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 Post subject: Dell XPS 200
PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 8:09 pm 
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Joined: Wed May 03, 2006 8:18 am
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Location: Seattle, WA
I've read horrible things about this box in regards to sound, but it's such a nice looking small box!...

So, I picked one up for cheap, and I'm going to see what I can do to make it quiet. Has anyone attempted/succeeded doing this?

I'll document everything as I go.

Wish me luck!

Here's the details: http://www1.us.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/xpsdt_200?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs


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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 10:23 pm 
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Good luck, keep us posted. Personally, I've developed a hankering for the Dell Optiplex SFF systems, also because of the little cases.

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PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2006 12:19 am 
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You should fill out your location information in your profile. Depending on where you are located, you can consider this thread for SPCR to do an official article on quitening a Dell XPS.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2006 9:40 am 
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Location: Seattle, WA
Shadowknight,

Thanks for the link. I just posted over there as well. We'll see if Mike's interested in the Dell SFF as opposed to the full size 400 or 600 series gaming rigs.

- Ken


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 9:24 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA
The XPS 200 arrived today. It's a very compact box; amazingly tight fit, in fact. After playing around with it for a couple hours, two things stand out.

It's actually quieter than I expected it to be, though far from acceptable. The hard drive is a Seagate 7200.9, and the seek noise is clearly audible through chassis vibrations. However, the fact that I can hear the seek noise means that there isn't a jet engine fan masking it.

As for fans, I've found 2 in the system. The chassis fan looks to be an 80mm job, set up in BTX style, pulling fresh air, and blowing through the CPU tunnel. It's a 4 pin fan w/ PWM. As expected, this fan slowly ramps up as the machine warms up. The second fan is in the power supply, and looks like a 60mm fan set to suck air from the chassis into the power supply (located at the top of the box), and out the rear.

Unfortunately, the predominant noise is a buzz out of the power supply. I've already submitted a service request to Dell regarding this issue. Hopefully, they'll send me a new power supply, but we'll see how it plays out.

In the meantime, I'm going to try and ignore the PS noise, and focus on quieting the rest of the system. To that end, the first step will be to replace the 3.5" Seagate with a 2.5" drive, and see if I can figure out how to suspend it in the 3.5" bay.

Pictures coming in a couple days.

- Ken


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2006 8:39 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA
After a little back and forth with Dell, they have agreed to send out a replacement power supply. Hopefully, I do have a defective unit, rather than the standard unit suffering from poor design.

The replacement should be on site by the end of the week, and we'll see if it improves anything.

On the hard drive front, I just realized that I don't have a 2.5" SATA drive. All my 2.5" drives are PATA. I could get a SATA/PATA adapter, along with a 2.5" -> 3.5" adapter, but that's enough dongles to make up for the smaller form factor. While the noise reduction would still apply, I would loose any benefit of the smaller 2.5" drive in terms of airflow and possible cooling. I'll probably just go buy a 2.5" SATA drive and just move forward.

- Ken


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 Post subject: Weekend Update
PostPosted: Sat May 13, 2006 11:36 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA
Well, Dell came out and replaced the power supply. The problem is that the second power supply has the same buzz as the first, so this is clearly a design/manufacturing defect.

Now I have to decide if the buzz is acceptable. In the workbench area where I started, I have a lot of other noise which masks the Dell, so I have to get really close to hear the buzz. If I'm more than 6" away, I can't hear it over the other noise in the lab.

My next test will be to take the box to an enclosed office that's reasonable quiet and see what noises I can hear at 12" distance. I'm assuming if I can get the system to where I'm straining to hear any noises at 12", I'll be happy with it.

- Ken


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2006 7:20 pm 
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Location: San Diego, CA
Thanks for sharing your experience with the XPS 200, Ken.

I am also considering buying one - I like the size a lot for my application (HTPC in a space restricted armoire). It looks like it has the potential to be a great system.

I do have a couple of questions:

Is the buzz from the power supply itself? Is the power supply a special format? Did you look into buying a third party ps?

Also, I read the CNET.com reviews and most users find this system noisy, but they are not very specific. Some point out that the DVD drive is very noisy - is yours quiet? Do you have the dual layer writer or the standard DVD rom drive? I'll pick what you have if quiet!

