old computers- are they worth fixing or replacing

Hi I have two older computers that are untested and I notice on both mainboards atleast one capacitor has leaked. So if I was to remove the board and change the bad capacitors, there is still a chance that the boards are bad but if they are going to run very slow then it is not even worth testing them or trying to change the caps.

The model numbers of the motherboards are as follows: Dell E210882 and here are the specs http://www.findlaptopdriver.com/dell-e210882-mainboard-specifications/

E187242  and here are the specs http://www.findlaptopdriver.com/specs-connolly-e187242-dell/

so I am just wondering if these are even worth testing or if they are so old that they are not even worth testing?
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Not worth your time in my opinion. Those are incredibly outdated motherboards and are never going to be quick. As you mentioned, theres also a very good chance that it's not just the capacitors that have failed on the mobo.
Nathan HawkinsTechnical Lead - Network SecurityCommented:
There's a linux distribution out called "Damn Small Linux" that makes very old computers still somewhat useful:


I use this linux distribution to make extremely small virtual linux web servers and use those in my lab for all kinds of tests. These distributions make it possible for an old computer to web browse, use OpenOffice (A Windows Office clone for linux). Research it out, who know maybe your two old computers can yet do something useful!

you dont even need a hard drive... You can make it so it boots from a USB drive... Its pretty amazing what DSL has turned into, but certainly worth considering!
EirmanChief Operations ManagerCommented:
Personally. I wouldn't bother repairing them.

Old memory sometimes gets a good price on ebay.

The hard disk(s) can be used for backups.

The old PSU can and the case can sometimes be used with newer motherboards.
Sometimes, newish motherboards with a processor & memory can be acquired fairly cheaply.
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
These are both Pentium 4 based systems => definitely NOT worth the effort to repair.

There's a fairly simple "rule of thumb" for whether older system are worth spending some time with ==> if they use a Core 2 or later CPU, then if they can be economically repaired they're probably worthwhile;   but anything that uses the old NetBurst architecture chips (P-4's) or earlier is simply nor worth the trouble.

Another way to determine that:   Look up the PassMark for the CPU that's used [ http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu_list.php ].    If it's under 750, you absolutely do NOT want to bother with it;  if it's between 750 and 1500, it's okay for a very basic e-mail/office setup ... especially if you're using Linux;  anything over 1500 is okay for most uses.   Obviously you also need to consider whether they have enough storage and memory for what you want to load on them.

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As already mentioned, they aren't worth repairing, particularly not the first one. The 2nd might just be, as it can take Dual Core CPU's (Pentium D), but it won't work with the more modern Core 2 Duo which gary mentioned. You'd probably also need another GPU, as the internal one won't give you the best performance.
Nathan HawkinsTechnical Lead - Network SecurityCommented:
Simply put, its worth it if whats being asked is I have a cpl of computers and Im wondering what I can do with them... With that said those computers PS's probably are like what - 250W each? and if you power monitor them they prolly only use 100-150W... And as I mentioned before by putting DSL on each of them, now you've got work stations that can browse the net, word process, check email and literally thousands other things at what cost? Hmmm...nothing?

Now if whats being asked is can I play current games and do multi-layer processing which involves 3 tier applications while hosting 3 VMs... The answer is obviously no, but Im about 90% positive that was never what was being asked...
I was still using one of the faster Pentium 4 computers until 18 months ago when I had exactly the same problem with leaking capacitors.  Had this been about 5 or 6 years ago I would probably have been tempted to replace the capacitors, because I am not in the fortunate position that I can buy new computers when I want to, but in this case I just crushed the hard drive with a sledge hammer (backups on external hard drive) and took the whole thing to the recycling dump along with a large amount of other accumulated computer components.

It wasn't worth my time keeping the RAM and trying to sell it on eBay, nor was it worth keeping the old IDE cables (PCs are now SATA) or processor.  The hard drive was already quite a few years old and quite small by the multi-terrabyte ones now even installed on laptops.  eBay is saturated with auctions for older memory and processors, and the small money I would have made did not justify the hassle of selling the parts, finding suitable packaging and anti-static bags, and taking the packages to the post office.

I managed to get a reasonably specified refurbished PC and restored my data from my external hard drive backups.

The only time it would be worthwhile replacing leaky capacitors an old P4 computer would be to gain soldering experience, or as a personal challenge.
last week, i putabout 10 of of these on the dump..
the only use i see is for experimenting - or if a software runs only on that kind of hardware
hydrive1902Author Commented:
thanks everyone! Gary- great info thanks again
Thank you hydrive1902
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