A guide to upgrading cpu cooler / heatsink and graphics card in Dimension E521


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A guide to upgrading cpu cooler / heatsink and graphics card in Dimension E521

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My rig:

Dimension E521, Bios 1.1.11

AMD 64 X2 6000+ 125 W, Clocked to 3.2 Ghz

2 GB RAM, PC-6400 (which gives a nice performance boost over PC-4300)

2 HARD DRIVES, 160 GB + 500 GB

RADEON HD 4870 Graphics card, Clocked to 800/1100 (4400)


My E521 has been very reliable and it has served me well. With some case modifications and new components, I am able to run an overclocked 6000+ cpu and a 4870 graphics card in my system (a strip of the case needs to be removed in order to fit dual-slot cards, see photo). I found a great replacement cpu cooler for the E521: Noctua NH-U9B

After playing Crysis (1680x1050, gamer setting, shaders/post-processing set to mainstream) the cpu temperature never exceeds 40 C (with fan). Without the cpu cooler fan running, the cpu temperature reaches 52 C. The Noctua is very effective, it fits nicely in the E521 due to its moderate size and installation is quite easy with some adjustments (see photo).

Have a look at the accompanying pictures of my computer:








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  • Video cards have been ahead of retail board specs on the 2.0 issue for a couple of years. Most cards starting with the 88xx series came with 2.0 capabilities. That being said yes one will suffer a slight performance hit running the cards on a 1.0 board but this will normally not be an issue unless one is into benchmark bragging rights. For gaming and all the rest the cards will perform very well. I just dropped a GTX 260 core 216 into my 720 and the thing runs like a top. So IMHO I would not be concerned about it

     HomeBuilt SandyBridge P8P67 i7 2600k @ 4.5 ghz 8gigs GSkill Ripjaws. Corsair 800D Case and AX1200 Ps X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty pro PCIe Sound Card
    Dell Studio XPS 1645  Window 7 Pro

    Forum member since 2003

  • hey i'm looking at the Noctua NH-U9B and theres bunch of models on the internet, can you tell me if all the models would fit in the dell e521? i was thinking about getting this one but i need someone to confirm that this is the model.



  • also, can you tell me how to connect the cooler fan to the psu, like do i need a certain connector or what?

  • get to http://computerwine.blogspot.com/2008/11/upgrading-dell-desktop-e521.html and contact Tomo by Email, he will give you a honest answer about the Noctua in a BTX mobo.

    It is important to know, most Cooler are to high so you can not close the side panel from your computer case.

    I'm using a HyperTX, a small and effectual cooler, but it will cost a lot of sweat to build in!!!!

    What CPU are you intent to use?




  • how did you manage to put a hyper tx cooler in there? I bought one try to fit it, got tired of it and just returned it can you show pics and how you did it?

  • If you return it, then it has no sense, sending you photo's.

    But why do you need another cooler, what is your set up?? 


  • Im using my PSU upgrade in a new system. My E521 is now setup with the original PSU, 305 watt, and a 4670 Ultimate graphics card.

    E521: AMD 6000+ 125W (stock E521 cpu cooler, with fan mounted on), 4GB RAM, Harddrive (no CD/DVD-ROM).

    It runs great. And Im quite impressed with the 4670 Ultimate. Its reasonably priced, performs quite well, doesnt get too hot and it absolutely silent.

  • Hi,

    Help! I'm having trouble with my system shutting down because of high cpu temp, I think.

    The spec is as follows

    E521, AMD 5600+ windsor CPU, BIOS 1.1.11, 700w Arctic power supply, ATI Radeon HD4850, intergrated sound card, twin hard drives and the usual DELL twin CD/DVD drives and other stuff, runing Vista Business sp2.

    I think the high temp is due to extra load of the graphics card, using normall office & CAD programs the pc is fine but playing games such as Grid or Call Of Duty 5 is when without warning the pc shuts down. I have installed another two small fans to the back of the case but this hasn't really made any difference to the CPU temps. My next thought was to perhaps follow your lead by replacing the heatsink and adding a further fan to the new heatsink. 

    from the pics you posted i noticed you have used a Noctua heatsink, could you tell me firstly if Im looking at this problem in the correct way and what was the model number to the heatsink that you used?

    any help would be most welcome

  • I use the program 'Core Temp' to monitor cpu temperatures myself.

    I installed the Noctua NH-U9B.

    No overclocking? If you've overclocked your processor too much it could cause blue screens during gaming.

    If the cpu is overheating:

    Easiest solution: You should remove and clean the cpu and heatsink with thermal compound remover and purifier, re-apply new thermal compound and re-install the heatsink. It might solve the problem.

    After applying new thermal compound, you could mount a fan on the stock heatsink. I mounted a a small fan (60mm) on the stock heatsink myself, it rests on the heatsink by two shortened match sticks and is hold in place by two rubber bands, connect it to the PSU.

    Of course you could replace the heatsink, like I did, with the Noctua or other compatible heatsink; A heatsink that clears everything on the motherboard, is not too big and has AM2 mounting bars.

  • Go to


    He has more a less the same V-card, contact this guy for more help.

    I would not exchange the CPU heatsink here . I'm running a Sapphire HD4890 VaporX and I have installed a extra 80mm fan that blows the heat from the Vcard underside to the slots. I have removed the steel slot plates, so air can flow trough the Computer back side.  No heat-up problems here, use Scythe white or blue led fan, it has a controller to adjust the RPM.