Last, I'd be interested to know how much room you see available for a GPU add-on - is it limited to half-height cards for sure?

Thanks,
Roman


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2006 8:23 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA
Digilight,

It has been a pleasure so far to finally give back to a community that I have gained so much from.

To answer your questions:

The power supply is a form factor that I have never seen before, so I doubt it is any standard. The buzzing is definitely coming from the power supply. It sounds an awful lot like transformer hum, but unless I take apart the power supply to identify the specific component, I can't be 100% sure.

To date, I have not tested any of the other components for noise, focusing on the noises I hear upon startup and taking a loudest to quietest approach where I concentrate on eliminating each noise as I perceive it.

The DVD drive is a laptop like slim unit, so I would not be suprised at all if it is a huge source of noise. My intent was to use this box as a replacement for my VCR, not as a DVD player, so I wasn't concerned with DVD drive noise as it would only be used when burning something I wanted to keep, which would be fairly rare.

As for the expansion slots, there are 2. 1 16x PCIe, and 1 1x PCIe. Both slots are slim line slots only, so you will be limited to half height cards.

- Ken


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2006 11:15 pm 
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Joined: Mon May 15, 2006 7:03 pm
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Location: San Diego, CA
Ok - thanks a lot for the info again - very useful!

Meanwhile, I had too much time to surf around, so I just purchased the thing :shock: . I just love this form factor, so I'll take a chance.
Actually found a refurb (unopened return, but -40% from price new) at Dell web outlet, so I'll also be poking at it in 2 days. I chose a fairly barebone config with 1GB of RAM, the basic DVD-rom (like you - I'll probably use it lightly: for installs or rips only and go for a quiet external DVD dual layer burner if needed), with MCE2005 and the OS CDs - this will fit my needs quite well, as I am only a casual gamer. Most of my DVDs will be read from networked HDDs, and display will be my 32" HP LC3200N TV. For speakers, I use a great value - logitech z5450, small and efficient with lots of handy inputs and wireless rear speakers.

I now need to find the best option for a decent DVI video card.
The 7300GS that I saw recommended has a fan on it - any idea on whether it will be significantly noisy at 5 foot distance? From what you say it seems the system fans are rather quiet, so I am a bit worried about not picking a passively cooled card. Haven't read all the posts yet, sorry if this has already been discussed here.

I better get to bed before I go broke lol :roll: - any tips will be appreciated on the vid card.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 8:24 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA
Well, how casual is "casual gamer?" If you do more of the simulation/strategy games where frame rate isn't as important, you can get an ADD2 card. It provides DVI output while using the onboard video (Intel GMA950).

I have an extra ADD2 card at work, so I'll try it out in the XPS200 tomorrow to make sure it works.

I'll also be trying out a 900 series processor tomorrow. I'm hoping I can reduce the fan speed since it runs cooler, or keep the same airflow but divert a bit over the video card to see if I can get a higher power passive card in there.

What kind of games do you typically play? There are several decent cards available, and the tradeoff is frame rate. The lower the frame rate, the less power you need, the cooler the card runs. Maybe a 6600 would be sufficient? there's a couple passively cooled 6600 low profile cards that could be the ticket. They may run a bit warm in this case, however.

On the noise front, I think the biggest noise culprit right now is the power supply fan. It looks like a 60mm fan, and it's pulling air from the rear of the case, through the power supply, and blowing into the case. I'm not sure what the purpose of blowing into the case is. All I can think of is that the CPU heat sink right behind the front intake fan (BTX form factor) means the case air is already high enough that the power supply needs the fresh air to cool instead of pulling the warm air from the case.

- Ken


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2006 7:49 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA
I didn't get as much time today as I had hoped.

I was able to test the ADD2 card, and it works great. The one I have is from Molex, part number 795305007.

Unfortunately, that's all I had time to test today. Maybe I'll get more time tomorrow to do some other stuff.

- Ken


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 11:50 am 
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Location: San Diego, CA
> Well, how casual is "casual gamer?"

