Remember me mentioning my computer issues?

KGIII

Super Moderator
Staff member
Gold Supporter
Joined
Jul 23, 2020
Messages
11,947
Reaction score
10,536
Credits
98,789
The short story: Two desktop computers decided to fail in some way in a single day.

My statement was that I'd looked at dirt-cheap refurbs because my computational needs are not great these days. I said I'd try one.

I gave myself $100 budget just to play the game. Man, NewEgg has some sweat deals on new hardware, but I stuck to my guns. Well, not counting sales tax - and not needing anything besides the desktop itself and no additional hardware.

It took me about 15 minutes to swap my SSD into the Dell 7040 and that included looking around the case a bit. It has an M.2 slot which I'll take advantage of, but I'm not motivated to do this today.

I am astonished at what $100 will buy these days. The computer is pretty old but still does what I need it to do - so far as I can tell. If it lasts three or four years, I'm more than happy. I'll cheat and add the M.2 and I'll bump the RAM up to 64 GBs. In fact, it's DDR4, so I should have some kicking around somewhere. Sadly, the seller loaded all four banks (yes, four banks in a SFF computer) with 4 GB sticks.

Also, I love tool-less cases - except the opening and closing of the cover. Make it simple and just put thumb screws in there! Like five of those minutes was putting the cover back on.

(I did have to muck about the system settings, because this install is one done in UEFI.)
 


Make it simple and just put thumb screws in there!
I always used thumb screws when I used to build and maintain my own,, and Yes the first time I crawled inside the HP desktop I now use, I swapped out the posi drive screws for thumb screws.
 
I always used thumb screws when I used to build and maintain my own,, and Yes the first time I crawled inside the HP desktop I now use, I swapped out the posi drive screws for thumb screws.

This <redacted>-case doesn't have any screws. It has <redacted>-tabs and <redacted>-snaps and was designed by some engineer who thought he was making life easy for people but was doing the exact opposite.

Inside the case, there are no directions, of course. You have to pull the front of the case off (which is fine, it's an SFF case so some concessions are to be had) just to get underneath the drive bay and get to the RAM (and M.2 slot). It's a weird contraption that then requires you to figure out that you have to slide an unlabeled bit of plastic to unlock it, where you then have to open it the exact right way or it just rattles like it's stuck.

Putting the case cover back on was a giant pain in the rear end. There are hidden tabs that bent just enough to not fit and then bent every time I tried to put it on. I finally managed to wedge everything together and popped it back into place.

It shouldn't take me 15 minutes to swap an SSD, look at the RAM slots, and put the cover back on.

It's like a puzzle just to figure out how to find the RAM.

Again, I can understand the configuration requirements. That's a lot to fit in a small place. Still, for an additional $0.03 per unit, they could have put in some directions and figured out a better way to open and close the case. The metal is not like the old cases. It's this thin stuff that bends remarkably easily.

I can really close to just saying to heck with the cover. My other option was to take it outside and set it on fire, but I managed to get it closed before the breaking point.

Other than that, I'm pretty happy with it. I do love Linux. Being able to just move the SSD around from computer to computer is pretty handy! You can't do that with Windows!

This is what I picked for my mere $100 expenditure:


I'm actually quite impressed with what $100 will buy you these days. Other than the idiotic door on the case, it's rather amazing what you can get for cheap.

I think I'm still going to buy another new computer, but this little box is kinda impressive for the price.
 
They are simple like my HP, make sure there are no security screws along the top back flange of the top cover if so remove.you release the top cover by moving the plastic locking tab at the back, then remove the front cover, this gives access to the HD tray, there should be something like a plastic ring-pull to release the HD carrier lock , then lift the carrier from the ring pull end and pull slightly to release the locating tabs, if its like my HP be careful the leads may be short and need unplugging, under the HD carrier should be the Ram slots
 
It's not very intuitive.
No if you have not done a SFF one before. But they are all similar whatever brand, and I do have the advantage of having worked on most case types over the years of repairing/upgrading for friends and family, you just have to be a bit more careful as everything is crammed in. oh check the ram carefully, SFF boxes most often have low voltage [to reduce heat], and low profile [due to lack of height] ram

Addendum
If you have a DVD player that will need to be removed before you can take the HDD carrier out it is only held in by a plastic clip at the back
 
Last edited:
No if you have not done a SFF one before.

It has room for full-size RAM and this is my first SFF but not my first tool-less case. Getting the cover off was trivial. Putting it back on was less so. I believe I need half-height PCI cards, but I won't be installing any - unless I'm unhappy with the M.2 speeds and would get higher speeds by using the 16x PCIe slot. If I'd get higher speeds that way, I'll just get a small riser card.

