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Dell Precision T5500 CPU upgrade

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Dell Precision T5500 CPU upgrade

This question has been answered by GrahamBright
I have been researching this and since I am not so computer hardware savvy I think I must ask. It has the 0D883F mobo with the E5504 cpus (x2). I want to upgrade to the fastest and most cores possible. I considered buying a used T5500 and swaping the cpu's (cheapest option), but there are so many different cpus in used T5500's even though finding the mobo specs only show compatibility for 5500 series cpu's. Found a used T5500 with the X5650's (x2) and are six cores which would be great for my work in Maya and multiple 3D and picture/video editing work. This might be the best option so I can swap the cpu's to my system, but I am unsure of what would actually need swapped. The 6 core cpu's are TDP 95w and the E5504's are 80w. Anyone know if this is feasible at all? and what I would need to swap over? I am not even sure if the mobo is the same as the used one, but it looks like it in the pictures. Can I run a TDP 95w cpu on my mobo that now has 80w cpus? Thanks a bunch
Verified Answer
  • Yeap, you can read more about it here (mostly on the second page of comments. First page has pics and stuff): http://en.community.dell.com/support-forums/desktop/f/3514/t/19370823.aspx?pi21953=2

    But the gist of it is the stock aluminum primary heatsink is bad. Actually it is a low end model (according to Dell) and the performance heatsink for the primary cpu is part number U016F. These are very easy to find on ebay (like for $15). Anyway, this fixed the problem with mine overheating with the dual x5650 cpu's. I actually put x5675's in my other T5500 and it runs a bit hotter than the x5650's but still very manageable compared to with the aluminum heatsink (part number T021F). Ther is not much of a difference in the 2 cpu's (both running 6 cores and 95watts) except for the clock speed. In my tests with Maya, the difference in performance between the 2 is nominal. As for the difference in motherboards? I still have no idea. Dell could not even answer this other than the newer board having a "C2" whatever that is. We figured that it would not change the cooling on the board at all though, so the primary culprit was the primary heatsink. This is all hard to track down because things are not too logical (at least to me). The system monitors I used (3 of them) was showing the overheating cpu was #1 (when numbered #0 and #1) making me believe the riser cpu (secondary) was the one overheating. The Dell diagnostic was stressing cpu#0 and the monitors showed the cpu#1 heating up. Had me going insane. I finally pulled the riser out (effectively making a single cpu machine) and confirmed that the primary was the one overheating. That primary Heatsink is all the problem and you should definately use the larger (better) U016F heatsink on the primary no matter what. The riser one has no options to change from what I can find. There was only one option I believe on that for both the T5500's and T7500's. If one wanted to upgrade to the X5680's (run at 135watts), I do think both cpu's would overheat and would not be able to be cooled by the heatsinks in the system. But I would love to be proven wrong about that. I think the x5680's are the fastest cpu's we could put in these systems (on these mobos anyway). Hope this helps.

    Mike

  • Hi,

    just to add my experiences. I have 2 T5500's and both have been running fantastically well.

    The first came with a single x5660 and aluminium heat sink. It didn't overheat, but I upgraded to twin x5660's, added the beefier U016F and maxed it up to 72GB - well I believe it's the max, but that's another topic :-)  It's been running perfectly. The motherboard is the newer 0CHR6C.

    I managed to pick up a second machine and daughter board for little money. This had the older 0D883F motherboard. I had a couple of spare x5660's and really struggled to find info to say whether these would work on the older motherboard. I decided to update to the latest BIOS, and installed both x5660 and 18GB memory. It all worked fine and no overheating issues. Again, I upgraded to the better heatsink.

    On the first machine, I did some stress testing with the aluminium heating and never really hit any problems, but I didn't run for a particular long time. I preferred to use others experience and go for the better U016F. They can be still be picked up relatively inexpensively. I suspect in part, the act of renewing the thermal paste and ensuring a good build helped as much as anything.

    So to conclude, I think you can get hold of these machines for very little money, upgrade to the x56xx series, pick up plenty of second hand ECC RAM (which is cheaper than P.C. equivalent) and get a great value performance workstation. If you are able to make use of the multi-cores, pair up with a decent graphics card, the performance is fantastic.

    I think the only thing I'd do now, is perhaps look at a SSD. I suspect correctly configures, start up and office software speed would be even better.

    Hope that helps.

    It'll be great to hear how you get on with yours and how any upgrades go.

  • I have a 0D883F motherboard running with dual x5660. As you state it does require you are on the latest BIOS. I believe support was added in one of the slightly earlier BIOS updates to support X56nn and E56nn microcode, but simplest to just get the latest. The 0CRH6C is a latest version of the motherboard and supports the same.

    It's certainly a good way to get a high performance setup. You can pick up ex-corporate workstation with the old E55nn processor, and pick up the  much higher spec processors for relatively low cost. I would recommend upgrading to the higher performance heat sink, U016F, if you have the aluminium version T021F. I have some spare U016F so PM me if you need to source one.