Actually I do enjoy occasional action games , like HL2 or Doom 3 and racing simulations, so I think I'll need a stronger GPU than the integrated Intel 950. I would be happy with something that matches the 9600XT performance I get on my desktop. Good to know that the ADD2 solution works, it would be great for 2D or slower 3D graphics it seems, and is one third of the price for a 6600, which is itself on the cheap side.

I am starting to lean towards a 6600 (e.g . low profile XFX) that seems both affordable and able to yield decent frame rates for 3D (see http://pcworld.about.com/gi/dynamic/off ... g,6,00.asp).

At this point I think I won't get a 7300GS, the risks of excessive noise, heat and power consumption is not worth it IMO.

Thanks for your input - please let us know if your 900 series makes a significant difference in the heat load. I did read that it should, thanks to the 65nm process.

Also, I played a bit with the box last nite - happily surprised at the noise level overall, while I agree with you on the power supply. It's not too strong but a tad annoying because of its high pitch. But I can live with that and will have it hidden away more than that a future so it should be acceptable. The front fan definitely speeds up when using sustained processor power, curious to see if you see a difference with the 900 series.

I think a lot of the people complaining about "a lot" of noise on the cnet reviews did not make sure the case panels where not moving - I looked inside and could see how things could rattle. Laying it sideways stabilizes that whole left panel. Some units may need internal shims to prevent couple of components (especially side panels) from rattling. I find that at low CPU utilization the dominant noise source is the seek from the hdd - a Seagate 7200.7 series. That's a sign that this box is overall pretty quiet, I think. Much quieter than my other SFFs - shuttles SN41G2 (noisy) and SN45G (pretty good).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2006 5:02 am 
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Location: Seattle, WA
The 900 series processor does work. Before I attempted it, I updated the Dell Bios to the latest (A05) rev. The box came to me with the A04 rev.

I do not know if the A04 rev will support the 900 series, but the A05 definitely does.

I have not left the box on long enough to get really warm, so I don't know how much improvement in heat load will come of this. Hopefully it will be enough so that the main fan doesn't ramp up quite as far.

Next up will be the hard drive. I've got a SATA 2.5" HD on order, and we'll see if I can figure out how to suspend it in the lone 3.5" bay.

- Ken


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 11:26 am 
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I was looking to get this system off ebay for around 300-400 dollar. I really like the sleek design and form factor along with the dual core and 1GB of ram. One thing that is stopping me though is that it only house 1 HDD. I really wish it could have hold 2 HDD, so I can fit two 500GB hard drive and make a 1TP unit. I plan on uploading a lot of anime to the HDD and use the computer as a media center. Even though it has USB slot, I don't want a lot of external case sticking out of the system. The 250GB that the system include is really not enough, especially as technology advances, more storage will be needed.

Anyways, does anybody know if there is any barebone case that look similar to the "slim design" xps200 (12x4 stand upright) and will house 2 HDD?


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 Post subject: 3.5" vs 2.5" hard drive
PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 11:40 am 
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Location: Seattle, WA
I finally received the 2.5" hard drive today, and got a chance to test it out.

The default drive in my XPS is a Seagate 7200.9 160 GB drive.

The 2.5" drive is a Fujitsu MHV2060BH 60 GB drive.

The 2.5" is noticably quieter than the default 3.5" drive, which is to be expected. The 3.5" drive spins at 7200 rpm vs only 5400 rpm for the 2.5" after all. Seek noise is also louder on the default 3.5" drive.

Of interest, I found some performance settings in the XPS Bios that allows drive acoustics adjustment. Settings are: Bypass, Quiet, Performance, and Recommended (I think). Bypass is for older drives that don't support the settings. Recommended is the manufacturer's default settings. Quiet and Performance are self explanatory.

With the 2.5" drive, I couldn't perceive a significant difference between the settings. It is possible the Fujitsu doesn't have the capabilities. On the default Seagate, there is a very noticable difference in head seek noise between Performance mode and Quiet mode. I'll have to run some tests to measure drive performance penalties for Quiet mode, but it didn't seem to have a huge difference on Windows startup times. A little slower, but not really noticable unless you're specifically testing/timing it. I find it's a very worthwhile tradeoff going to Quiet mode.

