Dell Dimension 8300


Sep 3, 2011
This wa smy work PC. When I retired tehy were going to thro it out so
I took it home and my grandson adopted it.
Unforunately the graphics card(number 2) has gone and the only
HDD is dying> So i need to resuscitate it almost totally.

It can take 512 max HDD & I have 2 320 GB SATA HDDs on the way
although the original 120 SATA will probably be dead by then.
Can I use an external HDD to boot it if it does die by loading Win XP
( a MUST) onto this drive?

In addition ther ATI radeon 256MB has ALWAYS been a right PIA and has
always had problems. It is now dying or dead, as the horizontal green stripes
on a perfectly normal monitor(checked) while pretty, do not add to the software.

So I have an NVidia 512 MB graphics card to replace it(geForce 6200) & might even
add two to persuade it to handle fallout NV.. It can take 4MB RAM so I will
have to upgrade from the current 2.
Now with all this extra stuff will the 200W power be able to handle it or do i have
replace this also? This is where my lack of knowledge kicks in as i haven't a clue
how much power the HDDs or the Graphics cards take. In addition I WILL replace
the fan as it has to be the noisiest SOB I have ever heard and you could hear it
2 rooms away. I complained to Dell about this and they said :"it needs it"
but an industrial deafness claim would be possible here so it is a pity that
I listened to them and did work for myself : )

If you managed to get this far then thank you.
Once i am finished with thse four I will only repair as necessary as I want to

get back to true retirement (Xcountry skiing and bushwalking)


Nov 13, 2008
"It can take 512 max HDD & I have 2 320 GB SATA HDDs on the way"

I don't know what you mean by "512 max HDD", but the Dimension 8300 doesn't support SATA HDDs. You're either going to have to use an IDE/PATA HDD or buy a SATA controller card. And if the system supports HDDs larger than 128GB (are you sure?), that means it's 48-bit LBA compatible & therefore should be no reason why you can't install 1TB HDDs or larger. Don't even consider trying to run an OS from an external drive. If anything, burn yourself a Linux Live CD & run driectly from that until you get the HDD situation figured out - no HDD is required for running a Live CD. Anyhow, here's the 8300 info:

"I have an NVidia 512 MB graphics card to replace it(geForce 6200)"

I don't know which ATI card you have (or had), but the GF 6200 is a low end pice of crap, not a gaming card. Unfortunatey, your system has AGP so your choices in gaming cards is going to be severely limited unless you're willing to pay the big bucks or buy a used card.

"It can take 4MB RAM so I will
have to upgrade from the current 2"

Do you mean GB? Being that you have such an outdated system, RAM (DDR1) is going to be expensive.

"Now with all this extra stuff will the 200W power be able to handle it or do i have
replace this also?"

As I stated, the GF 6200 is not a gaming card so it doesn't have high power requirements. However, if you were to get a "true" gaming card, the power supply would definitely need to be upgraded. What you need to ask yourself is this - is it worth throwing approx $200 (HDD + RAM + video card + power supply) at a system that's 7-8 years old when you can get a brand new system that will out perform it for about $300?


Sep 3, 2011
Okay thank you for the reply. But i just wish you had read my post and answered my questions , not criticised my aims as it really isn't up to you.

I actually have the purchase specifications & the manual in front of me now and yes you are correct about the RAM being Gb..Mea Culpa.
BUT You are totally wrong about the SATA and yes, I can tell the difference by simply looking at the cables & the drives, not to mention that the purchase quote
included a SATA description.

As for the 6200 not being gaming cards well that is too bad as beggars cannot be chosers and I was grateful to find anything that wasn't ATI: so you get what you can. This PC can only take a 512 MB graphics card maximum( I spent 2 hrs on the phone to a Dell techie to sort all this out) but as it has an available slot it should be able to handle two of them in theory, not sure about fact That is why I posted here. This machine before it crashed could handle Fallout 3 & Oblivion but not Fallout NV & most MMORPGs were quite good on it according to my son. Yes it is AGP and hence the beggar's choice(ATI 9800 Radeon was good when it was good but bad most of the time and ANY card near it will do and a 512 NVidia or two will do me.

The 512 Max HDD again came from a Dell who am I to argue with them and he spent 15 mins finding out I add. I had tried a 1TB HDD but It would not kick in so I pulled it out and will use it for backup in the new system which can handle another HDD. Once I have the 8300 running successfully with one drive i may try it again first./

The aim was NOT to turn it into a super machine as we already have a very recent Desktop which I think has an 8x processor (it cost enough apparently). The aim was to boost its capacity in those games it could and did play well as well as to see if it could handle FNV when boosted(not crucial just curiosity as it tried very hard to play FNV before). This machine will STAY a Win XP machine justas the older one will stay a Win 98 machine so that they can use specific software. My son is a collector and has all of teh Elder Scroll seeries etc etc and there is no point if you cannot play them. The win 96 machine can even play Ultima VI, VIIa, VIIb, VIII & IX which gives you an idea of how importnat it is as emulators are often very lacking although amateur upgrades of classic games (Privater) are very underrated but still useless on higher windows.