All Replies
  • Well I finally found that there are 2 different mobo's for the T5500. 0D883F (mine bought in early 2010) and 0CRH6C which replaced mine from July 2010 and on. Looks like mine accepts 5500 series cpus ([ADMIN NOTE: Profanity removed per TOU]) and the other does the 5600 series up to 6 cores per cpu. So now my questions is: If I buy a used T5500 with the 0CRH6C board and the dual 6 core processors, could I just transplant my hard drives, ram and graphics card from my T5500 to the other one with the newer mobo? I am assuming with this transplant, it would boot up just like mine now but under the new mobo and stuff. This would allow me not to have to re-install everything (software) on the newer computer. Is this correct thinking or am I completely off my rocker here? Thanks

  • That should work ... the other devices shouldn't be an issue.  You'll just need to make sure that your "new" T5500 carries the same Windows license as your old T5500, since OEM licenses cannot be transferred.  You will also need to reboot after booting up the first time for the new devices to take effect.  How is your storage set up - RAID? non-RAID? Controller card/onboard?

  • Thanks a bunch for your reply. I kind of went a different route and need some T5500 expertise haha. I bought a used T5500 that was significantly upgraded. I see how it was originally shipped and how it is now. On to the problem: It came with dual X5650 cpu's (6 core cpus with HT and turbo). I have researched till blue in the face but I see this computer also has the 0D883F motherboard and the same heatsinks as my other (bought new) T5500 with dual E5504 cpu's. The problem is that the X5650's are overheating within 7 minutes while taxing (rendering or simulating in Maya) to 100% usage. Overheating to me is the core temperatures are up to the high 80's C. This is on the second cpu, the primary is pretty warm as well but 10-12 C cooler. The Tcase for the cpu per intel is 81.25 C. This is not good. My research shows that (like stated earlier) that the 0D883F mobo supports 55xx series cpu's and the 0CRH6C (that started July 2010) supports 56xx series cpu's. I have to assume there is a difference in the mobo's heatsinks and maybe the fans to compensate for the higher wattage for the cpu's (95 instead of 80) as well as the extra temperature that is surly being created by the hex cores with HT and turbo. I cannot find any information about what heatsinks and fan part numbers shipped with the 0CRH6C mobo T5500's running dual 95w cpu's. This computer has the exact same stuff as my other T5500 with E5504 cpu's, and it is not working haha. I did redo the compounds on both cpu's (which is another story all together). Can someone tell me if the 0CRH6C motherboards with dual hex core cpus had different heatsinks, fans etc than the 0D883F motherboards? Or just look and give me numbers off theirs if they have the newer board with hex cores? I would greatly appreciate it. Mike
  • I figured this all out and all is well now. Thanks!!
  • Could you explain how you achieved a resolution. Thanks.

  • Yeap, you can read more about it here (mostly on the second page of comments. First page has pics and stuff): http://en.community.dell.com/support-forums/desktop/f/3514/t/19370823.aspx?pi21953=2

    But the gist of it is the stock aluminum primary heatsink is bad. Actually it is a low end model (according to Dell) and the performance heatsink for the primary cpu is part number U016F. These are very easy to find on ebay (like for $15). Anyway, this fixed the problem with mine overheating with the dual x5650 cpu's. I actually put x5675's in my other T5500 and it runs a bit hotter than the x5650's but still very manageable compared to with the aluminum heatsink (part number T021F). Ther is not much of a difference in the 2 cpu's (both running 6 cores and 95watts) except for the clock speed. In my tests with Maya, the difference in performance between the 2 is nominal. As for the difference in motherboards? I still have no idea. Dell could not even answer this other than the newer board having a "C2" whatever that is. We figured that it would not change the cooling on the board at all though, so the primary culprit was the primary heatsink. This is all hard to track down because things are not too logical (at least to me). The system monitors I used (3 of them) was showing the overheating cpu was #1 (when numbered #0 and #1) making me believe the riser cpu (secondary) was the one overheating. The Dell diagnostic was stressing cpu#0 and the monitors showed the cpu#1 heating up. Had me going insane. I finally pulled the riser out (effectively making a single cpu machine) and confirmed that the primary was the one overheating. That primary Heatsink is all the problem and you should definately use the larger (better) U016F heatsink on the primary no matter what. The riser one has no options to change from what I can find. There was only one option I believe on that for both the T5500's and T7500's. If one wanted to upgrade to the X5680's (run at 135watts), I do think both cpu's would overheat and would not be able to be cooled by the heatsinks in the system. But I would love to be proven wrong about that. I think the x5680's are the fastest cpu's we could put in these systems (on these mobos anyway). Hope this helps.

    Mike

  • tsefreeflow - I was wondering how your various T5500 machines are doing these days and how they are configured?  I just picked up a single-CPU T5500 with a E5507 under a T021F heatsink on a 0CHR6C motherboard and would like to upgrade. 

  • Hi,

    just to add my experiences. I have 2 T5500's and both have been running fantastically well.