That said, even in Quiet mode, the 2.5" drive is quieter still. With my ears 6" away from the open case, I can detect hard drive seek noise, but all other sounds are masked by the power supply buzz/fan noise.

The next step will be to start loading the CPU to see if I can raise the CPU temp and get the main fan spinning faster.

All in all, I'm very pleased with the little box. If I could just solve the power supply issue, I'd be ecstatic.

Towards that end, I'm going to try using a PW-200-M from Mini-box.com. The power supply in the XPS200 is only 275 watts. I think I'm going to try running it on a dual power supply. I'll feed the PW-200-M from a 200w external brick, and I'll feed the CPU 4-pin connector directly from a second external 12v 100w brick slaved off the first.

- Ken


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jun 05, 2006 10:04 pm 
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Location: San Diego, CA
I switched to the the "Quiet" HDD setting from the BIOS" since day 2, and agree: it does a great job at quieting down the seek noise - good enough for my taste and configuration. (8-10 feet away).
I tried to run the processor as single core too (another bios option) but it did not make a convinceing difference in terms of heatloading, so may as well use the dual core mode.

Ken, please let us know when you get a feel for if the 930 makes a big difference compared to the 820 - I may swap processors too if so as the dominant noise for my rig is the main fan's noise when it picks up speed as the system warms up.

I like the Seagate drive for that box because it does get hot in there (up to 55C) and they have the highest published operating temperature (59C last time I checked). In that case, things are cramped and the CPU heatsink's air exhaust is blowing right at the drive - not ideal.
Also, I lied and ended up getting a 7300GS but I removed its fan and it runs nice (and hot!). GPU's can sustain 90C no problem (130C core slowdown temp, mine runs at 80C under load) and it's worth - to me - having good video horspower even if it may mean replacing a $70 card after a few years. A 6600 fanless would run about as hot - I think - because this case has almost no airflow in the add-on card area.
All in all, extremely happy with that box as well, as it makes a very capable small HTPC/game machine so far.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2008 3:06 am 
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Too bad this thread didn't finish, Jun '06 last post.

I have the Dell xps 200 and it is the nosiest dang thing!!! It gets so load it can be heard on the other side of the house, no lie! I would describe it as a mini vacuum or a mini jet engine hum and whirl sound and a bit of a wine. After cleaning dust debris from the back and front it can get quiet for about 15 minutes, then it starts again. I clean it very often.

Because of the noise I HATE this PC :evil: . I would like to change the power supply and the front fan thingy but I don't know what to get. I'm handy enough to take things apart and replace them but I would botch any soldering kind of stuff.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 4:03 pm 
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Location: NY
Binky wrote:
Too bad this thread didn't finish, Jun '06 last post.

I have the Dell xps 200 and it is the nosiest dang thing!!! It gets so load it can be heard on the other side of the house, no lie! I would describe it as a mini vacuum or a mini jet engine hum and whirl sound and a bit of a wine. After cleaning dust debris from the back and front it can get quiet for about 15 minutes, then it starts again. I clean it very often.

Because of the noise I HATE this PC :evil: . I would like to change the power supply and the front fan thingy but I don't know what to get. I'm handy enough to take things apart and replace them but I would botch any soldering kind of stuff.


I agree.. this is by far the noisest PC I've ever had. It gets about as loud as some HP ProLiant Servers.

I've had the fan replaced by Dell and that works for awhile, but eventually it just gets loud again. I think the biggest problem is that it needs to be cleaned often to be kept quiet. I loved it when I first got it... it was barely noticeable but then it just starts getting louder and louder and louder.

Anyone replace the OEM fan on this?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2008 4:22 am 
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Location: NJ
The noise is driving me crazy! I can hear it 20 feet away! It sounds like a jet taking off. I thought it was the fan and ordered a new fan. I replaced it and it didn't help. So I thought the high pitched whine I was hearing was from the hard drive so I order a new quiet Seagate - and THAT didn't help. (At least I went from a 150 GB to a 300 GB HD.)

Last night, the fan wound down and it got a lot quieter. It's GOT to be the fan. The question is this: is there another fan that might be quieter or a different way to cool the CPU?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2008 5:56 am 
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Location: NY
bobdros wrote:
The noise is driving me crazy! I can hear it 20 feet away! It sounds like a jet taking off. I thought it was the fan and ordered a new fan. I replaced it and it didn't help. So I thought the high pitched whine I was hearing was from the hard drive so I order a new quiet Seagate - and THAT didn't help. (At least I went from a 150 GB to a 300 GB HD.)

