Home > Dell, Hardware and Software, Windows Vista > Upgrading from Dell 710 H2C to 720 H2C

Upgrading from Dell 710 H2C to 720 H2C

October 2, 2007

So, I ordered my Dell 720 H2C Upgrade kit. Let me begin that the sales guy’s idea of a “trivial” installation is … like building a car from paper clips.  What I anticipated to be an hour or two… took me almost five hours.  To qualify that a bit—this is somewhat what I used to do for a job and I still maintain my Dell Technician certs (for the business class servers, Precision workstations, and Latitude laptops) today. The 700 series case is so tightly packed that there are a few cables with teflon coating them on specific spots—apparently they assumed they’d rub.  Getting in and around, pulling a few cables through that are replaced, and generally working is not meant for someone with large hands.  My hands are nicely cut up from the adventure. So, a few tips:

  • Take everything out.  Seriously.  Why?
    • It’s VERY painful to snake the front input panel ribbons behind the drive cages and power supply.
    • You can’t take the back cover off (well, without taking the power supply and media drive cages out and about 50 screws), so taking out the fan cages and such makes it easier to get to the front input panel.
  • Careful with the thermal grease.
    • They don’t give you very much, be conservative and realize that you don’t need to COAT it.
  • Put the memory and CPU on the board before you put it back in… save yourself some pain.
  • Label your cables and drives.
  • Make sure your cables and drives are labled somehow so you know where they go or take a photograph with your camera/cell phone/whatever first.

I did run into one snafu.  After booting up, I went into the BIOS to configure the processor, service tag, and RAID controller.  Made my changes, saved, exited… and it reverted on reboot.  Ehh.  I did this 3–4 more times and finally took a look at the event log.

    Type: “POST ERROR”   Message: “CMOS Checksum Error”

The book tells me that system configuration is incorrect and or my battery is dead.  I changed the battery (pulled it off the old motherboard) and nothing.  Bleh.  I Googled and found almost nothing relating to Dell PCs.  So, I rejumpered it, reboot a few times, no dice.  Finally called XPS Support and got ahold of a tech who was very nice but didn’t see anything in their books for my problem.  Well, while he was looking, I made a couple of changes in the BIOS. Under Maintenance, I set Load Defaults (well, clicked Continue)… I set the H2C color to green (so I could see if it reset), and it didn’t.  Wheeee!  Made a few more changes and everything seemed to stick.  I’m not sure why “loading the defaults” was more helpful than simply clearning the CMOS via the jumper, but oh well. So, told the Dell guy and was on my way.  I downloaded the 680i NVidia Drivers, reinstalled my Video Drivers, and everything is running smooth.

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  1. January 21, 2008 at 12:41 pm


    I have a Dell XPS710H2c and tried to up-grade the memory from 4gb to 8gb. Needless to say, not! Obviously from your note in regards to your up-grade from the 710H2c to the 720H2c there is more to it than I was hearing and or being told. If you don’t mind me asking? what did you have to replace and the kit you spoke of, was it costly? How much did it cost for the whole up-grade? Any info would be greatly appreceiated.. Have a good day..


  2. January 21, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    @Mark – The kit was a special promotion from Dell; it was the motherboard, components for the case, etc. that essentially upgraded the 710 to a 720 internally. It used the same memory and CPU as the 710, so you took that out. The process was annoying, but it did work out well. The entire “upgrade” was around 200$, so not THAT expensive to get the new NVidia chipset.

    As far as upgrading to 8GB of RAM–I don’t think the board supports more than 4GB; did you read somewhere that it can take 8?

  3. January 22, 2008 at 4:26 am

    I was told buy doing an up-grade to a 64bit OS it should be able to take 4ea. memory boards at 2gb ea. Right now my system with what it has now, will not take a 64bit OS, it does fine with the 32 bit now. I don’t mind spending a few extra hundred dollars to get the 8gb if it in fact it will do 8gb. Right now, it is only running at 2.75gb’s with 4gb installed. The whole idea behind this madness it to get the most out of what I have now and keep the system for several years, what do you think. Am I waisting my time to try and get 8gb’s when in fact it won’t do it either way, with or with out the up-grade.


  4. January 22, 2008 at 8:27 am


    Hmm, I ran Vista x64 and XP x64 before that just fine on my 710. Your information is correct: to see more than the 2.75 (2GB + PAE’s extension), you’ll need a 64-bit operating system; however, you should be able to do that on a 710 without upgrading the hardware.

    More than 4GB of RAM is “nice”, but most applications will just sit and be boggled by the amount. Vista CAN use it all (since it’s prefetcher allocates 100%), but 4GB plus a 4GB flash drive has been plenty.

    According to dell.com, the XPS 720 only supports 4GB of RAM:

    Up to 4GB** Dual-Channel DDR2* SDRAM (667MHz or 800MHz, 2 or 4 DIMMs)

    source: http://www.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/xpsdt_720h2c?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs

    To see all 4GB of your current memory, I’d recommend just upgrading your existing 710 to some sort of 64-bit operating system (Vista Ultimate x64 if you need a gaming machine or Windows XP x64 for home office/graphic design sorts). Both operating systems should install just fine on a XPS 710.

  5. January 22, 2008 at 12:39 pm


    I just checked, type in, (My Dell 720H2c) to your web brouser and it says you can go to 8gb, check it out and tell me what you think.

  6. January 22, 2008 at 1:34 pm


    Give it a try; the source above is directly from dell.com and it caps out at 4GB. If you’ve found a reliable source that quotes 8GB (assuming 2GBx4 slots), then give it a shot and post up your results. 🙂

  7. January 23, 2008 at 3:52 am

    I understand. Go to my dell 720h2c and tell me what is says. Just curiouse to see if you read it like i do. it does say 8gb of power…. Let me know your thoughts..

