I have to replace the hard drive on my Dell Dimension 4700. I have talked to three different reps in customer service and get three totally different answers as to what hard drives are available to work in my computer. I was hoping someone on here could help me out.
The Dimension 4700 uses a standard desktop SATA hard drive. Check out the service manual here: Dimension 4700 Service Manual.
EDIT: One caveat I should mention is that many of the larger drives, 1 TB or more, are "green" or Advanced Format Drives. While the manufacturers are trying to make use of these drives more user friendly, some may require special installation procedures. For a Dimension 4700 I would recommend staying with the older architecture drives such as the model found here: WDC WD5000AVCS.
Dell Forum member since 2005
For what it's worth, I bought half a dozen 2tb drives before the Thai floods, a mix of Seagate, Western Digital, and Samsung units, and none required any special installation.
I was also told I couldn't go above a 320 MB hard drive or it would be too big and burn itself up. True?
I honestly don't know where some of these "facts" come from. The worst that could happen, provided you are attaching a standard SATA hard drive that uses the SATA data and power connectors, is that you might find a drive that is large enough that the BIOS would be unable to track all of the sectors on the drive. This is unlikely to happen since the Dimension 4700 BIOS can handle hard drive capacities many times greater than presently available hard drives. There will be no physical damage to either the computer or the hard drive.
As I mentioned in my earlier post, you might have to study the installation procedure of the drive as some of the older Advanced Format drives need to be "aligned" in order to use them with Windows XP. The Advanced Format hard drives use sector sizes of 4 KB instead of the older 512 B standard. The drives for desktop computers usually have an emulation mode to appear to the computer as a drive that has 512 byte sectors in order to be compatible with older hardware and Windows XP. Later models of these drives have advanced sufficiently that you might not even notice a problem, as indicated by rdunnill's post. I suggested sticking with a drive having the older architecture of 512 byte sectors purely as a precaution given the age of the computer you are working with. Odds are that the newer drives will work just fine.
I hate to even ask this, but I need help finding a hard drive. All of the technical stuff is way out of my league.
The most expedient way would be to find a Staples, Best Buy, or equivalent and have one of the sales folk give you a hand. The desktop hard drives are 3.5 Inch, and have a rotational speed rating between 5,200 and 7,200 RPM. There are faster ones but they also tend to be more expensive. For the Dimension 4700 you don't really need a drive more than 500 GB, but you can probably use a drive as large as 2 TeraBytes. A 2 TB drive is the largest you can use with Windows XP, and is also the largest drive that can be used to boot from on a Dimension 4700.
Try perusing this page from Newegg to become accustomed to the terminology: Newegg Hard Disk Drive Sales Page.
Ok, what does 16 MB Cache and 3.0Gb/s mean and are they important to match these numbers when purchasing a new hard drive?
The cache is memory on the hard drive itself where data is temporarily stored. This is used to help avoid some of the time spent waiting for the platter to spin far enough to get the data you want under the read/write heads of the drive. A prediction is made about what data will be needed next and is loaded to the cache so that it can be provided instantly rather than being read byte by byte from the platter. I'm sure it's helpful, but I haven't really noticed the size of the cache making a lot of difference between drives. Just as long as it has one of at least 8 MB.
The 3.0 GB/Sec is the rate at which data can be transferred between the computer and the drive. Only the data in the cache actually moves at that speed; after the cache has been emptied, the data must be sequentially read from the hard drive platter, and that speed is around 100 MB/Sec plus or minus about 30 MB/Sec.
You don't really need to match those numbers to anything. Your Dimension 4700 uses the original SATA standard of 1.5 GB/Sec, so your drive will need to slow down a bit anyway. The only place it might matter is on certain performance benchmarks, and those are usually a poor indicator of the experience you will have.