I am not sure about the Ram as it could be 2 or 4 Gb already. I believe I upgraded after its purchase but I haven't started pulling anything out as I dont have all the components just yet and as it is dying I am not turning it on unless I have to do so./ If I didn't install it then, I proabaly have it somewhere anyway.

Look I know & see your point about buying a new system but as i said above I have one next to me now and that WAS NOT MY POINT.
I wanted advice on the fan/power not a lecture on the sense behind my actions.
The 200W power supply was adequate for a 256 ATI card but IMHO it will be okay for ONE 512 Ram card but not TWO and I think that I will have to push to 240 & if I add a better & quieter fan perhaps even 280w. This was what I wanted to know & now I wonder why I bothered


Sep 3, 2011
Ok just an update..despite my criticism of his criticism I wish to thank Jamx13 for his reply as there were F/A others.

My son has supplied me with FOUR graphics cards to see if they work" a 1Gb , two 512 and one 256 to see how they go..all old but still working and I will try and buy new the best one but I am waiting for a 500w PSU before i move here. Graphics card apart, the machine works well but its 305 w PSU (not 200) wont be adequate for 2 500 Gb SATAS and the 1gb Graphics card. This is an excellent machine as it was used nonstop since its arrival 6 yrs until recently when the latest desktop supplanted it) with only that horrible ATI card causing problems.

I am actually happy that no one else bothered to reply as I have learnt it all myself anyway which wont hurt and makes me a potentail opsimath : )


Oct 10, 2011
32 -bit Windows O.S. allows just 4GB of mapped memory, INCLUDING the video card RAM and about 500 MB for whatever.

Therefore you could install the 1GB video card and 4GB of RAM and only be able to use 2.5 GB of it!!

My machine with Windows XP Pro 32-bit has 4GB RAM, a 256mb video card and available memory = just 3.25GB.

Machine 1 = Dell Poweredge 800 Server, 1 SATA H.D., 2 PCI-E x1 slots, 1 ATI HD3650 video card, 4GB DDR2 RAM, Audigy FW sound card.
Now running a X1950XT 512 PCI-E card in a 1-lane slot.

EDIT - Machine 2 = Dell Dimension 8300 with the 305w PSU, which has identical 12v specs as the 350w Dell PSU. SATA is available via mobo.
This Dell doesn't waste resources on onboard video.

I have the above maligned Geforce 6200 -256 and the card is just fine for an old AGP machine. I was just viewing 'Avatar' DVD on it.
However, it is a poor card for converting video - lengthy times as the CPU does it all.


Oct 10, 2011
WHAT video cards were successfully used in your Dell Dimension 8300?

I have bought 'bargains' on ebay: four AGP cards, 3 of which fail to be recognized by the Dell, preventing it from even booting up.

Worked - ATI X1650XT

I want to add a couple things if I can between all this bickering.

I had a Dimension 8400 (which is pretty close to the 8300) at one point and I can tell you a couple things about it from my experience.

Firstly, DELL PSUs are known to be pretty bad. DELL likes to give you a bad case as well with a top mount PSU.

The heat internal to the PSU makes it perform worse. Add to that the fact that the PSU they give you in the first place is already not very good.

It isn't at all clear to me right now that there is even a problem with the ATI video card.

Power problems can disguise themselves as problems with anything else, so your lines on the screen and stuff may not even be from a bad video card. It could just be a struggling power subsystem.

It would clearly fit with everything else.

Additionally, it is worth noting here that power problems often manifest themselves as problems with fans going crazy all the time. That sounds like it matches up pretty well with your situation too.

It could really be the video card was damaged by the power system that just can't cut it anymore, or it could have been the video card going bad for other reasons, or the video card could be perfectly good.

There is no real way to tell at this point.

Also, I want to point out that how many MBs of RAM that are physically attached to the graphics card doesn't determine its performance capabilities. It does matter in terms of how many monitors you can attach and how big of monitor screens you can attach, but the processor built into the graphics card is the true determiner for how well it performs.

A HD 4870 with 512 MBs would blow away the performance of 6x Nvidia GT 220s with 512 MBs each on them if you could somehow get them to perform in parallel. That is just because the processor on the 4870 is 6x as good as the one on the GT 220s.

The HD 4870 512 MB card will blow away a lot of single video cards with 2GBs of RAM on them that are on the market too.

Without knowing the maker/model of the video cards at your disposal, I can't really advise on how much power each one would need, or if you should use any of the 512s instead of the 1GB video cards because they have faster processors on them.

However, there is something missing here that hasn't even been mentioned yet.

