A few years ago, my Father in law got a new computer and I inherited an Optiplex 745. Because it was painfully sluggish and had XP as the main OS, this computer had been sitting around for a couple years without much use. I love how small and quiet it is though, so I decided to do a cheap upgrade with used parts. There are so many used parts available on ebay these days, that if you like to tinker with old equipment you can probably find anything you need.

After installing Linux Mint 19.3 on a SSD, I flashed the bios with the help of Rufus*. I Then upgraded the RAM from 2.5 GB to 6 GB using 2 sticks found on ebay. I also found a deal and upgraded the CPU from a 1.8 ghz Core 2 Duo to a 2.4 ghz Q6600 quad core, and then purchased a cheap low-pro video card.

There are still quite a few of these old Optiplex 745’s out there, and instead of tossing yours you might think about upgrading. I don’t do anything very demanding with this one, but for surfing, document creation/editing, light gaming and such, it’s a smooth performer. It’s a really decent backup box in case your main box is out of commission for some reason.

Free Parts:

  • Optiplex 734
  • Linux Mint 19.3 Tricia (Cinnamon Edition)
  • Used 128GB Samsung SSD (had this laying around, but I see lots for $15 – $20)

Purchased Parts:

  • 4GB KIT 2 x 2GB Memory RAM Kit for Dell Optiplex 740 745 755 760 960 960D PC DT – $9.72
  • Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 SLACR 2.40 GHz Desktop Processor – $9.73
  • Radeon HD 7450 1GB GDDR3 Low Profile DVI DP PCI-E x16 Video Card Lenovo 03T8170 – $14.00
  • Arctic Silver 5 High-Density Polysynthetic Silver Thermal Compound – $6.43

Total = $39.88 + SSD cost

* Rufus is a handy utility that helps format and create bootable USB flash drives. Find it free at https://rufus.ie/ – It’s a small program for converting a normal flash drive into a complete bootable USB from which you can directly start in DOS. Configuring the program is as simple as inserting the device you want to format, marking the options you want, and clicking “start.” In just a few seconds your new bootable USB for DOS drive will be ready.