Dimension XPS 5: Serial and Parallel ports?

Discussion in 'Dell' started by Nick, Jun 17, 2005.

  1. Nick

    Nick Guest

    I'm thinking about moving up to a Dim. XPS 5, and just noticed that it
    doesn't come with a serial or parallel port. :(

    1. Serial port: there's a 'Serial Port Adapter' that can be bought with the
    computer. From the documentation on the Dell site, apparently this hooks up
    to a connector on the motherboard.

    Is this a full-featured serial port, with all the standard UART registers,
    buffers, etc., or just a basic adapter and not a 'real' serial port?

    I need this to connect my external modem (my backup for when DSL is down).

    2. Parallel port: I don't see any type of adapters for adding a parallel
    port on Dell's web site.

    I do see USB-to-parallel adapter cables available on other mail order sites.

    How well do these adapter cables work? Are there any functional
    differences, or are they all about the same?

    Just need the parallel port for a dot-matrix printer. (Yes, I know it's old
    technology; but it's more than adequate for my needs.)


    Still searching Dell's web site, but haven't found anything to clear this up

    Nick, Jun 17, 2005
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  2. Nick

    Talkin Horse Guest

    It's kind of surprising if you want this top-of-the-line leading-edge PC and
    at the same time need to preserve low-level compatibility with relatively
    obsolete hardware that could also be updated. It seems likely that either a
    USB port or a new USB modem and printer (or Dell's internal modem) would
    solve your problem at small cost.
    Talkin Horse, Jun 18, 2005
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  3. Nick

    Nick Guest

    A brand-new modem will give me ZERO performance improvement over my current
    modem. So if a $5 adapter is all I need to make my current modem work, why
    on earth would I want to buy a new one?

    And a new printer might be faster than my current one, but for my use that
    extra speed would make almost no difference at all. So if an inexpensive
    adapter cable is all I need, why should I bother with a new printer?

    Just because I'm getting a fancy new computer doesn't mean I need to replace
    everything that hooks up to it with a fancy new version.


    The only reason I asked about the adapter cables is because of a recent
    thread here discussing problems with USB-to-serial adapters, where a few
    posts mentioned problems causes by poor emulation of standard UART

    I'm asking if anybody knows if the Serial Adapter for the XPS 5 avoids those
    problems, and I'm asking about the USB-to-parallel adapters because I have
    no experience with those.

    Nick <mailto:>

    Nick's two rules of spammer talk:

    1. Spammers lie.
    2. If a spammer ever appears to be telling
    the truth, please refer to rule number 1.
    Nick, Jun 18, 2005
  4. Nick

    David Guest

    I think you should get a dimension 3000 so your
    older equipment wont get jealous.
    Just kidding....
    Have a nice weekend...
    David, Jun 18, 2005
  5. Nick

    User N Guest

    Interesting, I didn't know that. Looks like the 9100 lacks them as well.
    The fact that they sell an adapter and the MB header is labelled SERIAL2
    sounds promising to me. However, the MB diagram in the Users Guide:


    seems to show a header that is populated with fewer than 9 pins and I
    don't know whatsup with that.
    There are USB<->Serial adapters and USB<->Parallel adapters. I've
    never had a need for one but I've known a few people who used them
    successfully [from Windows XP]. Assuming you have the appropriate
    USB ports and OS support, you could grab one or both from a local
    store (easy returns) and take them for a spin before you settle on a new
    User N, Jun 18, 2005
  6. Nick

    Talkin Horse Guest

    Personally, I prefer to use anything I own until it falls apart, and I feel
    sinful if I put working equipment on the junk pile. But with PC peripherals,
    I'll make an exception, because it often requires more resources to continue
    to use the old stuff than it does to discard them and buy new. Dell will
    include an internal modem for $20 extra; for that amount of money, it simply
    isn't worth my time to struggle with drivers and whatnot for ancient
    equipment. I had a friend who insisted on struggling with her old SCSI
    scanner; she ended up buying a PCI SCSI card, and still couldn't get the
    thing to work on a new PC, having wasted time and money. Ditto for low-end
    printers, which are close to free. In fact, this week the cheap Dell
    printers *are* free (although I hesitate to buy Dell printers 'cause then
    you've got to buy cartridges from Dell). So unless you get a special
    pleasure from attaching ancient peripherals, you'd do well to give away your
    old printer and modem. That's my humble opinion, for what it's worth.
    Talkin Horse, Jun 18, 2005
  7. Nick

    Tweek Guest

    BTX is 'legacy free' so any BTX based machine will not have serial or
    paralell ports.
    Tweek, Jun 20, 2005
  8. Nick

