Upgrade Your Laptop? It isn't hard but not as easy as a desktop...
You can fix up your notebook, and save some money by doing so!
Upgrading an older notebook may be feasible and cost effective alternative to
purchasing a new laptop.
- Is the laptop case still in good condition?
- (No cracks or broken latches?)
- Are the hinges still strong enough to hold the video display upright?
- (Use this for a test - open the laptop, place the video display close to 90* and
press on a corner very lightly, if it moves then the spring tension is gone and the
hinges need to be replaced)
- Does it take a long time to charge the battery or battery will not charge at
- (the power supply may be having problems and is about to fail)
- When you look closely at the video display (LCD or Plasma) do you see little
white spots on a dark back ground?
- (This means that the video display has had
some thing impact it and some of the crystals are broken - this may not impact
some users who do a lot of word processing and very little graphics)
- What is the speed of the processor?
- (anything less than a P4 will not run
the latest and greatest Operating System for Windows, how ever if you are not
worried about Windows and use Linux then you could up grade a PIII and save some
- Depending on the processor speed is the FSB, the FSB in turn will limit you
choice of ram and the maximum amount that can be installed in the computer.
I am not saying you can not upgrade your laptop what I am saying is if the
cost of upgrading is over 25% of the cost of a
laptop then you may want to
consider buying a new one.
So here is what I am doing -
Upgrade a IBM T-30:
Manufacture installed items that can be upgraded -
- Processor - Intel P4 1.8 GHz (512 K cache) 400 MHz FSB
- Memory - 128 Meg DDR PC2100 (FSB for the PC2100 SDRAM is 400 MHZ)
- Hard drive - 40 Gig IBM Traveler (5400 RPM IDE)
Here are the items I am upgrading to -
- Processor - Intel P4 2.5 GHz (512 K cache) 533 MHz FSB
- Memory - 2 Gig DDR PC 2100 ( two 1 Gig modules)
- Storage - 64 Gig SSD Transcend (130 Meg Bits Per Second read, 40 MBPS
- New battery
- Processor - $29
- Memory - $44
- SSD - $125
- Battery - $94
- Total cost for upgrade - $292
Upgrade your laptop advantages -
Cost is the only advantage of doing an upgrade on a laptop, because only
limited components can be upgraded and you are limited to the choice of upgrades
such as the processor, you may need to stay at the same FSB, a faster FSB may not
work because the support chips may not be able to run at a faster FSB.
The 5 Steps to high quality and cheap
DIY Computer Repairs
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Your laptop may still have an built in Floppy drive or interchangeable floppy
with the CD/DVD drive
The price of a new laptop ranges from $599 to over $2000 depending on the
manufacture and options.
- Processor - Newer laptops are equipped with Core 2
i series processors, Duo or Quad.
- The embedded video has 512 Meg or more Ram.
- SSD is becoming the standard.
- All have USB 2 and some have up to six ports, some now come with USB3.
- Some have additional Fire Wire ports.
- Support for up to 4 gig or more ram.
- Larger video display (up to 17" on some newer laptops).
- Longer battery life with newer technology.
- Built in WiFi/Wireless and 1 Gig NIC.
- Some come with a built in SD port for SD memory cards.
So you choice, can you live with the old faithful for a little longer and
upgrade your laptop or do
you want to pay for the latest and greatest.
If you can live with the older computer and want to upgrade some of the
components then read on.
Upgrade Your Laptop:
The fist thing I upgraded was the Hard Drive to
SSD, part of the reason for
going to SSD is it will extend the life of the battery by around 50%
(actual tests make it closer to35%). And the
fact that there isn't any moving parts to cause the drive to crash. (This is
important because the laptop will be running while our RV is in motion. Even
though the RV has Air Ride Suspension there is still a lot of vibration - I
didn't shock mount the rack I build because the only moving parts in the laptops
are the processor fans and the cd drive).
Next I went in search for more memory, knowing that the processor FSB is 400
MHz I went to Kingston Memory and looked a the memory in the PC2100 range. The
last time I did a memory upgrade the largest memory module for the PC2100 DDR
SDRAM was 512 Meg, to my surprise there is now a 1 Gig PC2100 DDR SDRAM module.
Because I only need to go to 1 Gig I only bought one memory module and left the
512 Meg module in thus giving me 1.5 Gig of Ram. I have since added
another 1 Gig PC2100 DDR SDRAM module to the computer.
Next I went to Pricewatch.com and did a search for P4 mobile processors with
400 - 533 MHz FSB, also to my surprise I found three that were faster than the one in
the T-30 now, I found a 2.2, a
2.5, and a 2.6. I did find a
2.8 GHz but because the 2.8
was $200 and that was beyond my budget. (the $200 processor would have pushed my
25% rule and would have made the upgrade cost half the cost of a new laptop).
For the most part the SSD and memory are just swaps, see my
SSD Upgrade page on this item.
Now the processor will require me to open the case and remove the heat sink
and fan, then the processor.
I documented the process as I did it -
The processor in the T-30 is under the keyboard so the case doesn't need to
be cracked. But to be safe I am removing the Ram, SSD, CD, and the battery.
(Really only need to remove the battery, don't want to power up the system with
things disconnected or partially disconnected).
table, or PDF was removed because it will not display on your device. Check back on a PC....
I removed the keyboard, then the heat sink, then the processor.
Install the new processor, be sure to align the processor to prevent bending
any pins! This socket has a set screw, that is the screw is a cam that tightens
the socket vs a lever on the side. Tighten the screw.
Clean off any old Thermal grease, then apply a very small amount of new
Thermal grease before reinstalling the heat sink. Reinstall the heat sink and
secure, you want to have it secure to be sure to not over temp the processor.
With my computer I left the keyboard loose and used the battery to power the
The upgrade is complete and will need some testing to see how the upgrade
effects the operation of the laptop.
Upgrade Your Laptop complete, from 1.8 GHz, 128 Meg of Ram, 40 Gig Hard Drive to a 2.5 GHz
FSB 533, 1.5 Gig of Ram, 64 Gig SSD.
The Properties page says it all -
Upgrade Your Laptop then use CPU-Z has to verify:
CPU-Z indicates that I have a 2.5 GHz processor the max speed is 2497.7 MHz (2.5
GHz) and the FSB is at 399.99 MHz when the FSB of the memory should be 533.
Before the BIOS update the multiplier was 12.5, now it is at 25 double the
default of the original BIOS.
Because the BIOS does not have the facility to change the multiplier or the FSB
there isn't any way to experiment with the settings to see which is correct -
CPU-Z or the BIOS.
But if you download the latest BIOS updates the true speed may be recognized and
So for under $300 I have a faster computer and the battery will last longer. I
am very happy! :)
All these steps to upgrade your Laptop were extracted from
Self Computer Repair Unleashed! 2nd Edition E-Book..
I needed an external drive for more storage while I travel so I decided to use a
SSD because the newer versions of SSD have dual connectors with the SATA
interface. They have SATA and USB 2.0 interfaces and come in a nice case. With
the USB interface no external power is required.
Upgrade Your Laptop.
I have since added another 1 GB memory module to this laptop and now has a
Server OS installed, it is happily setting on a shelf, it is now my