Upgrading the CPU on a Dell GX240

2.6Ghz Celeron

My two recently acquired Dell GX240 PCs were surprisingly quick with the 1.6Ghz Pentium 4 processors and Ubuntu. However, after some research I discovered that the GX240 motherboard is capable of using a more powerful processor without having to change to faster RAM. A quick search on eBay located two used SL6VV (2.6Ghz Celeron) processors for £3.95 each (including postage!) and they were promptly purchased.

The upgrade itself is very easy. Simply open the case, flip up the green heat-sink shroud and unclip and remove the heat-sink. Release the socket ZIF lever and swap out the processor with the new one. Replace the heat-sink, clips and shroud, close the case and restart the PC. During the boot phase, press F2 to go into the BIOS setup. The main page will provide immediate confirmation that the Celeron has been recognised.

I bought a syringe of CPU heat-sink grease but I didn’t need it. The stock heat-sink had a thermally conductive sticky pad that stayed stuck to it instead of the processor. The pad was in good condition so I decided to reuse it to avoid trying to clean it off.

GX240 fan shroudUsing the CPU benchmark in BOINC, the results of the 1.6Ghz Intel Pentium 4 were…

778 floating point MIPS (Whetstone)
1644 integer MIPS (Dhrystone)

After installing the 2.6Ghz Intel Celeron the benchmark showed a substantial improvement…

1327 floating point MIPS (Whetstone) per CPU
3532 integer MIPS (Dhrystone) per CPU

Verdict

The performance of Ubuntu Desktop 9.10 running on a Dell GX240 with a 1.6Ghz Intel Pentium 4 and 512MB RAM is surprisingly good. Upgrading the CPU to a 2.6Ghz Celeron has made the old PC feel a little faster for most GUI applications that I use. I suspect a higher performance GPU would make a more noticeable improvement.

Since installing the faster processors, one of the GX240s will ‘freeze’ after a few hours of running. I suspect that the 2.6Ghz CPU is overheating as the stock heatsink is dependent on the shrouded case fan exhausting heat from the case. I am going to change the passive heatsink for a fan cooled version.

I bought another two SL6VV processors for £2.49 each and I am now on the lookout for a pair of Socket 478 coolers. Despite the small setback due to passive cooling, this upgrade was worth doing considering how cheap it was.

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