    User N Guest

    Well for starters, what do you make of the Dimension 5000, the Precision
    380, the OptiPlex GX280, and Gateway 9310?
    User N, Jun 20, 2005
  9. Nick

    Pen Guest

    I'm using a USB./Parallel cable on my older
    HP printer off a USB port. Works just fine.
    I agree with you about not replacing things
    if it's not necessary.
    Pen, Jun 20, 2005
  10. Nick

    Tom Scales Guest

    What's the question?
    Tom Scales, Jun 20, 2005
  11. Nick

    User N Guest

    Whether all BTX based machines lack serial and parallel ports.
    User N, Jun 20, 2005
  12. Nick

    Tom Scales Guest

    The Dimension 5000 is BTX based? I did not believe it really was.

    Tom Scales, Jun 20, 2005
  13. Nick

    Tweek Guest

    I spoke to soon and incorrectly. My understanding is that BTX is supposed to
    be legacy free and a system fully compliant with the standard will lack
    serial and paralell ports. I may be wrong on that point, but I know they
    have been trying to get rid of those ports for years. Many laptops don't
    have them anymore. My Abit AN8 does not have them either.
    Tweek, Jun 20, 2005
  14. Nick

    User N Guest

    It looks like a BTX type layout to me. But having said that, it may
    very well be that it doesn't adhere to some aspect(s) of the BTX
    specifications or it may actually fall into the micro BTX category
    and thus more properly be referred to as a microBTX based box.
    What do you think it is?

    User N, Jun 20, 2005
  15. Nick

    Nick Guest

    Thanks! That's what I was looking for: a response from somebody who'd
    actually used one of these adapters. :)

    From my digging over the weekend, it looks like USB/Parallel adapters are
    pretty generic: most seem to provide a standard Centronics parallel port
    meeting the IEEE specifications.

    So it seems hooking up my current printer to my new computer won't be any

    I haven't received any comments on the XPS 5 serial port adapter (tried Dell
    chat and got an error message), but that's not critical. I have DSL now, so
    the modem's just a backup. I expect the serial adapter will work, but if it
    doesn't I can sort that out after I get the computer.


    For those who think I should buy a new modem and printer, instead of just

    A new modem and new printer comparable to the ones I already have would cost
    in the neighborhood of ten times as much as buying just the cables, and
    would give me no practical benefit other than the new cable types.

    So I think I'll just get the cables...
    Nick, Jun 20, 2005
  16. Nick

    S.Lewis Guest

    Nothing wrong with hanging on to them Nick. I will say that I frequently
    pick up quality (used) 3Com USR Hardware PCI internal modems for around $15
    including shipping. They're bullet-proof. (I also have an old Motorola 56k
    VoiceSurfr external that is rock-solid ;-)

    S.Lewis, Jun 20, 2005
  17. Nick

    S.Lewis Guest

    From what little I've read of the 5000, it appears to be a new case with the
    guts of a Dimension 4700 tossed in. If that's the case, then the power
    supply is designed for BTX, but the remainder of the guts are of the old ATX

    Since (I believe) the 5000 is a UK only machine (?), purely speculation on
    my part. I've not touched one of the beasts....

    S.Lewis, Jun 20, 2005
  18. Nick

    User N Guest

    I don't think any amount of twisting in a puzzle solving like manner
    could turn a 4700 MB into the MB shown at those sites I linked to.
    But then I'm not the world's best puzzle solver.
    Going to www.euro.dell.com and checking a few countries, it appears
    that the Dimension 5000 is available in at least several European countries.
    I checked a couple of Asian countries but didn't see it listed. However, I
    did come across a 5100 in Korea:


    and a 5100C in Japan:


    User N, Jun 21, 2005
  19. Nick

    S.Lewis Guest

    Checking that UK link, the 5000 is indeed an Intel 915 based system like the
    Dimension 4700, but again in a different case:


    However, the board appears to be a BTX design, one dead giveaway being the
    CPU socket position on the motherboard:


    So yeah, it looks as though the 5000 is most likely BTX true and through.

    S.Lewis, Jun 21, 2005
  20. Nick

    User N Guest

    Minor side note on the subject of Dell BTX compatability ... I haven't
    found open chassis pics of the 9100 (if anyone else has, please share),
    but based on some diagrams from the system docs:


    it appears similar to the Precision 380, and there is a zoomable open
    chassis view of that available:


    Both appear to utilize (and require, at least if you want to maintain the
    same number of expansion slots) a notched MB which doesn't adhere
    to BTX specifications AFAICT.
    User N, Jun 21, 2005
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