Last night, the fan wound down and it got a lot quieter. It's GOT to be the fan. The question is this: is there another fan that might be quieter or a different way to cool the CPU?


It's the fan. If you're still under warranty, ask Dell Support to send you a new fan... ask specifically for the SUNON replacement and not the Sans Ace. It's still not the quiet, but it is way better than the Sans Ace. See my post here:

http://www.silentpcreview.com/forums/vi ... hp?t=46405

I'm looking for a non-oem replacement that's quiet, but the connector doesn't look standard.

You can also try cleaning the fan and the heat sink out of dust. The "cage" on the case also should be cleaned. That'll help quiet things down too. Dust plays a major part in the noise. I love the form factor of the PC, but it's poorly designed for air circulation.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 9:24 am 
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Location: NJ
They sent me the Sans Ace fan. I'll try blowing the dust out to see if that helps.

I was browsing "Fans" in the forum and I saw that there are some fans out there that are supposed be very quiet. Are they compatible with the Dell XPS210?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 05, 2008 2:37 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA
Well... The major reason that I never finished the thread is because of many of the same reasons that you've all found.

The power supply is clearly a problem area, and while I did toy around with the PWM-200 module (it does work), my fabrication skills aren't good enough to produce something within a reasonable amount of time.

Beyond that, we've moved on to Core chips, which are easier to cool, and for which the XPS200 doesn't support. You need to step up to the XPS210 for that.

I'm going to pick up a Shuttle PC62 for one of my older Shuttles. I'll take a quick peek to see if it can fit nicely into the XPS. That may be the right solution for the power supply problem. I'm still a couple weeks away from getting the PC62, so it'll be a bit before I can test it.

The front fan is a 4-pin fan using a non-standard header. One of the things that was on the list to try was to determine the pinout and see if we can use any normal 4-pin PWM fan.

Overall, this project just sorta fell of my map, because the effort involved was just too large for the gains made. With the limitations of the form factor (namely low-profile add in cards), there were very few applications that this box could really succeed in.

Cheers!


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 Post subject: power supply issues...
PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 9:41 am 
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Location: Christmaschickentown, MI
Hello k2tsai : ) I am having issues with my XPS 200 as well. I bought it brand new in 2006 and after a while realized that I couldn't do too much upgrading (thanks alot Dell!).

Well, I put in a 300G HD and added a ATI 650 Combo PCI-E TV card and switched the video card to a ATI 2400 PRO video card.

It ran pretty good for about a year but that was with a Dell 20" LCD monitor. Now, I upgraded to a Hanns-G HFG281D and my video card will not load the drivers while the computer keeps coming back from power failures with the error message: ati2dvag caught in infinite loop.

From the reading I've been doing, I tihnk maybe I'm pushing my PS too hard now.

I'm very interested in how you configured the PW-200-M.

Could you post or send me detailed instructions? I cannot find ANY PS that is a higher output than the 275W that is in this XPS already. If you did, let me know about that as well, please. You can contact me at markschu where the mail is REALLY warm ; ) (first post, won't let me write the email address...lol)

Thanks a million!


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 Post subject: my solutions to noisy XPS 200
PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 1:57 pm 
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Posts: 1
Location: California
of course, as everyone has said, it may make a huge difference to disassemble the heat sink and fan according to these instructions:

support dell com/support/edocs/systems/xps200/sm/parts1.htm#wp1075274

and then clear out all dust and debris and clean all these seperate parts. make sure not to set the heat sink assembly with the temperature-safe goo face down! (as it says in the instructions! but not always followed)

i also have found that the cd-rom drive can create horrible rattling noises because it is slightly loose. to solve this, i inserted folded paper in the top part of the cd-rom drive bay so that the whole assemble would not have any room to move around (this is done inside the computer with the cover off). it has worked ok so far... bottom line is this is a noisy PC, especially if you are in a warm climate.


enjoy the silence!
www puresilence org


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