Inspiron 1520 ultimate upgrade

Discussion in 'Hardware Components and Aftermarket Upgrades' started by TheChappie, Jan 31, 2010.

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  1. TheChappie

    TheChappie Notebook Enthusiast

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    Ok, now I have viewed this forum in the past from a far and I have found it to be quite useful. :)

    After realizing that I just wont have the money to completely build a new rig, I've decided that I want to at least get the most out of the most powerful tool I've got right now, and that would be my 1520. My primary use would be gaming, photo editing and then also school work.

    To start, I want to upgrade to windows 7. It just seems to be a real step forward and to be frank, I'm quite tired of XP and don't like UNIX much. :)

    Next, I want to max out the ram from 2 gigs to 4 (I believe . That sort of stuff is self explanatory, I don't really need too much help with that.

    From here is where I run into difficulty:

    Firstly, can I upgrade my CPU? I currently have a T2310 @ 1.46 GHz and I'd like to put the most powerful thing I can into it, battery be damned! ;)

    After that, I'm a bit confused on what I can do GPU wise. Right now, I have an 8400m GS, and I've read from a couple different places that you can put an 8600m GT with 512mb in there, but I've only seen 8600m GT's with 256mb's come standard through dell. Since they are from the same family, does it matter?

    I was also wondering what kind of hard drives I could get in there, does anyone make a 10k rpm HD that could fit inside of a 1520 without modding?

    beyond that, will the PSU take all this?

    and finally, can anyone else recommend anything else that I can do? :)

    Thanks for the time and the awesome forum, it's definitely been a big help in the past and I'm hoping will be able to help me now!
     
  2. sgogeta4

    sgogeta4 Notebook Nobel Laureate

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    Yes, you can upgrade the CPU, just use CPU-Z to check the socket and use Intel ARK to find what CPU will fit. The GPU memory amount doesn't matter, but the memory type is important. Usually 256MB is GDDR3 and will be faster than 512MB if it's DDR2. There are no 10K RPM drives that will work with your notebook, the best you can get is a SSD.
     
  3. TheChappie

    TheChappie Notebook Enthusiast

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    its a 965 express chipset, and from research it seems the best I can put in it is a t9500, correct?

    Also, I don't quite understand how the 8600M GT is the best I can do GPU wise. My CPU-Z displays my graphics interface as pci-express. Why exactly is it that I can not put other mobile cards in there? I'm not necessarily questioning this as much as I am trying to understand it. What exactly makes the 8600M GT compatible vs other pci-e mobile cards?
     
  4. Commander Wolf

    Commander Wolf can i haz broadwell?

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    The best processor you can get is indeed the T9500.

    4GB is the maximum amount of memory the official specifications allow, but I'm pretty sure you can use at least 6GB.

    HDD... yeah, get an SSD.

    The GPU in the 1520 uses a proprietary socket and therefore only GPUs specifically made for the 1520 are going to fit. And that narrows your choices down to the 8400 and 8600.
     
  5. TheChappie

    TheChappie Notebook Enthusiast

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    Hmmm, is there anyway to mod said proprietary socket?

    Also, ARK says I can put a core2 extreme x9000 in there, is this bad info or am I just misreading it?

    One more thing, 6gb's you say? :D
     
  6. Commander Wolf

    Commander Wolf can i haz broadwell?

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    X9000 might be possible. It's not officially supported, but I definitely wouldn't say no outright. Same deal with the 6GB; it's not officially supported, but in this case, I'm fairly certain there are people with 1520s and 1720s with 6GB.

    I don't really think the X9000 is worth it, though. You can't multiplier OC, in which case you're paying a bunch of extra money for an extra couple hundred MHz. Yes you can FSB OC given the proper PPL support, etc (I don't know much about this, but I think it's possible in the 1520), but then you might as well FSB OC a T9500 or T9300 anyway...
     
  7. Apollo13

    Apollo13 100% 16:10 Screens

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    The best GPU you can put in the 1520 is the 8600M GT 256 MB DDR2 from Dell. Be aware that both of the nVIDIA options for the 1520 have an engineering flaw that shortens their lifespan. Thus, buying used is a larger risk than usual, and you should keep your 8400 GS around in case your new 8600M GT conks out - that way you could put the 8400 GS back in and still be in business.

