Repair or replace current PC?

  justjill 10:48 30 Mar 2010


My PC is on the blink. It's 4.5 years old and I'm fairly sure the problem is the power supply. The CPU also makes a hell of a lot of noise (could this be sinister?) I'm debating whether to have it fixed or replaced.

It's a Dell 9100 and according to a Belarc Advisor audit it has:

3.00GHz Pentium 4 (is this right?!)
160Gb Hard drive (running out of space)
3072Mb RAM

My initial thoughts were that I might as well relace the tower unit only as I have all the peripherals but I haven't been able to find anything affordable at a similar spec (I paid £700 for this 4.5 years ago - could it really be 3GHz?! Can anyone with the same PC confirm this?)

There are numerous affordable (£400ish) PCs out there but all seem to have 2GHz - 2.6GHz processors, although they do have nice fat hard drives.

So, given its age, is it worth getting the power supply fixed and upgrading the hard drive to something twice the size or should I buy a new base unit, albeit one with a lower spec?

The PC is used for business, mainly emails (and mail merges of 500 addresses at a time), storing/viewing large graphic files and web design. Would I notice a drop in performance if I changed to a 2GHz or 2.6GHz machine?

Many, many thanks for any advice :)


  2987 11:06 30 Mar 2010

Hi Jill, i would definately say you should replace the unit. Being 4.5 years old the trouble is if you replace the power supply you dont know what component will fail next. You could end up spening so much money simply repairing the system all the time. It has done well to last 4.5 years but technology constantly changes and computers can very quickly go 'out of date.'

If you already have the peripherals then it probably isnt worth buying a package. Is £400 the budget that you have to stick to?

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 11:06 30 Mar 2010

3 GhZ processor was common back then Dual and Quad core has allowed speed to drop nowadays.
I'm running a 5 year old Medion with a 3GHz processor

Does it do what you want? if so repair because its cheaper.

A new large hard drive, fan and PSU will cost less than £100.
Although cleaning the fan will reduce the noise.

If you want something faster to cope with modern games then upgrade

Hard drives click here

Why do you think its the PSU?

  iscanut 11:12 30 Mar 2010

I know what I would do, buy a nice new system of which there are plenty for £400/£500. BUT I don't know what your finances are like and as Fruit Bat intimates, if it does everything that you need and you don,t want increased power, speed and graphics etc, then get a quote for a repair, if indeed it needs one.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 11:35 30 Mar 2010

Adding a second hard drive
Changing a PSU
and changing a heatsink and fan

are all easy jobs you could do yourself.

  birdface 11:47 30 Mar 2010

Or some fairly cheap ones from E-Buyer.

click here

Worth a look just to see what you get for the money nowadays.

  Les28 12:02 30 Mar 2010

I'm running a 3Ghz P4 Prescott cpu from November 2004 and touch wood still going strong, 2 X 80 GB drives and just 1 GB RAM.

The noise you mentioned as has been said could just be your cpu heatsink fan all clogged up with a few years of dust, so worth having a look at that first to see if the source of the noise is the heatsink fan over the cpu racing away to cool the cpu through layers of dust blocking the cooling vanes.

You mentioned it being on the blink, apart from the noise you don't say why you think it's in a bad way, do you have freeze ups or shut downs, blue screens, slow boot etc, being low on free space isn't going to help.

  justjill 13:04 30 Mar 2010

Sorry, the problem is that when you shut it down, it takes sometimes two dozen attempts to get it to start up again. It's fine if you just restart it from Windows, the problem seems to be with the 'on' button after it's been shut down - when you press it it will start up if you're very, very lucky but mostly flashes orange and numbers 1 and 3 light up on the front panel - I Googled this and people seemed to think it was a power supply problem. We also had a similar problem when it was under guarantee and Dell said it was the power supply then. I tend to leave it on permanently for fear of it not starting some day. Other than that, it behaves very well. I rarely get a freeze or a blue screen.

I'm worried because it's our main business computer. We have a laptop as well but if this machine goes down we'd need to get it up and running again very quickly - I don't want that to happen as I know I'll end up paying over the odds for someone to come out ASAP and, in my inevitable panic, I'm afraid I won't make a sensible decision whether to repair or replace. I thought I'd do all the thinking now (or rather, get you lot to do all the thinking!) so that I know what the best plan of action is should the worst happen.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 13:18 30 Mar 2010

"I'm worried because it's our main business computer."

I assumme you are doing regular backups to an external source i.e. DVDs or an external drive.

  northumbria61 13:43 30 Mar 2010

Are you sure the noise is coming from the CPU ?
It could be from the Power Supply - I had thoughts on replacing one recently until I discovered it was only the fan blades that were hitting the metal protective grill - a little bending silenced it completely.

I would start off making a few checks before committing to anything - blow off a bit/lots of dust and check connections from PSU and other components etc. and see if there is any improvement.

It could save you money - or it will help you with your decision whether to repair or replace.

Don't rush into making decisions you may regret but I also hope as Fruit Bat mentions that you are making regular backups of your hard drive should anything go wrong with your current setup.

  northumbria61 13:46 30 Mar 2010

You say "I'm fairly sure the problem is the power supply."

If it turns out to be the case a new PSU can be purchased fairly cheaply and is easy to fit.

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