Upgradability and parts
Traditionally, most laptops are hard to upgrade. This is caused by a variety of factors, including custom chassis, custom parts, and market segmentation. Some of the high end laptop manufacturers have tried offering upgradeable laptops, but that idea didn’t work so well, since most of them were very expensive, and were troublesome to support. Vostro 1510 makes a few things a lot easier to upgrade, if you have the parts that fit.
The bottom of the laptop has undergone a major redesign compared to its older sibling. There are 2 main compartments, each only secured by 2 Philips screws. One of them contains wireless networking hardware and hard disk, and the other contains the memory and CPU, as well as fan. This has made some small changes to configuration for review purposes very easy.
This is the first laptop besides the XPS series I came across which actually makes CPU upgrade easy at home, if you have a processor that will work in this laptop. Dell offers CPUs from Celeron 540 to Core 2 Duo T9300 as available, and just about everything in between should work. The reason it’s so easy is because the system now uses a single heatpipe and a single fan and both are accessible from the bottom of the laptop. If you wanted to replace a CPU in a Vostro 1500, you would have to take most of the laptop apart, undo about 2 dozen screws of widely varying sizes, and take out the system board. Whereas here, you take out the fan and the heatpipe, and the CPU is right there. So if you have access to aftermarket CPUs, the sky err motherboard is the limit.
It is worth noting, that a single cooling fan design does not cause any issues with heat or noise. In my comparison, a Vostro 1500 with a T7500 processor and 8600M GT video card was both warmer and louder because of the more hot video card, and CPU as well as dual-fan design.
As with most laptops, memory (RAM) is easy to upgrade. It uses standard locking sockets, and replacing the modules (up to 2GB each DDR2-667 or DDR2-800 SoDIMM) is very easy. Just remember, on the first try, the memory/cpu module cover is hard to remove, and I was convinced there should be a screw besides the 2 holding it in place, but it’s just the 4 plastic hinges that lock pretty tight that cause that illusion.
This is also one of the few laptops that do not use a hard drive mounting caddy, the hard drive simply slides into a serial ATA port, no screws required. It accepts a standard 2.5″, 9.5mm serial ATA laptop hard drive, currently available in capacities up to 320GB. Unfortunately, the 500GB 11.5mm 3-platter hard drives (such as the one inside the recent SimpleTech drive) do not fit.
Trying on 500GB Hitachi drive (It doesn’t fit…)
Physically it may be possible, as there is some plastic padding underneath the drive, but it is unclear if it will ever be accommodated for. All in all, 320GB should be plenty for everyone in a laptop.
As mentioned earlier, slot-loading optical drive mechanism makes it hard to upgrade it due to low availability of aftermarket parts. The same goes for the video card – it’s integrated into the system board. You will have to make a decision for both of these at time of purchase, and stick with it for the life of the notebook.Previous Next
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