My Dimension 8400 case (which I assume is the same as your 8300 case) had PSU mounts that were not universal mounts. By that I mean you can't just go to the store and pick up a PSU and put it in the PC, because it physically won't fit.

I bought a PSU without giving thought to this myself and tried to put it in only to find out that the place where the power cord was supposed to be was obstructed by metal. DELL had moved the place where the cord was supposed to go in order to make sure I couldn't buy non-DELL PSUs.

I did get around this by taking metal cutters and cutting a huge ugly chunk out of the back of my case, but I just want to warn you that you may be faced with this same problem if you want to just drop by best buy or something and get a PSU.

Additionally, 1 watt from brand A doesn't mean the same thing as 1 watt from brand B. There are few to no testing standards, so the wattages written on the box don't mean very much.

Some PSUs that say 750w blow before you pull 400w from them. My PSU that said 650w on the box can easily do 815w at room temperature.

If you are only looking at the wattages on the box, you have no idea if a given PSU of 200, 300, 400, 500, or whatever wattage will be able to supply the needed power.

You get what you pay for in PSUs. If two PSUs both say that they do 450w and one of them costs half as much as the other, it can probably only provide half the power of the more expensive one too.

I can tell you that this PSU is a really good value right now after the rebate and it can deliver the power it says it can.

That PSU can definitely run most components you might be looking at, but that doesn't take into account the impact of the bad case on its performance nor does it account for the fact that it is a universal mount PSU so it might not fit the DELL case.

Additionally, I wanted to say that DELL does yet another thing to screw people, which is why both of you are having problems with video cards. At least in the past, circa the Dimension 8300 days, DELL changed the motherboard specifications around to only give some stupidly low amount of power to the video card through the PCIE slot.

The card slots themselves usually give 75w of power to whatever is plugged into them. DELL re-engineered their motherboards to only give something like 25w of power through the card slot. That means whatever you plug into it has to be a super low power video card or it won't work.

If the video card has additional power connectors that attach directly to the PSU (most new cards do) then it can suck up most of the difference from those ports, but you take a risk of damaging the card if you use them this way, because these additional ports are only meant for X amount of power, not X + 50w because the slot isn't pulling its weight.

So that could be a problem you face if you stick with the same DELL motherboard.

The DELLs were never meant to be gaming beasts and DELL always wanted to lock people into buying parts from the DELL store at 2x or more of the cost, so its pretty tough to try to modify them or resurrect them when they start having problems.

I don't particularly agree with Jamx13's way of going about saying to trash this computer and buy a brand new one, but he does kinda have a point.

Fighting with DELL's intentions about how these things should be upgraded and used might be more costly than it is worth.

Every piece in the computer is part of one big system and every piece impacts every other piece in ways that are not easy to see if you aren't highly proficient with computers.

That is if you don't have to fight with protections the maker of the PC put in to try to lock you into upgrading through them.

You would have to fight against both of those things when you are trying to upgrade this old DELL.

If you thought you might not have to replace the PSU, be prepared to whether you like it or not.

If you thought you can get by with the same case, be prepared for it not to be as easy as you thought.

If you thought you could keep the same motherboard, be prepared for problems that you haven't forseen in that regard.

Every one of those things has the potential to add to the cost of the repairs, and that isn't all either.

You may spend a whole lot more than you intended to in order to fix this DELL so it is working like you want. Just letting you know that up front.

Maybe you really don't have to, and that would be great, but you should be prepared to before you commit any money into trying to revive it.


Oct 10, 2011
The Dell PSU quality - I cannot say for sure because I just have 3 Dell PSUs.
The maligned 305 watt supply provides 22A of 12v on two rails each rated at 18A max.
This beats many older 350w-400w name brand PSUs that have too many 5v amps instead.
Wading through many tech posts on just my BFG 7800GS AGP video card, 50% state that the card worked with a PSU upgrade to 25A + 12V, and 50% state the card still fails.
I even tried using two PSU's in attempts to boot with the 7800GS.

A straight answer about Dell Dimension 8300 problems with later AGP cards at - Forget it. My theory is that they streamlined the BIOS and POST process circa 2003-4 to prevent overclocking the Dell.
In BIOS, I can only select AGP or Auto = a second PCI video card, and the AGP Aperture width.

Regarding power through a PCI-E slot, I mentioned that my other Dell has a PCI-E x1 slot with a large ATI X1950XT PCI-E x16 card. It has a standard 6-pin power plug - 4 wires for current.

Regarding Dell locking users into the Dell only parts - see the motherboard, with the corner cutout of a standard board to fit the special Dell case.
It matters that your card has to pull almost all its power through the 6 pin PCIE power connector and that it can't get the normal amount through the slot itself.

That will make your system perform worse than it could and put you other parts in more danger than they have to be in.

It should still function though, at least for a while.

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