Frankly, I usually buy new and don't normally even need to open the case. This time around, I had some failure issues. The tabs bent easily on the cover. The metal is so weak that I can bend them by hand. Well, I am a well-practiced guitar player - so I may have an advantage there.

There's no DVD player in this one. There's a bay for it. It'd come up with the front piece, all in one large unit. The video is pretty clear. I probably should have watched it first. It's hardly intuitive, though swapping the SSD didn't really require that, I wanted to check the RAM and that was the only place it could have been hiding. I'll have to order some DDR4 RAM and max it out. I can live with 16 GB, but that's rather limiting.

I won't bother with a graphics card. I will put an M.2 SSD in it. I'll order one and set it aside until I'm well and truly motivated to do so. I'll then clone the SSD and dump it onto the M.2, change the boot configuration, and destroy the current SSD. I figure a 'good' graphics card will require more power than that minimally powered power supply has to offer. I don't have high-graphics needs. An on-board GPU is enough for me, even with the game I've been playing.

For $100, I'm pretty impressed. I'll likely still buy a new PC, hopeful that it'll last a half dozen years. I do not expect this computer to last that long. It's old and was used in a business. I'll have it powered on 24/7. The longevity is in question and something I'm curious about.
 
Also, I have no idea why I said there was no DVD drive. There is. The one it replaced had no optical drive, though it had space for additional drives. I have no idea if the DVD drive works, but I assume it does. I don't really use optical media these days.

All that extra space isn't something we get in a SFF. Ah well...

The more I think about it, the more easy it is to talk myself out of buying a brand new high-end device. This $100 computer is rather impressive and my actual computational needs are not all that high. It runs browsers with a zillion open tabs just fine. DDR4 is rather efficient RAM. The device directly replaced with this had DDR4 RAM. (My 'big' desktop and laptops have DDR5 as I recall.) I remember the upgrade from DDR3.

I might just become a refurbished computer advocate. It did take some filtering on NewEgg to find the right deal, but that took less than 20 minutes from search to order completion. It was the best in the price range, so I got it. A slightly more expensive model had an M.2, but it was tiny. I can put a 1 TB M.2 SSD in for under $50. I am seeing conflicting information. RAM might max out at 32 GB or 64 GB. By upgrading, I can end up with a pretty solid computer for $250, less if it only takes 32 GB of RAM.
 
Your box looks pretty much identical to my primary box, which is a dell optiplex 7050.

I went to a local swapmeet & purchased my refurbished box there, a m2 (toshiba KSG60ZMV) already added, alas no keyboard/mouse for me. My price being closer to $400, but that's local aussie dollars + m2 included.

Whilst the box had the capacity to connect 3 displays as it was, I still added my old video card from my prior (dead) desktop box to achieve 2 more (this box is a lot smaller but the card fit).

The box when running is reliable, though I'm pretty sure I'll be replacing this boxes PSU in due course (it can take me multiple goes to get it turned on, can die whilst suspended, etc, alas warranty was much shorter on mine than your purchase).

My box does everything I've asked of it though.
 
My box does everything I've asked of it though.

I really think I could become a 'refurbished computer advocate'. It's absolutely insane what $100 will buy.

Then, I don't have a lot of need for 'high computation'. At most, I might compile something. If I want to watch a video, the device is very capable. I don't need a GPU for it.

I'm firmly in the HDMI camp, so I'd have to get adapters, but the device can run three monitors at the same time. For $100!

Mine has no M.2 but you can get them dirt cheap. I've been using TeamGroup stuff for a while now. I initially bought one of their SSDs as a lark, figuring it'd suck because of the price. Nope... It's still going strong. I've purchased a few since and almost every thumb drive I own is from them.

I'll be replacing this boxes PSU

Good luck with that. I've owned Dell devices before and this one looks no different. I also watched a video where someone went to upgrade one of these.

Dell uses proprietary PSUs. In the instance I saw, the dude had to drill a hole in his case. Though, really, that looked pretty simple and he didn't even get it located properly. Still, that's what he needed to do to mount the new PSU in the case.

I do not know why Dell uses proprietary PSUs but they have for a long time.

I did just find adapters (maybe), though you seem more like an "I'm gonna drill this myself" kinda guy. See this link about their proprietary power supplies:


That's from 20 Flippin' Years Ago and they STILL use proprietary power supplies!

At $100, I will not be replacing the PSU in this computer. At that price point, it's disposable. There's a company relatively close that does proper recycling of computer bits (rather than shipping them to a 3rd world country). When it breaks, it'll go straight to them (sans RAM and SSD).

