Laptop Upgrade Insight

Discussion in 'Computer Games and General Discussion' started by I2aven's_Sag, Apr 27, 2010.

Apr 27, 2010

Laptop Upgrade Insight by I2aven's_Sag at 8:51 PM (925 Views / 0 Likes) 8 replies

  1. I2aven's_Sag
    OP

    Member I2aven's_Sag GBATemp Otaku

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2009
    Messages:
    726
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    Country:
    United States
    I'm reluctant to post here, but I'm seeking some insight. My current laptop is an alienware M15x (the newer version)
    Currently it has an i7-720QM-(1.6-2.8) CPU/Processor and a Nvidia GT 240M video Card. I'm considering (during this coming summer)
    upgrading the CPU/Processor and the Video Card. The computer was a dell REPLACEMENT for a most problematic XPS M1530.
    Over Priced hardware / paying for the alienware brand, I know. I've done lurking and research on desktop and laptops for a while now.

    From looking around ebay, the cheapest the processor tends to go for is around $250-500 and the video card is for around $300-500.

    I'm considering for the CPU an i7-620M (2.66-3.33) and a GTX 260M for the GPU. I know that mobile parts are hard to come by and the only
    "reliable", and I use the word "reliable," skeptically source for prices on both is ebay. I wish this weren't so, but if anyone knows any additional
    laptop-upgrade specific sites I'd sincerely appreciate it.

    I'm not at the moment, as much of a gamer as I was in the past, I tend to play casual Scifi MMO's and single player RPG's. A reason I'm considering
    the CPU upgrade is for PCSX2, as the PS2 has the widest library of titles out of most any recent system to date. Since PCSX2 only uses 2 cores my
    current 720QM only caps out at about 2.4gh'z, which makes playing some of the more graphic intensive titles harder. I'm not necessarily up for
    the 260M upgrade, but I figured I'd toss it out there because it's the "best $/Buck card out there".

    I understand that Dual Core PC's would be better for PCSX2, especially ones that cap out around 3.0Gh'z, but I'd also like to keep a quad core for
    media/video editing in the future. I believe the hyperthreading and multi-core use would be beneficial for learning how to work with photoshop better
    and help me express myself through video editing / AMV's etc. Knowing whether my laptop has other options other than quad-core PC's would also
    help me out. I do understand that most traditional companies have their GPU/CPU soldered to the motherboard, but I'd like to think that alienware isn't one
    of them.

    I also know that Alienware has a semi-unlocked multiplier as far as Overclocking is concerned, and I do use a laptop cooler 90% of the time. I would like
    some basic suggestions as to how to experiment/approach this feature. I know that laptops generate more heat and therefore, OC'ing is most always a bad idea,
    however, this laptop hasn't ever gotten to terribly "hot." The hottest it's gotten is around 60 celcius, at which point I tend to let it cool on its own for a while. Ventilation
    wise I could do better and use a more flat-surface, but this laptop does have a fairly good ventilation-design. (if only I could control the fans a bit more, which may
    be more of a durability issue than anything else...)(but low/med/high would be nice options...)

    also does anyone know of any services or company's that would be willing to help me undergo the upgrading process as I understand it is a pain in the butt?

    I've always found computers interesting, but ultimately, portability triumps over desktop computers for me. I'm not expecting to do any "ultra" texture settings
    gaming, or super high resolution gaming. Maybe someday I'll go back to a desktop, but for now, as a student, I really like the portability. This thread is to discuss
    upgrade options (and future options, if applicable) for my machine.

    To be honest, so long as I can enjoy what I'm doing I'd rather save the money. I'll be working a lot this summer to
    save up spending money for college, but I figured I may as well think about some goals as well.

    I don't want to hear arguments in this thread, if people argue then I will have the thread closed. State your insightful opinions in as best a way you
    can appealing to a person with a semi-decent level of comprehension.
     
  2. Originality

    Member Originality Chibi-neko

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2008
    Messages:
    5,154
    Location:
    London, UK
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    As a fellow laptop user who has upgraded my media laptop from a Centrino Duo to a Core 2 Duo, I can offer an insight into the process. As for overclocking it, I'm afraid I'll have to leave that to others, since I've only ever overclocked PCs.

    The first thing I did in upgrading my laptop was open it up and take a look. Every laptop has custom cooling and it is this very cooling system that is your biggest obstacle in even attempting an upgrade. If you can see the socket of the CPU and/or GPU, then you should be able to upgrade it. You might have to remove a heatpipe or two to get at it, but that'll become easier if you take the entire case off. If you can't see the socket, then things become a little more difficult (either because the CPU/GPU may be located behind the keyboard, or because you'll have to remove the entire cooling system to get at them, or because it's hard-soldered to the motherboard and upgrading is near impossible - the latter being rare).

    The second thing to do is do some research. Find out what motherboard and BIOS version you have, then google them and find out what chips they're compatible with. A cheap way to find out is to look at the company's product range and see the different specifications they offer - take Acer 5942 for example - it has at least 5 configurations varying between Core i3 to Core i7. You can also email the company for more information - PB told me which 3 CPUs I could look for to upgrade with, but they told me the technical information for upgrading is classified (I had to figure it out myself).