    The first came with a single x5660 and aluminium heat sink. It didn't overheat, but I upgraded to twin x5660's, added the beefier U016F and maxed it up to 72GB - well I believe it's the max, but that's another topic :-)  It's been running perfectly. The motherboard is the newer 0CHR6C.

    I managed to pick up a second machine and daughter board for little money. This had the older 0D883F motherboard. I had a couple of spare x5660's and really struggled to find info to say whether these would work on the older motherboard. I decided to update to the latest BIOS, and installed both x5660 and 18GB memory. It all worked fine and no overheating issues. Again, I upgraded to the better heatsink.

    On the first machine, I did some stress testing with the aluminium heating and never really hit any problems, but I didn't run for a particular long time. I preferred to use others experience and go for the better U016F. They can be still be picked up relatively inexpensively. I suspect in part, the act of renewing the thermal paste and ensuring a good build helped as much as anything.

    So to conclude, I think you can get hold of these machines for very little money, upgrade to the x56xx series, pick up plenty of second hand ECC RAM (which is cheaper than P.C. equivalent) and get a great value performance workstation. If you are able to make use of the multi-cores, pair up with a decent graphics card, the performance is fantastic.

    I think the only thing I'd do now, is perhaps look at a SSD. I suspect correctly configures, start up and office software speed would be even better.

    Hope that helps.

    It'll be great to hear how you get on with yours and how any upgrades go.

  • Thanks for the update GrahamBright.  Good to hear of your successes. 

    Did you ever locate the specs for the motherboards? either the 0CHR6C or the 0D883F?  And do you have any idea if there is enough room in the T5500 for the even-larger U402F heatsink?

    I'm watching the prices on the 6-core x56xx's and U016F heatsinks, and, once I have time to figure out configuration, will be looking into an ssd upgrade as well.

  • I never managed to find specification details and looking at the two motherboards side by side there aren't many difference. One difference is that one of the chips (not main CPU) on the 0D883F has a fan attached whereas the newer 0CHR6C had a passive heatsink. I can't say I noticed any difference in background noise between the two.

    It's a guess on my part, but I suspect when the 0CHR6C started shipping, it supported the e56xx and x56xx chips immediately. A BIOS update perhaps became generally available at a later date to allow those on the 0D833F to upgrade to the better processors. I did once track down exactly which BIOS release added the x56xx, but it was quite a slog to do, but I just jumped to the latest and all has been well.

    I believe the U402F is intended to go in the T7500 machine. I don't know if it would fit the T5500. You'd need to get the dimensions of the U402F to be certain, but bear in mind the T7500 is bigger and roomier. Even if it did fit, I'm not sure it would be much better - presumably the Dell designers looked at airflow in each, so I'd probably stick with the U016F.

    Which country are you looking to source the processors from? I got my x5660's off ebay from a trader in Ireland for approx. £90 - he's doing a matched pair now for £134, although is currently only listing postal charges for Europe.

    Good luck with the build!

  • Hello, this is an old thread, but it is hard to google any clear answer about cpus- mobos compatibility in those models. Can somebody confirm that after bios upgrade both  0D883F and 0CRH6C  motherboards will accept the same processors? I will get t5500 with e5520 cpu, and I am a bit confused with upgrade possibilities.

  • I have a 0D883F motherboard running with dual x5660. As you state it does require you are on the latest BIOS. I believe support was added in one of the slightly earlier BIOS updates to support X56nn and E56nn microcode, but simplest to just get the latest. The 0CRH6C is a latest version of the motherboard and supports the same.

    It's certainly a good way to get a high performance setup. You can pick up ex-corporate workstation with the old E55nn processor, and pick up the  much higher spec processors for relatively low cost. I would recommend upgrading to the higher performance heat sink, U016F, if you have the aluminium version T021F. I have some spare U016F so PM me if you need to source one.

  • Thanks for your answer. With some searching I was already quite sure that bios update makes older motherboards compatible with 56XX series cpus. However, on many threads around the web people are still confused with this, and some are even trying to upgrade their motherboards to get six core compatibility. Yesterday I received t5500 with E5520 processor. I will probably upgrade to quad w3580 or w5580 as they are cheap, and their single core performance is about the same as much more pricey six-core cpus (quad core should be enough for my needs) Thanks for your help with sourcing a better heat sink, but I am in Europe, and you're probably in America. I was also thinking about getting some active cooler with a fan for lga 1366 , I wonder how that would work. I  have t3500 too, and it gets pretty hot under heavier tasks.

  • Hi Graham,

    I've followed this thread and decided to bite the bullet and get dual X5670 as upgrades to my dual E5506 in T5500. You said you had a spare U016F. Is it still the case?


    What RAM would you suggest to get? I currently run 12GB and would like to increase that to at least 24GB

    Thank you,

    GrahamBright

  • I was able to find U016F heatsink. The way it looks, it's asking for a fan!

    Also, I went with 48GB (6x8GB) memory modules