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Dell Dimension 4600 hard drive/what to get

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Dell Dimension 4600 hard drive/what to get

This question has been answered by picturethis62


My old hard drive on my Dell Dimension 4600 (2004 512mb 400mhz Pentium 4 Processor 2.8GHz)  is about to die and I would like to replace it with a 250gb, the old one is a 80gb...I will be using a hard drive enclosure to move/save files.   Looking to spend under $100.

Would like to know what you guys recommend on what to get (specs), any info help would be greatly appreciated



Verified Answer
  • Haha, yes it does, man I'm learning, thank you so much!  No more questions, lol

    Thanks again

All Replies
  • The Dimension 4600 has the capability to use either PATA or SATA 3.5" hard disk drives.  If you are still using Windows XP it has a practical limit on capacity of 2 TB.  If you want to use a SATA drive you will also need to purchase a Molex to SATA power connector since the standard power supply has only the Molex power connectors available.

    If you are sticking with a PATA drive you may not need the external hard drive enclosure.  The Dimension 4600 was normally delivered with a three connector 80 wire IDE ribbon data cable.  This allows you to attach a slave drive to the primary IDE port.  To clone your original drive you would need only to temporarily set the new hard drive against the bracket containing your original drive, connect the power and data cables, and boot from a CD that has your imaging program on it.  Both Seagate and Western Digital have versions of Acronis True Image that allow you to clone your old drive to a new one.  Just be sure to set the drive jumper to the Cable Select position before plugging it in.

    Trying the same thing going to SATA from PATA is something I haven't seen tried, though it should work in theory

    Dell Forum member since 2005

  • Thanks so much, wish I could hire you for an hour to do all this, ha....

  • You should not spend much if anything on an 8 year old model. Stay with the same type drive you have now to keep cost down and make the install easy and even consider a good used drive. There is still a hard drive shortage so prices are up. You can buy a whole new computer for $300 now, so spending $100 on your old one would not be cost effective. Look--

  • My old drive has a lot of stuff on it I need, if I did buy a new one, could this be moved to the new one, if it can, how do I go about that.  I'm not very computer intelligent :)

  • This looks reasonable:

    Acronis TrueImage will "clone" the old hard drive to the new one, so that not only will all your files be copied over, but you won't have to reinstall the OS and your applications. Some of the hard drive manufacturers, including Seagate and Western Digital, offer a free image, but it can also be bought separately. I bought mine from Newegg on a bootable CD.

  • So do I leave the old hard drive in, and add the new one, then run TrueImage?????  Probably a Duh question, haha....Trust me, I'm stupid when it comes to this, I see these things like slave, ports, cables, huh, haha.....But I do like to learn

  • Oh, and what do I get as far as a hard drive, the PATA or SATA, 250GB is what it looks like as far as compatible, I'm thinking I have a PATA in there now, which would make it easier on me if I stuck with the same, right??? haha

  • PATA is deprecated -- I suggest a SATA drive (which the 4600 supports).

  • The 4600 has issues with SATA.

    I set all drives from Cable Select to Master/Slave then use IDE to SATA Bridge from Kingwin.

    You cannot do mixed mode where some are cable select and some are master/Slave.

    You must set ALL DRIVES including optical to master or slave accordingly.

    If you only have 1 drive and 1 dvd then set both master.

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  • picturethis62;

    Yes, sticking with a PATA drive would be the most straightforward thing to do.  You could install the new drive on the Primary IDE slave port to make the transfer very easy.  Both Seagate and Western Digital have free versions of Acronis True Image to help you transfer your data from the old drive to the new one.

    With regard to the SATA ports, the Dimension 4600 has a bridge from PATA to SATA so that your operating system will treat the SATA drive as though it were a PATA drive.  This was done intentionally so that you do not need SATA drivers on this machine.  The only sticky point is that if you install a SATA drive on the first SATA port, the BIOS insists that this drive be used as the boot drive for the computer.  It is possible to use a hard drive on the IDE port as a second drive once you have set up the SATA boot drive, but there is no option in the BIOS that allows the computer to boot from it.  I'm afraid I don't know if this characteristic would affect the ability of the computer to handle the transfer of data from your old PATA drive to a new SATA drive.

    Dell Forum member since 2005

  • Ok, in that case I will stick with a PATA, and go the easy route, One last question, which you probably answered before, but will ask again, which drive can I use, up to 250 or can I use 500 and what site can I buy it at.  Thanks for all your help, I will post when it is up and running :)

  • You should have no trouble with any PATA hard drive that you can find.  As one of our fellow members pointed out, PATA is becoming more scarce so you will almost certainly need to find an on-line vendor.  There are several that offer reasonable deals.  If you live in the U.S. you can check which is where I get my drives.  My favorites are Seagate and Western Digital, but if you can find a Hitachi, Samsung, or Toshiba drive that you like I see no problem using it.  I've heard various opinions on all of them and it is possible to get a lemon from any, but better than 90% of the time the drives I've gotten have lasted five years or more.

    Getting back to the size of the drive, the Dimension 4600 has BIOS support for really huge drives, well into the multi-Terabyte range.  The practical limit, however, is 2 TB.  I don't think you will find any PATA drives that large, which is why I stated that you should have no trouble with any size PATA hard drive you can purchase.  You can purchase SATA drives as large as 3 TB now, but in order to use one of those you would need to be using Vista or Windows 7 so that you could use the GPT partitioning scheme.  That would not be practical on the Dimension 4600, however, since in order to boot from such a drive you need a computer that has the UEFI type BIOS.

    EDIT:  Forgot to mention that you should check the jumper block on the drive you purchase before installing it into the computer.  Dells like to have the jumper set to Cable Select (CSEL) rather than Master or Slave, so if you forget to set it you may find you have some strange behavior.

    Dell Forum member since 2005

  • Took out the old hard drive and the bracket for the second drive, what cable hook into the new hard drive, not seeing any extra cables in there, since I am going to clone the old one to the new one.  Is there a tutorial to do this, man I feel stupid, ha

  • The wide ribbon that goes to your primary hard drive; does it not have a connector in the middle of it?  That middle connector is for the second hard drive.  So far as power is concerned you can use any of the four pin Molex connectors that look like the one plugged into your primary hard drive.

    Dell Forum member since 2005

  • Haha, yes it does, man I'm learning, thank you so much!  No more questions, lol

    Thanks again