    Last step - have a go, and be very careful. Laptops were never designed to be taken apart after assembly (and certainly not for upgrading) but for many laptops, it's still possible. Some things (like heatpipes) will move and even come free with little force. Some things will need more force, but may also break inadvertently. Some things break if you even glance at it without a smile on your face (like the dust filter I had on one of the air vents). For my laptop, all I had to do was twist one heatpipe 90 degrees, remove three screws, remove the brace, and just lift the chip out - it was that easy. Then I had to put the new CPU in, screw the brace back on, put a little thermal paste (because it had none previously), and ease the heatpipe back into position. I took an hour and a bit doing everything, but that's because I took no chances (I didn't want to make any mistakes).

    Finally, my opinion: whilst this information is definitely useful to know and may come in handy should the laptop ever break down, I think you should stick with your current CPU/GPU. For a laptop, they're very good parts and should serve you well for a long time. Still, if you feel the need for a better machine and don't mind paying and experimenting for it, then go for it.
     
  3. I2aven's_Sag
    OP

    Member I2aven's_Sag GBATemp Otaku

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2009
    Messages:
    726
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    Country:
    United States
    I'll save my money. To be honest, I have bigger things to worry about now that most of my classes have nearly ended. Thanks for the insight into taking your laptop apart ; ) Originality.
     
  4. Originality

    Member Originality Chibi-neko

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2008
    Messages:
    5,154
    Location:
    London, UK
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    I'm in the same boat - classes have ended and I've only got my final exams before graduating University.

    Only a couple of weeks left to revise, and I'm spending all my time printing out the novel I just completed.....
     
  5. Cermage

    Member Cermage GBAtemp Advanced Maniac

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2007
    Messages:
    1,702
    Country:
    Australia
    if you're planning to upgrade mainly for pcsx2, with the money you're paying for a new mobile processor you could pick up an actual ps2's, a recorder like an ezcap and still have plenty of money left over. hooking up your ps2 to your laptop and having it display on your screen works wonders.

    right now, your i7m is plenty for learning photoshop and other editing software. heck i started using photoshop on my p3. your current setup is fine, unless you're working with absurd resolutions like upwards standard wallpaper resolutions... like i dunno, 1900x1200+, but most home users wouldn't be doing that.

    as for overclocking, laptops were never made to run outside their standard speeds, heating is going to be a huge problem if you intend to go further. even reaching 60C now is a pretty big indicator. people start to back out around 60-65, absolute is around 70. i'm not entirely sure if the heat threshold is the same on mobile processors, but they're designed to output as little heat as possible along with sucking as little power as possible, exact opposite of what you're trying to do with them.
     
  6. Raki

    Member Raki GBAtemp Advanced Fan

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2008
    Messages:
    554
    Country:
    Germany
    the i7 620m performs a bit worse than the i7 720qm and since nehalem is able to downclock single cores and turn them off and overclock the other cores you get similar performance in dual core mode
    the only advantage you would gain with this is the power consumption, but since you want to put in such a power drinking GPU you don't seem to care about battery life
     
  7. I2aven's_Sag
    OP

    Member I2aven's_Sag GBATemp Otaku

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2009
    Messages:
    726
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    Country:
    United States
    I hadn't really thought about battery life that much. Generally if I take my laptop anywhere I tend to take the power adapter anyway. I think I'll just stay with my current specs then. I don't really prefer super big resolutions, so gaming should actually be fine. I get about 3 hours now on power-saver settings which I consider fairly great considering it's a high-performance laptop. The native resolution for this screen is 1600x900 which has taken some time to get used to.

    We have a PS2 downstairs, but I didn't really think that I could connect it to my laptop? Also, now that both of my little brothers have computers, and we moved a few months ago most of the PS2 discs are scattered, (namely the one's I'd like to play) Nor am I particularly sure of myself (as far as modding/swap magic'ing a PS2) I am. Heck, I don't even know what model it is...and it's easier to organize digital ISO's than lost CD's. I'm not saying I won't consider the option, but I'm not sure we have a spair VGA/HDMI cable lying around.

    Anyhow, I just picked up a $5 SCII beta key which I can play on medium+ settings if I'm plugged in so that's what I'm going to be doing a considerable amount of today! I'm just finishing my first year of college, I'll have more time to work on college/university apps and on my job [​IMG].

    ...Well, maybe I'll update them in time. The processor still seems like it would be nice for PCSX2, and it would make my laptop a bit greener you said? That's a plus...I guess it will come down to which is cheaper when I have the $ xD...Oh these Blizzard SC II Beta Updates Ohhh Dear >
     
  8. Raki

    Member Raki GBAtemp Advanced Fan

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2008
    Messages:
    554
    Country:
    Germany
     
  9. I2aven's_Sag
    OP

    Member I2aven's_Sag GBATemp Otaku

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2009
    Messages:
    726
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    Country:
    United States
     

Share This Page