The real test will be if I can get 3 to 4 years out of it. If I can get just a few years out of it (and I don't see why I can't, as it looks immaculate) I'll be impressed. Heck, instead of paying $3,000 for a new computer, I can buy 30 of these and be just fine!

I read a bunch of reviews and whatnot. It appears as though I should expect some long-term use. That has me being optimistic. I might just start suggesting folks buy a cheap refurbished device to try Linux.

I took my truck out the other day. I filled it up with fuel. I spent more on that tank of fuel than I spent on this computer. I swear, I'll try quitting again soon, but I spent more than that on cigars for the past three days. Last week, I donated multiples of that to the volunteer fire department so that they could clean chimneys for the less fortunate.

Heck, in the 90s I spent almost $1000 buying a CD burner. (About three months later the price was half of that.) I'm amazed at what $100 will buy.

(I'll stop gushing about it soon.)
 
'm firmly in the HDMI camp, so I'd have to get adapters, but the device can run three monitors at the same time. For $100!

My monitors are much older; I required DVI or VGA (and wanted DVI), but the guy I purchased it threw in a convertor that let me use my existing DVI screens keeping me happy.

At the swapmeets there are usually a number of boxes of PSUs taken from recycled machines at $5 each. Doesn't mean you'll find one, after all my prior dell optiplex 960 is still without a fitting PSU, as I'd have used that in my QA testing if I found one; the size/shape of them the largest issue in my experience.

The different wiring by Dell was only done for a few years, the flak from corporate owners (who replaced the PSU with another non-dell & had everything destroyed) using dell made them promise to not use different connectors or wiring again; but regardless I always check the colors of connectors before replacing. Alas Dell isn't the same company it was in my opinion, now mostly just a brand put on chinese made PCs.

I volunteered at a recycler (Computer Bank) that sold refurbished boxes with Ubuntu (now Linux Mint), so they'd likely had one if needed (its just a hassle of driving in into the city when they're open).
 
I like standard ATX screw SFF for what you found out just to damn small to be practical.
I like big old roomy desktop cases where I don't need to worry about space inside.
I have a couple of SFF but if they give me any trouble with being able to work on them they may just get stomped flat and go out to the trash.
I have zero patience these days for anything that makes me irritated.
 
At the swapmeets there are usually a number of boxes of PSUs taken from recycled machines at $5 each.

Where I live, there's nothing of the sort. Sadly... It literally doesn't exist in my (localized) culture. I'm really, really remote. We do have 'lawn' and 'garage' sales but those are on private property and don't have any real tech at them from what I've seen. They're just someone selling their old junk. I don't even stop at them.

I can't even have one myself because I am (quite literally) the 2nd to last house on the road. If you go any further, it's gonna be a REALLY long walk but you'll end up in Canada. Amusingly, nobody will know you're in Canada as there are no official border crossings for miles.

Also, and I can't stress this enough, it's going to be a long walk. There is no 'good' time of the year to make that trek. You're going to be eaten by the flies (best case) or die from exposure to the cold. Cell phones don't work out back. There's nobody coming to save you unless you are smart enough to tell people where you entered the woods, where you were going, and what time you plan on returning.

The different wiring by Dell was only done for a few years, the flak from corporate owners (who replaced the PSU with another non-dell & had everything destroyed) using dell made them promise to not use different connectors or wiring again; but regardless I always check the colors of connectors before replacing.

It's not the wiring that's so far from standard. As far as I know, that's standard enough.

It's the size and mounting. You can't just bolt in a replacement because even the case is cut differently, an entirely different hole for the PSU's access. That's the kick in the jimmies that I was referring to.

You can duct tape any power supply in there if you want, but the mounting holes (probably) won't line up. That there is a Dell thing. There's the mentioned video of someone upgrading the PSU and, sure enough, they're drilling holes in the case.

I'm no expert on SFF PSUs, but it seems that hasn't changed.

I like big old roomy desktop cases where I don't need to worry about space inside.

It was irritating. I shouldn't have to bend the flimsy metal back into place to put a cover on. I don't even know how it got bent to begin with.

I do like a tool-less case. I just want it to be intuitive. In retrospect, they did put some blue on the front cover latches that made it easier for me to figure out how to remove the drive caddy.

Check the video out that I posted. I strongly suspect the dude spent quite a while figuring it out (or had prior experience). It is not intuitive at all. It's like origami or some sort of logic puzzle. I breezed through the puzzle pretty well. It was closing the case that got me riled up.

I'm too old and too mature to take it outside and shoot it.

But fire crossed my mind a couple of times.

