Giving socket 775 Windows 10 desktops a second life with a cheap Xeon CPU

This blog post covers a span of five years, where I try and succeed to keep my customers Veriton M275 still functional and not an irritatingly slow experience when using Windows.

It starts off with some background info and then gives my preferred low-cost solution to the problem of your Intel socket 775 dual-core CPU being a bottleneck in your decade-old Windows 10 desktop PC. I end up falling for the Xeon L5420’s charms that I’m on a mission to upgrade every Core 2 Duo I find!

PC’s from 2010 have struggled with Windows since 2015

Around 2010 my client bought a Packard Bell PC from PC World. It had 2 GB of ram and an E3300 Dual-Core CPU. She contacted me in 2015 after her 5-year service contract with PC World had ended. Her PC was running slow under Windows 7 and she wanted to replace her PC. She wanted advice about which new PC to buy and so I visited her home to check out her existing hardware.

Upgrading Ram and installing an SSD

The clients PC had a motherboard from an Acer Veriton M275 inside the Packard Bell branded case. She didn’t believe any parts had been replaced. I still don’t know if the PC World staff replaced these during her annual service or if the machine shipped with these parts.

The client had planned to spend £499 on a new Lenovo C40 21.5″ all in one (AIO) PC. One option I offered was building a Gigabyte BRIX system for under £200. The other option was to upgrade her M275 for under £100.

She chose to help save the planet and we upgraded her ram from 2GB to 4GB for £30 and she bought a Samsung Evo SSD. These upgrades were successful and she had a much more responsive PC.

Windows 10 Free upgrade making old systems slow

The client took advantage of the free upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10. Windows 10 feature upgrades come twice a year and I have seen lots of PC hardware over 8 years old struggling to run windows 10 since 2019. Even extra ram and SSD’s no longer fix a slow PC when the bottleneck becomes a CPU with few cores or threads.

Upgrading the Dell Vostro 230 with a Xeon E5430 makes it twice as fast!

My fathers Dell Vostro 230 had a E6500 CPU, 4GB ram and an SSD. In 2019 I had managed to install and get working a Xeon E5430 CPU. Dell doesn’t provide ROM files and therefore AFUDOS was used to get the bios image. I then needed to modify the bios image to add the Socket 771 Xeon microcode, so the Vostro 230 understood how to use the server CPU.

Comparison of a pair of CPUs specifications
Dell Vostro 230 upgraded from socket 775 E6500 to socket 771 Xeon E5430

Windows 10 needs a CPU Mark over 2000

The CPU Mark benchmarks speak for themselves. The 4 core Xeon CPU is over twice as fast as the Vostro’s original dual-core E6500 CPU. The Passmark website has a brilliant searchable database of CPU’s features and their relative speeds. I have come to the conclusion that a CPU Mark benchmark of around 2000+ is needed for a responsive experience in Windows 10 in 2020.

Acer Veriton M275 upgraded with a Xeon L5420 CPU

My Client with the M275 was willing to allow me to experiment with adding a Xeon CPU to her machine. My research indicated that I couldn’t add a CPU with a TDP of over 65 Watts. I found the low power Xeon L5420 was a suitable candidate as it has a TDP of just 50W. Even better the L5420 pre-modified from AliExpress is < £6.

Acer Veriton M275 upgraded from Socket 775 E3300 to Socket 771 Xeon L5420

Thankfully for the M275 Acer provides a bios ROM file and AFUWIN in their latest Veriton M275 bios P01.C2 bios download from 2012. This bios again needed to be modified to add in the 771 microcode.

The Xeon chips I buy from AliExpress are modified to fit in the Socket 775 without having to risk damage to the motherboard by cutting away positioning lungs of the 775 socket. They even have the 775 to 771 adapter applied for you.

Socket 771 Xeon CPU modified to fit in a socket 775 motherboard

Problems adding 771 Xeon Microcode to your Bios

If the guides I have linked to above are confusing and you need help to install a faster CPU in your old socket 775 motherboards get in contact with me and I can probably do the upgrade for you for £20 if your near Manchester and can drop off the machine or modify a bios image for you for £6.

Please remember though that applying any bios image is risky and could break your PC. With a PC from 2010 that’s ready for the recycling centre you might just be willing to accept that risk!

2 Replies to “Giving socket 775 Windows 10 desktops a second life with a cheap Xeon CPU”

  1. Nice blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere?
    A design like yours with a few simple tweaks would really make my blog jump out.
    Please let me know where you got your theme. Cheers

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