Dell Precision 670 - Repairing, tuning, and bringing back from the dead

Sitting here I have a dell precision 670. It has pci express, currently has DDR2 (not sure if it can take 3, I think the next series up can but not this one), Sata, and Dual Xeons. I got this bot for free from a friend because he didn't do any research on it and thought it was from 1999.

At the moment I don't know anything about it. I am about to take it into the garage and shoot the dust out with an air compressor and slot in my old GEForce 4 MX4000 because I know it works and it isn't a rage 128.

My plan is to put a new-ish GT330 in it. I can get one for 20 bucks. The one I had before it died handled games and stuff really well and since I can get ram for the box for 5 bucks locally (it only has 1 gig of ram right now sadly) parts can be easily found. So, why not?

I had a few thoughts for it. Make it a linux box for editing and gaming (like emulators and stuff), make it a windows box for..... something? Or, make it a hackintosh and make it actually do something useful. I don't have a mac aside from my powerpc laptops so that might be the direction I go. I'm also really happy that it has IDE as well as Sata as I have a lot of IDE stuff and not a lot of sata.

Oh yeah it also has firewire 800 so that will be fun to fiddle with.

So, what should I do with it?

EDIT: I'm curious if @DeusQain or @Logan would have any fun ideas.

Edit 2: Ideas are still welcome but I think I will make this a repair log (build log didn't fit and there isn't a repair log item here) for anyone who might have this machine and this problem for future reference.

Ok now I have a problem. I booted the box up and it gives me a beep code in the order 1 - 3 - 2. Apparently this could be the power supply, ram, or that there isn't a ram fan plugged in. A and C are green, but B and D are an Amber color. Plugging in my spare power supply didn't let it even start, the system refused it, and removing all the ram as well as the cards just kicked out the same beep code.

Update: After looking up the beep codes and the correlation to the status lights on the box and everything else that was available, the problem appeared to be the ram and or ram slots. I decided to clean the ram and slots with isopropyl alcohol and upon cleaning I discovered the ram and slots were rather dirty. I hope that does it but I will let the machine dry out over night.

Also the machine not only supports PCIe, but it also has PCIe power lines. Well, it has one. The power supply is rated at 650 watts so I have decided that if I don't use something new I will use my 9800 GT in this box. It also supports 16 GB of ram and might end up being a really nice gamer. Seeing as I was playing skyrim on a pentium 4 at the beginning of this year and that this is a dual xeon machine, I think I can do a lot more than I thought with it.

Excitement brews.

Update 2: Further work on the machine has shown that it no matter what needs ECC ram. I know the motherboard and other parts are fine because other parts and indicator lights function perfectly fine. Also if the mobo was dead than my 9800 GT wouldn't do anything and the box wouldn't refuse both the other power supply and my dead GT330.

I am going to get 8 gigs of PC2-3200R. I currently have 4200U. That's not going to work and I am guessing the guy I got this box from may have swapped the memory out for something else he needed it for.


If you are buying new RAM, I would check they tend to have a good handle on what systems are compatible with what memory.

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I have one of those. for upgrading ram your going to have to look into the documentation there are some weird requirements.

Update 3: I found out that ram has to be ECC, Registered, and unbuffered. Looking into it PC2-3200R is the only thing that will fit that and I can get 8 gigs for 20 bucks on ebay.

Edit: I find it wierd that this machine can take 16 gigs of ram. It's basically 4 steps up from the desktop I had earlier this year too. If I get a 270X on sale for it I can do editing and recording with it and it will be glorious. Gaming will be researched.

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Looking at what I can actually do with this box. Is gaming possible with ECC ram? I imagine a program would request error correction.


My IT manager just raided my office for one of these systems. Power supply or mother board salvage for one that was still in the field. The absolute worst workstations Dell ever built in my 15 years experience but, have at you. They respond very well to Ps2 mice and keyboard so have those at hand while trying to optimize and turn it into something to be proud of. I really remember these as being RAMBUS systems.

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Someone went and bought all of the ram I was looking at and now all that is left is what might be at the local parts depot or 80 dollars for 256 mb ram (not really, but like 60 dollars for 1 gb srsly)

exactly, we had spent all that could be on keeping them alive in that generation, some of the prices made me cry. Eventually because of the fleet we did have it was all a wash and the long life did mean we did not loose money but it was a mistake the poor guy servicing those 670's in a dirty environment made me cry. I think we are just about done with them but just today funny enough, like I said the IT manager came in looking for one, I had 2, 1 no harddrive, just as salvage, 1 some unknown precious legacy system.

To be honest I wouldn't waste my moeny on Dell's from this era. I used to have a Dell Precision 470 which seems to be almost exactly the same as your system. The VRM add-in cards that allow the use of the second CPU are really failure prone. The RAM is annoyingly expensive unless you catch a liquidation deal. And even once I had mine fully spec'd out the dual Xeons were a massive bottleneck for nearly everything I tried to do. Unless you plan to use it as a cheap file server or something of that nature I would just stay away from pouring money into it. The performance gains are negligible in comparison to the same money put towards a modern system.