    For the CPU, the X9000 should work, but heat may be a problem. Make sure you have some sort of temperature monitoring utility, and have taken the proper cooling measures. However, as you mentioned you can't afford a new rig outright, I would not suggest going with the X9000. The T9300 is generally the sweet spot for performance:price. It'll certainly be a huge boost over the T2310. As for overclocking the CPU, to my knowledge no one has found a way to do it with the 1520. If someone has, send me a PM - I'd like to try it.

    The RAM will almost certainly go up to 6 GB (forum member SomeFormOfHuman has 6 GB in his Inspiron 1720, for instance), and might support a full 8 GB. Current memory prices, however, dictate that 4 GB is the most sensible choice unless you really need more than that.

    For hard drives, SSDs are always options (I'd recommend Intel, Micron, or Samsung for best reliability - in general I don't trust SSDs a whole lot yet), but there are no 10K RPM mechanical drives for laptops. You can get some 500 GB, 7200 RPM drives, however, such as the Hitachi 7K500.B (make sure it's .B, or it won't fit in the 1520 without some modifications), or a 640 GB Western Digital Caviar Blue drive. And I may be slightly behind the times on those. Whether an SSD or a regular HDD is a better choice depends on how much space you want internally. Either way, I'd keep your current HDD as a backup.

    Windows 7 will run fine on the 1520. The driver support wasn't quite ideal in the beta stage, but it's progressed nicely since then. I wouldn't dole out the extra for Professional/Ultimate unless you are actually going to use the features that those versions offer, however. Sidebar: Did you downgrade to XP on the 1520 yourself, as well? As I recall it, by the time Dell offered XP natively, only Intel GPUs were available.

    The power supply will be fine with all this, too. And unless you have a dinky AC adapter, that shouldn't be a problem, either. My 1520, with an 8600M GT, came with an AC adapter with Dell P/N: XD757, for reference (it says the P/N on the sticker on the adapter).

    Other upgrades - some people would suggest a higher-resolution screen; I think that's personal preference, and like my low-res screen quite well. A wireless card upgrade to Wireless N is also possible, although to really take advantage of it you'd need a Wireless N router as well. That'll give you better wireless range, and faster file transfers with other computers on your network that also have Wireless N. You could also upgrade your optical drive to Blu-Ray (or possible HD-DVD if you bought those back in the day), but be aware that the 1520 comes with a PATA optical drive connector. Many laptop Blu-Ray drives are SATA, so do your research if you look into this upgrade. A battery upgrade, or second battery, is also possible - if you have the 6-cell, a 9-cell is also available. I believe Dell even offers an optical drive battery for the 1520, although it's a bit overpriced. Really, you'd be better off with a third-party (but still compatible) battery across the board from an economic standpoint. Finally, you may be able to find something useful to do with your ExpressCard slot. Possibilities include TV Tuners, eSATA ports for fast external hard drive connections, and, before too long, USB 3.0 ports for fast USB connections. What, if anything, makes sense there depends on how you use your laptop.

    Good luck with the upgrades!
     
  8. H.A.L. 9000

    H.A.L. 9000 Occam's Chainsaw

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    That covered just about everything.. I've got nothing to add.. That was a great post!
     
  9. TheChappie

    TheChappie Notebook Enthusiast

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    Yes, that is about the single most helpful post I think I've read so far on any matter concerning the 1520.

    So now, seeing as getting a new 8600m is my best option, where can I get one? Dell's website doesn't list it (or at least I can't find one using their search feature) and it seems that all the ones I find for sale are coming out of MacBooks.

    Another question would be what can I do to improve cooling/airflow without having to lose my keyboard (I noticed one member here did that)?

    And yes, at the time I exercised the downgrade option. I didn't need anything more at the time as I didn't expect to do any hardcore gaming and I wasn't a fan of using Vista when I really didn't have any necessity for it. I found really at the time all it did was bottleneck.
     
  10. crayonyes

    crayonyes Custom Title! WooHoooo !!

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    just a little correction, don't need to find 7k500.B, it's the 5400rpm one that has 12.5mm height (5k500 ), 5k500.B is 9.5mm height
    Get whatever 7K500, they're all 9.5mm for the moment
    And you meant 640GB WD Scorpio Blue , not Caviar :)
    although for performance upgrade it's recommended to get either 7k500 or WD3200BEKT
     
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