At the high school I use to go to, (between 2003 to 2007), there were many computers scattered across the place. Most of them, actually, all of them were Dell OptiPlex’s. Most of the computers at this time were being replaced by newer, faster computers, branding Dell OptiPlex GX240, GX270, and GX280. The older Dell models that were being replaced were the OptiPlex Gs+, GXa, GX1, and GX100. These computers were simply outdated as they had a low amount of memory and a slow processor. And although all of them except the Gs+ could just barely run Windows XP Professional, many of the students took their anger out by abusing these computers. (The Gs+ still was able to run Windows NT, which is what all the computers had originally installed for the school). Students scratched the outside of the chassis, broke CD-ROM doors, and drew on the computers and its accessories. In addition, floppy drives were ruin, eject buttons were pulled out, some CD-ROM drive trays were ripped out, Dell emblems were pried off.  This was the worst abuse to computers I’ve ever saw!

Being a computer geek, I knew the technology director at the school, and during my summer break in 2005, I helped him throw out a lot of the Gs+ to make room for new GX270’s. Almost every Gs+ in the building was scheduled to be thrown into the dumpster, but I had the opportunity to degut these systems. I grabbed Pentium processors with a speed of 200 MHz, 16 MB SIMM EDO memory, 1 GB hard drives, 16 bit ISA sound cards, some power supplies, some cables, some heat sinks, and working CD-ROMs and floppy drives. I also saved a few motherboards, most of the screws, and some drive bezels. There were some GXa’s and GX1’s that were going to get thrown out too. I grab parts out of those systems also. From the GXa’s, I grabbed the Pentium II processors (300 MHz with MMX), DIMM memory, heat ducts for the processors, 3.2 GB hard drives, fans, some power supplies, some video memory, and other stuff that the Gs+ didn’t have. In the GX1’s, I grabbed Pentium III processors (450 MHz), and other stuff which were similar to the GXa’s. Along with the parts I degutted, I also kept a keyboard, a mouse, and a couple of monitors. Most of the GXa’s that were sitting on the teacher’s desks were donated to another school, probably a school where the students respected technology.

I saved one computer from each model group and took them home. (The rescued computers). I took these computers home and blew the dust out, cleaned the outside, and started them up. After installing Windows Me on all the computers, they seem to run pretty good for a computer designed at that time. I also installed Windows 98 on all the computers. Windows 98 seemed to work fine too, but for the GX1, it appears to have some shutdown issues. For the GXa and GX1, I tossed on Windows XP Home Edition. I knew XP worked really slow at school, but here, it worked good. The setup was a little slow and starting Windows was slow too, but it seemed to work better. However, the integrated ATI graphics prevents Windows XP from going into standby. The Gs+ is about maxed out. I’ve installed the most memory it can take, (4 32 MB EDO SIMMS that equal 128 MB), the 200 MHz Pentium I switched with a Pentium with MMX, same speed, and the video memory is maxed out. In addition, I added a SCSI interface controller card, a 2 port USB card, and a 32x CD-ROM drive.

Left: Optiplex Gs+ (low-profile chassis) on top of an Optiplex GXa (midsize chassis), Right: Optiplex GX1 (mini-tower chassis).

These selected computers are now in a safe haven in my house where they are away from the students who abused them. They can continue to work at optimum performance, the way that Dell indented. As for the GX240’s, GX270’s, and GX280’s that the school currently has, they are already seeing abuse. Even though they all have Pentium 4 processors, doors are being ripped off, emblems are missing. Most commonly, the belts inside the DVD-ROM drives are being plucked off the motors that open the drive’s tray, confusing the drive when the trays are pushed closed, and wearing out the motor so that they have a hard time opening the tray when the belts are replaced. These computers will probably not see replacement for a while, unless they are really abused. But when they are finally outdated and ready to be tossed into the dumpster, I hope that someone like me will save some of these systems, fix them up, and keep them at their house where they will never see another student who can abuse them.