Also, I have an SSD with Windows 10 Pro that I can put back in it if I want. I think it might even qualify for Windows 11.

I have no idea and I'll never find out, but I do have a Windows 10 Pro SSD kicking around. If I was into helping friends with their computer issues, I'd find value in that. It's a mere 128 GB so it'll probably be handed off to someone who can use it. As it's unactivated, it might just work with any hardware.
 
You can duct tape any power supply in there if you want, but the mounting holes (probably) won't line up. That there is a Dell thing. There's the mentioned video of someone upgrading the PSU and, sure enough, they're drilling holes in the case.

I personally don't think it's a dell only thing, and believe you'll find HP & Lenovo are similar if not identical in this regard.

I purchased a $5 power supply at a swap meet for a HP 8200 I have here that has a dodgy PSU, the first numbers of the PSU were correct & I hoped it would be sufficient as I was assured the PSU came from another HP 8200... alas HP boxes come in different form factors too like Dell, and the other numbers related to the form factor or size/shape & hole positioning.

At ComputerBank I got to see thousands of dell, HP & lenovo boxes that were donated, and then offered for resale (with Ubuntu) OR if not up to scratch were recycled. Outside of the dell's wiring-snaffu, I've seen those three brands as pretty equal (those who've worked at the place for long years, have noted quality often varies, with HP having a higher quality generally than Dell or Lenovo but not by much).
 
If you wish to upgrade the CPU my list [below] of compatible ones show the increase in speed over the i5-6500, the best option is the i7-6700 as the 6700K runs faster BUT it also runs much hotter [98 W] and will cause heat dispersal problems in such a small case

Core i7-6700483.4 GHz4 GHz1MB8MB65W+ 98%


Core i7-6700K
139.6%
Core i7-6700127.2%
Core i5-6600K113.5%
Core i5-6600106.9%
Core i5-6500100%
 
I have been buying pre used for some years now, usually £25~50, but I put in a 'silly bid' on E-bay, for a job lot of 15x HP T520 thin clients.....& won..... total cost amounted to £1.67p each!

They all work perfectly, came with 4GB ram, (I'm still running 2GB ram machines quite happily with Linux/BSD), & had 16GB M2 SSD in each! (16GB is more than enough for an O/S, with room to spare, using external drives for my data)

I bought a HP G2, (8"x8"x1.25"), 8GB ram & 250GB SSD, for £80, my most expensive 'pre used', but it was from a charity shop, so was happy to pay the price for that one. :)
 
It was irritating. I shouldn't have to bend the flimsy metal back into place to put a cover on. I don't even know how it got bent to begin with.

It was closing the case that got me riled up.

I'm too old and too mature to take it outside and shoot it.

But fire crossed my mind a couple of times.
Yeah well I'll take anything I own that irritates me enough and destroy it.
Ain't got nothing to do with
"I'm too old and too mature to take it outside and shoot it."
I'm old and I'm mature but I believe in self medication by whatever means necessary. :p :D
Also, I have an SSD with Windows 10 Pro that I can put back in it if I want. I think it might even qualify for Windows 11.

I have no idea and I'll never find out, but I do have a Windows 10 Pro SSD kicking around.
No telling I'm shocked, surprised and amazed with what I found on some of my old hard drives I have laying around. :p :D
 
They all work perfectly, came with 4GB ram, (I'm still running 2GB ram machines quite happily with Linux/BSD)
I don't seem to have any problem running any Linux that I've used with only 4.0GB of memory.

, & had 16GB M2 SSD in each! (16GB is more than enough for an O/S, with room to spare, using external drives for my data)
I don't have any problems running regular Linux on 40GB hard drives.
Yeah you do have to keep the browser cache and thumbnails cleared.
 
Other than the cover, it's simple now that I know how. It's not very intuitive.

My Dell is the older probably the original version.

When you start removing stuff inside the case does seem to be flimsy but when altogether they are solid little desktops.

delloptiplex380graphicscard-5e146058-c029-4b04-a32e-c10d02ce55fb-656702528
 
I don't seem to have any problem running any Linux that I've used with only 4.0GB of memory.


I don't have any problems running regular Linux on 40GB hard drives.
Yeah you do have to keep the browser cache and thumbnails cleared.
Yes, 4GB is plenty of ram for normal use, I was using only 2GB on some of mine. :)

I don't worry about browser cache, etc, that stays on the 16GB M2 SSD; what isn't used for the system is used as /home. ;)

I was also running a couple of distros in just 1GB ram fairly recently, & whilst not fast, perfectly usable for day to day tasks.

Linux & BSD just don't need much ram to work, for basic computing.
 

Members online


Latest posts

Top