  8. January 23, 2008 at 3:55 am

    It states, Strength in Numbers
    With the XPS 720, we’ve significantly boosted performance over the previous generation by offering up to 4GB of Corsair® high-performance memory. If you’re serious about power, this DDR2 memory solution operates at 800MHz, taking your gaming, multimedia and everyday PC experience to speeds you never imagined. Switch to a 64-bit operating system, and add even more horsepower with a staggering 8GB of dual-channel memory.

    (Key) Dual channel memory..?

  9. January 23, 2008 at 6:46 am

    XPS 720H2C Supports up to 8GB of Dual-Channel DDR2 SDRAM (667MHz or 800MHz, 4 DIMMs) when a 64-bit Operating System is installed


    You’re totally correct, appears it can support 8GB of RAM. Places like Newegg have 8GB memory packs available too.

    For information on DDR2 (dual channel) memory, check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dual-channel_architecture

    As far as upgrading, you’re correct, it appears the 720 DOES support 8GB of RAM. The next step might be to contact Dell and find out if there’s a way to get the motherboard upgrade; from there it should be as simple as installing a 64-bit version of Vista, XP, or Linux, and heading off. If your Dell’s service tag is still under warranty through the XPS program, you may also want to call them and see if there’s a “best brand” of memory that works with the Dell motherboards. Typically Dell’s come with Corsair memory, but there may be another brand that equally works, but isn’t so pricy. 🙂

  10. Mark
    April 9, 2008 at 3:20 am

    Hi David

    You and I spoke some time back. It has been a long road waiting for the right price on motherboard and a NEW CPU QX6850, I have it all! I need a little help with a few inside answers I think you can help me with? I do have a a Dell XPS 710 H2C, and I do have the up-grade package to go to the 720 H2C along with a NEW CPU to go with it all. Do you have any suggestions to how I should go about the tear-down of my system to get the up-grade accomplished? any rights or wrongs you could shed some light on? Any onfo will be greatly used..

    FYI: One thing I do know, I will mark all wirer harnesses along with markings to match the motherboard for plug in’s.


  11. April 9, 2008 at 5:49 am


    The best suggestion I have is to take your time and if something appears in your way, take it out. Also, as you said, label everything–especially your hard drives (if you have a RAID) as they need to go back in the EXACT order they were.

    Good luck–sounds like fun and the new system should blaze right along!

  12. Mark
    April 9, 2008 at 12:40 pm


    So what you are saying, is to unplug everything. Mark all areas according, put the new board in and plug everything back in, right? I load the bios disk in after I’m all done with the reinstall? thats all there is to do? I know I will take my time tearing it down not to break anything. oh, one more thing! The H2c cooler, I don’t have to empty, it just unclips from the CPU and the whole thing comes out?

  13. Mark
    April 24, 2008 at 1:10 pm


    I thought maybe you would give a reply to my last Q&A. I did pick up a NEW (CPU) QX6850. What I plan to do is sell the whole 710 & CPU together and get some of my money back from the up-grade that I’m doing. I did pick up a couple more things. 1) two more fans, one for the memory borads which is a (corsair dominator and picked up 4ea 2gb ocZ reapers 800mhz). 2) another fan which fits perfect on the back panel with a zip tie, it’s 130x130x25mm and moves at 16dBA max at max speed and moves 54.4CFM. I did pick up two more items as well. 3) Intelligent fan control system. It operates up to four fans and monitors the temp as well. It was easy to install and I only did this to make sure it did work. I did hook up the extra fans and the system is working very nice and at low temp’s. 4) I picked up a Silverstone MFP51-B. The nice thing about this set up is this, it plugs right in to you main mother board plug and you can control the whole system by remote. Both the MF51-B and the Intelligent fan control system’s fit right in the drive bays that I do have open for use. One nice thing about the Silverstone MF51-B, it monitors your whole system and tell’s you everything that it is doing in a scroll mode. It monitors ALL temp’s of your machine, let’s you know what your CPU and many, many more processes internally are doing and if there are any problem’s. I do have another question regarding the tear-down of my system to switch out the motherboard’s.

    Do I have to empty the H2c cooler to get it out and to be able to disconect the cooler plate from the CPU? Please get back with me.. I’m ready to go with the challenge of the up-grade of my system. I plan to give my self a whole day to get this done. Get back with me when you get a chance.. Thank’s Mark

  14. Fred
    October 5, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    Hi David -looks like you’re runing Vista or had run it on your 710 before the upgrade…i was in the same boat. got everything swapped over to 720 but i cannot get vista to install, always gets hung up on the BSOD. The only thing I can imagine it being is a hardware issue…xp (factory oem install from the DELL dvds) runs fine but i want to use my vista ultimate and cannot. any ideas, or more specificatlly, how did you get vista to install on your 710/720 upgrade? any advice appreciated, i’ve tried all weekend with no luck, and i’ve built probably a dozen pcs from scratch without this type of issue…?

  15. Colin
    December 19, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    How the heck do you get the old board out? I removed everything and the thing won’t budge.

  16. December 19, 2008 at 3:08 pm


    Carefully? It’s not the screws–the whole compartment should come out. Remove the H2C fans and such and a couple of the twist screws. The new board should have come with a diagram of what to remove. 😉

  17. methodius
    December 22, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    I just purchased an H2C water cooling unit from ebay for my standard XPS 720 but I have no idea how to install it. Do any of you know how? Will I have to modify my XPS 720 case any? Are the connectors on my 720 motherboard already there for the H2C unit?

  18. Mark
    June 13, 2009 at 3:55 am


    Can you be running a 32bit system (Vista Ultimate) and copy over it with a 64bit (Vista Ultimate), or do you have to wipe everything out and start over?

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