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Issue #806 – Publication Week: January 1-7, 2023

Geek Note:  Happy New Year Geeks, Geek Wannabes, and casually lurking readers!  Welcome to the New Year 2023 edition of It’s Geek To Me!  I’m going to start the year by once again getting after you to send in your questions.  My question queue is nearly empty.  I’m torn between wondering if I’ve simply solved all of your technology problems, or thinking you’re just too shy to send them in.  So, I’m appealing to you directly:  If you’re reading this, I want to hear from you!  Hit my website, and click on the link that says “Submit a Question.”  It’s east, fast, painless, and of course free.  The chances are pretty good that I’ll have an answer or at least some suggestions for you.  What have you got to lose, except your problems?

• • •

Q: I think I’ve read your column ever since its beginning and have learned a lot therein. Have also enjoyed your Geek Lights on the Corner, since I live just a few blocks away from you.

 The question I have for your Geekness is this: my desktop workhorse is an 8-year old Dell Inspiron 3647. It’s original except for my replacement of an SSD for the spinning discs.  I’d like to update it in order to run Windows 11. I’m thinking of ASRock’s H610M ITX mobo with an Intel Core i5 6-core processor. What think you? Will the current 220W power supply be able to handle it? I’m not a tech newbie….I built the second computer I owned, but it seems as though prices of machines are so low it hardly makes sense to build one from scratch.

 – Ron A.
Niceville, Florida

A: First things first, Ron.  Thank-you for being such a long-time reader.  I must be doing something right for you to hang in with me all this time.  (For those of you not in the know, the column had its 15th anniversary in 2022, and this is issue 806.)  Thanks also for the kind words on my light show.  For those of you local to the Florida panhandle, the Geek Lights will continue through the Epiphany on January 6th, and likely to the weekend that follows.  It’s a beautiful and fun way to spend a half-hour, and since Christmas technically isn’t over until January 6th, it’s still in the season.  Come and enjoy.

Now, on to business.  I tend to agree with you that you are definitely not a newbie at tech.  Anyone capable of handling the swap from a spinny magnetic drive to an SSD without trashing their system certainly knows their way around a PC.  Having said that, I don’t fully agree with your strategy for trying to make your old PC compatible with Windows 11, and I’ll tell you why.

For those who don’t savvy the hardware designations in Ron’s question, what he’s proposing is to remove the heart of his computer – the motherboard, along with all the attached hardware, and replace it with newer and far faster hardware.  I think there are far more bumps along this road than you have considered.  For example, in gaining a new state-of-the-art processor, you’re also going to need new RAM to match.  That’s an additional expense.  It’s also possible that this new motherboard won’t even fit into your existing Dell case.  And no, that little power supply is nowhere near powerful enough to drive the new motherboard, i5 processor, memory, and peripheral hardware.  A quick Google search of recommended wattage for the generation of processor you’re considering is in the range of 650-1000 watts.  Of course, such beefier power supplies are readily available, but you’re going to have the same challenge as above of finding one that fits into your existing case.

What you’re basically proposing here is hanging onto the case and hard drive and swapping out everything else.  Unless there is something really special about that Dell case, I don’t see the reason to hang onto it.  My advice would be to take out your SSD and put a cheap hard drive into it.  Then sell the computer for what you can get for it, and put that money toward the newer, faster system that you’re obviously craving.

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