Optiplex 980 -> ??? -> Gaming PC

2014-06-30 20.24.55

I was lucky enough to get two nice pieces of machinery given to me earlier this summer: A Dell Optiplex 980 (Small Form Factor) and a GeForce GTX470 graphics card with an aftermarket Zalman cooler.  Encouraged by recent Steam sales, I set out to make a budget PC capable of playing new-ish games with cost as the key factor.  The 980 came with a decent processor for its age–an i7-860 at 2.8GHz–and 8GB of RAM.

Originally I thought this would entail swapping the stock video card and getting a new power supply to provide enough juice.  I went with the Corsair CX600.  I got a riser to connect the video card outside of the case, since the Zalman cooler is about as big as the SFF case itself.  Dell’s proprietary power supply configuration meant I had to get an adapter and reconfigure the pinout to supply the correct power, and after a couple weeks, this brought about the end of the $35 gaming PC dream: one of the pins I reconfigured came loose and fried the Dell motherboard.  I’d have to invest a little more money to get something useable.

Getting a non-Dell motherboard meant I could scrap the weird power supply setup, so I got a used Intel DP55WB and tried to install it in a larger Dell Optiplex 960 MT case (again, trying to save money whenever possible).  This time everything fit in the case, but the mATX motherboard was not meant to fit in the proprietary Dell case, and in trying to cram it in, I fried another mobo.  Fun!

Deciding that I should just bite the bullet and make a computer that works, I invested in a Rosewill Ranger case, an ASUS P7P55-M motherboard, and a Cooler Master Hyper TX3 fan–the i7-860 is after all a popular processor for overclocking.  This time taking extreme caution with my motherboard and power, and testing all components, I got things up and running!
2014-06-30 18.05.37

See below for PCPartsPicker.com build sheet, not including the pile of dead parts left in my wake–I’m chalking those up to gaining experience.  Everything I bought was pretty heavily discounted (sometimes via rebates) and I’m really enjoying the computer overall.  I mostly play Chivalry: Medieval Warfare and Rome 2: Total War.

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/JrC26h
Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/JrC26h/by_merchant/

CPU: Intel Core i7-860 2.8GHz Quad-Core Processor  ($0.00)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper TX3 54.8 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler  ($24.99)
Motherboard: Asus P7P55-M Micro ATX LGA1156 Motherboard  ($54.99)
Memory: Kingston 8GB (4 x 2GB) DDR3-1333 Memory  ($0.00)
Storage: Toshiba  160GB 2.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive  ($0.00)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive  ($49.99)
Video Card: PNY GeForce GTX 470 1.25GB Video Card  ($0.00)
Case: Rosewill RANGER-M MicroATX Mini Tower Case  ($42.99)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 600W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply  ($37.99)
Total: $210.95
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-09-03 15:54 EDT-0400




Filed under Uncategorized

5 responses to “Optiplex 980 -> ??? -> Gaming PC

  1. Hi Kyle, Just out of interest – do you have a guide on how to create the correct adapter for the 980? I just can’t find a good guide anywhere and am stuck without one! I would greatly appreciate it!

    Many thanks,


    • I used the information provided here to reconfigure the power supply. It took a lot of trying to understand the diagrams on that page and looking at the pictures to make sure I got it right. I twisted the wires and then joined them with electrical tape, which eventually led to the demise of my motherboard, so I recommend soldering. Here’s how to remove pins. It wasn’t fun. Best of luck!

  2. Skylor Wold

    If anyone else ever runs into the problem of needing a normal power supply to work on an Optiplex 980 SFF motherboard, they can be purchased on Amazon and/or eBay. I paid about $7 total for it, and it was definitely worth the cost. It works flawlessly.

  3. Skylor Wold

    Oh, and beware; the Optiplex 980 SFF uses a bizarre form factor: BTX. This means you will need to make your own case or go with one of the other two form factors the 980 came in (either buy just the case or the entire setup,) and that’s only if they use plain ATX power supplies if you want a gaming machine. It’s a shame, too, since the 980 SFF motherboard can be purchased for a good price and allows for some great processors that turbo-boost to speeds fast enough to keep up with high-end graphics cards. Be warned though, it has 0 HDMI outputs (Display Port to HDMI w/ audio cables are sold cheap) and 0 IDE ports.

    I’m just about to build a custom wood case for this to be used as an HTPC for my father. I would be surprised if the audio really did come through that DP to HDMI cord, but a 3.5mm jack will be used anyway. I got an i5 that has an integrated graphics device, so I won’t need to worry about the PCI slots.

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