Knowledgebase:
Reworking a Dell workstation or Laptop
Posted by Jared Thomas, Last modified by Jared Thomas on 23 September 2016 09:08 AM

Follow these steps to rebuild a Dell system into better than new condition:

  1. Check the hard drive and replace if necessary. Dell tended to use Seagate HDDs on their Optiplex desktops which have a dismal failure rate and a nasty habit of reporting themselves as OK when they are in fact reallocating massive amounts of data and fixing errors, which makes the drives run extremely slow. Replacement comparable WD HDDs are very cheap and Samsung 850 Pros are not much more expensive as an upgrade. To test the drive, run gsmartcontrol from PORTABLE and look at the raw values for following attributes: Raw Read Error Rate, Reallocated Sector Count, Seek Error Rate, CRC/ECC Error Count, Offline Uncorrectable. If the I/O on the drive is noticeably slow and any of those attributes are showing high values, the drive is having trouble and should be proactively replaced.
  2. Upgrade the BIOS to the latest version by following these steps:
    1. Download the latest BIOS for the system from https://support.dell.com
    2. Copy the BIOS to a USB device formatted FAT32 and connect it to the system (does not need to be bootable)
    3. Boot the system to the boot selection menu (F12), select the BIOS Upgrade option, select the BIOS file from the boot device and upgrade the BIOS
  3. Reboot the system to the BIOS (F2) and set the following settings:
    1. General - Boot Sequence - set to UEFI
    2. General - Advanced - check Enable Legacy Boot Option
    3. System Configuration- Integrated NIC - select Enabled (no PXE)
    4. System Configuration - SMART Reporting - check Enable SMART reporting
  4. Reboot the system with the Windows 7 x64 SP1 disc in (the black disc) and boot to the Windows installer
  5. Install the operating system by going to Custom install and deleting any existing partitions if necessary
  6. Once installation is complete, set the system name to the user or position and set a local password
  7. Download and install the following drivers for the system from https://support.dell.com:
    1. Audio
    2. Chipset - chipset, USB 3 (xhci) and Intel ME (drivers only, no applications)
    3. Network - wired and wireless adapters
    4. Video - Intel on-board graphics adapter and outboard video card if installed
    5. Any other drivers for the system that may be missing
  8. Manually download and install the latest Windows Update Client from Microsoft and the install any and all missing Windows updates. This may take a while.
  9. Download, install and run Dell Command Update from https://support.dell.com and install any missing drivers or firmware
  10. If the drive is a traditional HDD, run Defraggler from PORTABLE and defrag the hard drive
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