HP Compaq dx2420 Microtower Computer (Windows 10, CPU Upgrade, RAM and Maintenance)

This blog post is about the HP Compaq dx2420 microtower computer covering: Windows 10, CPU upgrade, RAM, maintenance and more. This blog post was published in August 2018!

HP Compaq dx2420 Microtower Computer

Introduction
I’ve recently been blogging about the dx2420 and whilst it’s an old computer, for many people it will still meet their requirements.

There are limitations, such as not being able to install more than 4GB of RAM, which for some people isn’t enough memory. Also I suggest you use a PCIe graphics card and not rely on the motherboard’s on-board graphics. I wouldn’t use the computer without a graphics card.

inside dx2420 computer

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 I suggest 4GB RAM, PCIe graphics card and at least a E5300 2.60GHz CPU. I don’t use WiFi with the dx2420 and instead use the RJ45 ethernet connection.

It won’t be an impressive performance, but it will run Windows 10. I’ve used an ATI Radeon HD 5450 graphics card and E5300 and E8400 socket 775 CPUs with the computer.

I enjoy playing multi-player computer games, and have run Broforce, Company of Heroes, Red Alert 3 and Towerfall.

It is also possible to run an Android emulator, such as Nox and I’ve see Paradise Bay running on a dx2420. I watch HD video via services such as Netflix, NowTV, Rakuten and YouTube.

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.

Hardware

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

dx2420 rear connections

Hard drives
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.

dx2420 BIOS

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).

Maintenance
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.

dusty heatsink and fan

Motherboard
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.

dx2420 bios flash

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.

CPU

If you’re thinking about replacing the CPU, click on the link to read about my dx2420 CPU upgrade.

CPU on motherboard

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.

CPU-Z E8400 3GHz

CPU-Z with E8400 3GHz listed

RAM
I recommend using 4GB of memory, and the dx2420 uses DDR2. I never run mismatched RAM, and below are two types of memory sticks I have used in this computer:

  • 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.

inside a dx2420 case

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.

Conclusion
If somebody gave me a dx2420 for free or I saw an incredible deal, at the moment I would consider buying another one of these computers for low performance use.

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.

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