XPS 12 9250 Upgrade/Hack Success (LTE modem + 512GB SSD)

Discussion in 'Dell XPS and Studio XPS' started by jayband, Jan 18, 2016.

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  1. jayband

    jayband Newbie

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    1st post and I would like o share my upgrade/hack stories. One thing I love about the new XPS is how easy to open it as a tablet compare to Surface Pro etc. Even Dell provides the service manual so you know how to crack it open.

    Here's what you will need to read:
    http://topics-cdn.dell.com/pdf/xps-12-9250_Service Manual_en-us.pdf

    1. SSD upgrade
    The original Dell ships with the PM871 SSD (B+M key) which operates in SATA 6G, I immediately swap it out with the Samsung 950 Pro since the m.2 connector in the motherboard can accept "M" key.
    [​IMG]

    BIOS detected the SSD fine and I backed up the original factory Windows 10 + hidden partition etc using system restore image. I then restored everything into the new 950 Pro, use Acronis Director to move the hidden partitions around to get the system c: drive to 400GB of total storage. (One tip, make sure you disable Bitlocker so the HD is not encrypted, then you can move the partitions around; otherwise Acronis will choke....)

    One thing I can confirm after performing the upgrade is that the SSD will only connect at PCIe 2x speed instead of 4x. Samsung Magician confirms it and AS SSD benchmark shows it's in the range of 2x performance.
    [​IMG]

    2. LTE Modem
    When I cracked open the Dell, I saw an empty slot on the upper left corner with couple antennas with covers. I knew the slot is for the mobile broadband modem. I saw in Dell's download site has a Dell Wireless 5811e LTE Mobile Broadband Driver available but searching around google yields not results. So I moved forward looking for other NGFF LTE modem solution, I came across Huawei Me936.

    http://consumer.huawei.com/en/solutions/m2m-solutions/products/tech-specs/me936-en.htm

    Huawei made few different models and this one fits the best in terms of LTE band for USA market (ATT, Verizon, T-mobile). (B1/B2/B3/B4/B5/B7/B8/B13/B17/B20)

    [​IMG]

    Bought one off of ebay and install it, download the drivers for Windows 10 and it WORKS!

    Now it comes to the hard part.... As you can see in the above picture, the Dell motherboard does ship with a SIM slot right underneath the SD slot but you can't access it from outside. The slot is bloacked and there isn't a cutout! I wish the covering piece is plastic so you can use a X-acto knife to cut it out but in fact it's made out of metal.

    Now service manual comes handy as I have to remove the main board so I can use my dremel tool to mill out the slot. I wish I did a better job holding the milling bit but a little scratch on the chassis. Luckily, the plastic cover will hide it or I can use a Sharpie to paint it. But at least now I have the SIM slot expose...

    [​IMG]

    I tested the modem with a T-mobile SIM card and it connect to the LTE tower. Unfort, I need a tablet SIM account in order to connect to the internet to run a speed test (my iphone SIM card doesn't work in the XPS). Also I don't have another carrier's SIM to test out other LTE bands but I am sure it will work just fine.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Hope you enjoy my writeup, happy hacking!

    Disclaimer: I am not responsible if you damage your machine while performing this hack/upgrade. I am fairly sure once your did this upgrade, Dell will find a way to void your warranty so think twice before you do this!
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2016
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  2. MadCypher

    MadCypher Newbie

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    Hello,

    Thanks for sharing your experience! I have this same model on order and I've been interested to hear others experiences with upgrades.

    You said that the SSD only runs at PCIe 2X, do you think that's specific to the new Samsung drive you installed or just the m.2 connector on the tablet in general?

    Great find on the modem also! I haven't seen any others pop up on Ebay yet, but I'll keep a look out. I hate the fact that now the cellular carriers know how your accessing the internet (per device), I was thinking I would be able to just throw my mobile SIM in there when needed as well. I think there might be a hack for that, but I'll wait until I have the XPS 12 and an LTE modem to worry about it.
     
  3. jayband

    jayband Newbie

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    The 950 Pro is capable of 4x and I believe the limitation is definitely on the XPS side. On the modem side, I did some digging in ebay and the seller for the modem didn't specifically mentioned the model # but here's the link for the auction:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/262241179589?_trksid=p2060353.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK:MEBIDX:IT

    Pretty reasonable price and limited quantity.

    Cheers!
     
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  4. Edo Yeheskel

    Edo Yeheskel Newbie

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    Hi,
    Opened account here just to thank you for the explain on using the LTE Modem,
    I bought this machine because I knew it support Micro sim but didnt know how to add the Modem or which modem to buy as the DELL modem that you can see they are giving driver for it doesnt have any information on the internet,So just ordered using your the seller you posted ^
    I have one question,
    The machine is Siganture edition and the only Dell application is the supportassist,
    Do you think I should clean install it or keep it like that as after all thats the siganture edition? What you would do?
    And also you have any idea where to get the Dell active pen (But not from Dell site that not accepting international order..)
    Thanks!
     
  5. jayband

    jayband Newbie

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    I think signature edition has the minimum malware etc so you should be good to go. I don't have the Dell active pen but I do see Dell carries it on their website. I suppose you are not in US so Dell is not shipping it to you?
     
  6. Edo Yeheskel

    Edo Yeheskel Newbie

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    So you say no need for clean install ah? :D
    And yea I'm not in the US,I live in Israel so I cant pay on Dell site as they doesnt accept PayPal payments from non us accounts..
    For example the XPS I had to use a reshipper from amazon to get it here ;<
     
  7. jayband

    jayband Newbie

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    The model number for the pen is 750-AALT (Europe) & 750-AAMI (USA). I do see some European site selling it. Hope that helps.

    The US version can be found under Macmall (Not sure if they will ship overseas):
    http://www.macmall.com/s?rch&q=750-...LicenseFilter=true&includeImage=true&ssrc=box
     
  8. Edo Yeheskel

    Edo Yeheskel Newbie

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    Hi Mate,
    Hope you doing well.
    Did you see the new confirguations for the Europe market?
    • XPS 12-9250 FHD, Core m3 6Y30, 4 GB RAM, 128 GB SSD SATA3 a 1249 euro
    • XPS 12-9250 4K, Core m5 6Y57, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD SATA3 a 1599 euro
    • XPS 12-9250 4K, Core m7 6Y75, 8 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD PCIE a 1799 euro
    Look the M7 Model,The SSD is connected throught PCIE this is what you did with the Samsung Pro 950 right?
     
  9. Kwincy

    Kwincy Notebook Enthusiast

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    Is the slot for WWAN the same as the Venue 11 Pro? I just bought a XPS 12 and I'm wondering if I can move my Huawei ME906v from the Venue to the XPS. The Huawei ME906v is a NGFF M.2 form factor card.
     
  10. Edo Yeheskel

    Edo Yeheskel Newbie

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    Hi,
    Got the modem today and tried to plug the white antenna (gps one) but I cant stick it inside the socket,Any ideas?
    Also is there a way to cut off the block of the sim slot without taking everything out?
     
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