Upgrade Your
Laptop?

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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.

Considerations -

  • 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 all?
    • (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 money)
  • 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 new 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 write)
  • New battery

Costs -

  • Processor - $29
  • Memory - $44
  • SSD - $125
  • Battery - $94
  • Total cost for upgrade - $292

Upgrade your laptop advantages -

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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.

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.

Disadvantages -

  • 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).

The image, table, or PDF was removed because it will not display on your device. Check back on a PC....

My IBM T-30 laptop

The processor is under the keyboad.

I removed the keyboard, then the heat sink, then the processor.

Remove the screws from the heat sink/fan assembly.

Gently lift out the heat sink/fan assembly, do not 'pry' on any surronding parts!

This processor socket uses a screw/cam to lock the processor in the socket

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.

With the socket unlocked, lift out the old processor.

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.

Place the new processor in the socket, lock in place, apply new thermal grease.

With my computer I left the keyboard loose and used the battery to power the computer up.

Re-assemble then power up.

The upgrade is complete and will need some testing to see how the upgrade effects the operation of the laptop.

Upgrade works! The speed of the processor is 2500MHz!

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 -

Note the amount of memory and the processor speed...

Upgrade Your Laptop then use CPU-Z has to verify:

Using a utiltity called CPU-Z I can verify the upgrade.

Memory paramaters, looks good.

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 useable.

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 the 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.

11/02/13

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 firewall/proxy server.

Is it possible to overclock a laptop? Yes!

Emergency Repair
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isk (ERD) - Will Yours Work?

Emergency
Repair Disk


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You keyboard isn't thirsty, and it doesn't need calcium. Milk and other liquids will ruin a keyaboard!


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