This blog post is about the HP Compaq dx2420 microtower computer covering: Windows 10, CPU upgrade, RAM, maintenance and more. This blog post has been updated in 2019.
Last updated: 12th November 2019
Warning: I’m not suggesting you do anything I did to the dx2420 PC! You perform any hardware changes at your own risk!
- Using Microsoft Windows 10
- Hard Drives
- Motherboard (note: BIOS flash blog post here)
- CPU (note: Old outdated CPU upgrade blog post here)
- Core 2 Quad CPU
I’m updating the introduction in November 2019. I used to own two dx2420 PCs, but killed the motherboard on one of them! I’ve placed the dx2420 with the MS-7525 motherboard in my bedroom.
This is an old computer, but I recently added an additional hard drive and replaced the E8400 CPU with a Core 2 Quad Q6600 CPU. Previously I had replaced the PSU and made other changes.
The PC used to have Windows Vista installed. I currently dual boot between LibreElec and Windows 10. I have three hard drives and a DVD writer installed. I’m currently not using one of the hard drives, but might install a linux OS on it.
I have installed a wireless card, but I currently don’t use it and I prefer to use the ethernet RJ45 connection.
The dx2420 isn’t my main computer these days. I quite like the computer and I intend to carry on using it. I suggest you use a PCIe graphics card and not rely on the motherboard’s awful on-board graphics. I wouldn’t use the computer without a graphics card.
This isn’t a computer for high end gaming and video encoding. So what exactly can you use it for in 2018? Below I will answer that question and provide some feedback, based on use in 2018.
Using Microsoft Windows 10
You can install Windows 10 64-bit edition on a dx2420, but it won’t be good performance. I suggest 4GB RAM and a PCIe graphics card. I use the ATI Radeon HD 5450 graphics card. I’m using a socket 775 Quad 2 Core CPU in the PC (I previously used E5300 & E8400 CPUs). I don’t use WiFi with the dx2420 and instead use the RJ45 ethernet connection.
I used to play multi-player computer games, and have run Broforce, Company of Heroes, Red Alert 3 and Towerfall. My fiancee used to run the Nox Android emulator to play Paradise Bay.
This isn’t a computer for high end gaming or fast video encoding. I have used Corel VideoStudio X9 and Corel PaintShop Pro X9 (64-bit).
I also optimise Windows 10 for performance, which does make a difference. I turn off some visual features, disable some services, customise the start up and have no desktop wallpaper.
The rear of the dx2420 has the following connections:
- Three audio sockets (line-in, microphone and speaker).
- 4x USB ports
- 1x VGA
- 2x PS/2 (for keyboard and mouse)
- 1x RJ45 Ethernet
Note: The next two paragraphs and photo are outdated. Please scroll down for a November 2019 update.
I’ve never used a SSD in this computer and I’ve only used SATA hard drives up-to 250GB in size. There is room to fit a couple of 3.5″ hard drives in the 3.5” drive bays.
My dx2420 has a DVD drive in a 5.25” bay with a second 5.25” bay empty. So I guess you could consider using a 5.25” to 3.5” adapter if necessary. My typical setup is two hard drives and a DVD drive (and using the second 5.2″ bay to store a disconnected spare DVD drive).
November 2019: I now have installed three hard drives in a DX2420. The latest hard drive isn’t in a caddy in the top 5.25″ bay sitting on top of the DVD drive! I’ve installed an old wd5000avvs-63h0b 500GB SATA hard drive.
To help maximise the performance of this computer, maintenance is important. The state I let my CPU heatsink and fan get into wasn’t good. All the dust in the photo below would have been affecting the temperature and performance.
November 2019: I ran the free version of CCleaner in Windows 10, made a backup of the registry and then had it repair the registry. Afterwards I uninstalled a lot of software I don’t use.
I normally don’t upgrade a motherboard BIOS unless I’m forced to, but this time I decided to. I was originally running BIOS version 5.18 02/20/2009 and then flashed to 5.31 10/06/2010. The 5.18 and 5.31 BIOS versions don’t have options for overclocking.
If you want to read my blog post about a dx2420 motherboard BIOS flash, please click on the link.
I own two dx2420 computers, but I recently killed the motherboard in one of the computers. I then replaced the motherboard with a model meant for a dx7500. Click on the link to read about replacing a dx2420 motherboard.
Note: I did once install a GeForce GT 710 graphics card and it didn’t work too well, but I’ve not tried it since flashing a newer BIOS.
Note: Scroll down to read about a Core 2 Quad installation.
If you’re thinking about replacing the CPU, click on the link to read about my dx2420 CPU upgrade.
Note: This paragraph is outdated (please scroll down to read about a Core 2 Quad CPU) At the time of writing, I’m not sure whether I should have upgraded from a 2.6GHz to 3GHz CPU, despite the increased performance. If I had originally been using a sub 2.4GHz socket 775 CPU, I think it would have been a great upgrade.
Please note: A long time ago I replaced the PSU in my PC with a higher wattage PSU, because the original PSU died.
This section of the blog post was written in November 2019! I managed to get a Q6600 Core 2 Quad CPU working in a HP DX2420.
I was being naive as whilst I had checked HP’s web page about supported CPUs, I hadn’t looked at the microcode list in the latest BIOS.
I had previously flashed/installed the MS-7525 5.31 Rev A BIOS (you can read about that here), so I decided to use the application ‘intelmicrocodelist’ available via a link from this web page, to read what CPUs are listed in the 5.31 BIOS.
If the CPU IDs at CPU World are correct, then it lists a X5355, E5440, Q6600 and a Q9550! I was absolutely blown away by what I saw.
I already know that other people with a modified BIOS had been running some Xeon CPUs, but could I run the Q6600 with the official released 5.31 BIOS I already had installed? The quick answer is yes!
I installed the 775 socket CPU in the motherboard and when I booted I saw the message “ERROR : Unsupported CPU installed. PC will automatically power down in a few seconds.”
However when I pressed F2 it carries on booting, and I also can select other boot options as well, such as entering the BIOS. The Q6600 was also seen by Windows 10.
- Hyundai Electrics HYMP125U64CP8-S6 DDR2 PC2-6400 800MHz
- Nanya Technology NT2GT64U8HD0BY-AD DDR2 PC2-6400 800Mhz
There are only two slots available on the motherboard.
Power Supply Unit (PSU)
As mentioned, I own two of these computers and each arrived second-hand with a 300W PSU. When a PSU died, I didn’t have to buy a bespoke PSU.
Should you buy a dx2420?
Due to the CPU and RAM limitations, if you’re looking to buy a dx2420, perhaps reconsider and look at other computers, such as a Dell Optiplex 380.
The dx2420 upgrade options are limited and I often see them being sold for what I think is too much money, with better alternatives available for similar pricing. If you see one for an amazing deal, then you need to consider whether it can/could meet your needs.
Do you already own a dx2420?
If you already have a dx2420 and you are running Microsoft Windows Vista, then you could look at other operating systems, such as Linux Mint, Recalbox and Windows 7 or 10.
You might be using a dx2420 without a graphics card and not only will some graphics cards help with performance, but also provide DVI and HDMI connections. I use the ATI Radeon HD 5450 PCIe graphics card.
Out of the two dx2420 computers I have purchased, I now only have one with the original motherboard. I intend to carry on using the computer. I’ve used the dx2420 for both personal and work use.