed should work2 ? PC133 SDRAM

System Board Layout

VC820 Slot 1 (Bxxxr)
Any speed should work2 Will not work (no 66 MHz FSB support) No RAMBUS RIMMs

System Board Layout

PD440FX (?) Slot 1 None, supports Pentium IIs up to 333 MHz with proper jumper settings May work, but cache may not be enabled properly - see page for more info ? 60ns EDO SIMMs, in pairs

1PC100 memory on D-series requires BIOS version A09 to be installed.
2Tualatin-core Pentium III/Celeron CPUs require special adapter to work (i.e. Powerleap PL-iP3/T for Slot 1 systems, or Powerleap Neo S370/T for Socket 370 systems). Neo S370/T seems to have some problems on Dell machines. Pentium 4-based Celerons at 1.7 GHz and higher will not work on older systems.

Other Upgrade Information:

This section has been broken up into multiple pages to reduce bandwidth usage.

General Upgrade Information

Installing your new CPU upgrade (including slocket adapter information)

Troubleshooting problems with the upgrade

Other miscellaneous questions

Other Dell-related upgrade information

If you have any additions, corrections or suggestions to make for this FAQ, please email them to me at [email protected] and I'll try to include them as soon as possible.

Note: If you are asking for upgrade help, I would prefer if you post your question to DellTalk in the Upgrade - Hardware forum instead of emailing, that way other people can respond if I don't have time, and others who may have the same question can see the answer so that they don't have to ask as well.

If you are emailing me regarding a DellTalk posting of yours, please include the text of your posting in your email, or at least your DellTalk user ID and your message title. Otherwise I may not be able to locate your original message to see what you are talking about.

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