Sunday, February 03, 2008

Dell Inspiron 8600 Notebook - A New Lease of Life

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I've been using a Dell Inspiron 8600 laptop for quite a number of years and I love it to bits. When I bought it more than 3 years ago, the specs were pretty impressive, a Centrino processor, 15.4 inch WSXGA+ wide screen, discrete graphics in the form of an ATI 9600 Pro Turbo graphics card with 128 RAM and of course, an upgraded 3 years warranty plan. Total damage to the pocket: RM 6277.

Most people would ask, why spend such an unholy amount of money on a laptop. Well, I was using an Inspiron 5000 prior to the 8600, and that cost more than RM 11,000. High priced laptops tend to last longer, and I was using that Inspiron 5000 for 5 years.

The warranty for the 8600 just expired in the last quarter of 2007 but the laptop is still running fine, with the exception of the battery acting up, only holding a charge for 30 minutes.

However, 3 plus years is a long time and not willing to be left behind the Joneses, I decided to perform some upgrades. I bought the parts yesterday and my initial intention was to have the laptop run Vista. I installed the parts, which was relatively easy, and then began the process of installing Vista. It was a pain.

The operating system couldn't make nice with my internal network cards (both wired and wireless), and it crashed quite often. Having gotten fed up with the bratty OS, I decided to use Windows XP Pro instead, which was the original OS the laptop came in, and with the new upgrades, it's plenty fast! Woot!!

So, what are the laptop's specs now, post upgrade? The ones in bold are the upgraded parts:
  • Intel Pentium M Processor 725 (1.6 Ghz, 2MB Cache)
  • 15.4" WSXGA+ Display (1680 X 1050 resolution)
  • 1.5 GB DDR 333 RAM (previously 512 MB)
  • 120 GB Hard Disk Drive (previously 60 GB)
  • 128 MB DDR ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 Pro Turbo Graphics Card
  • 8X DVD +/- RW Combo Drive
Now I can run an AVG scan along side Warhammer 40,000 without it bordering me one bit. So if you have a 3, or even 2 year old laptop, consider upgrading. Laptops utilising DDR2 RAM have the most gain from this exercise as DDR2 RAM is cheap. And if you are wondering what to upgrade, go for the RAM/HDD drive route. Total damage to my pocket: RM 470.

Now, if only I can get Dell to give me a new primary battery, type 8N544, 72 watts. I would much appreciate that.