Monday, November 12, 2012

Resurecting a Dell M1530 Laptop

I got a great deal at Dell outlet four years ago - a Dell XPS M1530 aluminum laptop for just under a thousand dollars.  Yes, today you can get a darn good ultrabook for that but that was then.

Well that bargain worked well even though it's powerful (then) 8600GT nVidia display chip was flawed from the start.  The chip was put into several high-end laptops from Dell and Apple.  They acknowledged the problem but failed to recall the chips, instead having manufacturers handle things.  For Dell, this was an extra year of warranty (big deal).

Well my time bomb went off about four months ago - first intermittently then for good two months ago.

I read up on the home cures.  Pretty iffy.  Then I finally had time to call Dell today - $378+tax and shipping to send to a depot for repair out of warranty.  For a Core2Duo, not a bargain.  So I got out the hair dryer.

The procedure is detailed in this blog post.  Forget the hair dryer in the intake or with the heat sink on, temporary at best.  One has to remove the heatsink/fan unit (not that hard really, 7 screws after opening the cover).  Then you clean the old thermal paste off the chips and heatsink with rubbing alcohol and a coffee filter.  Aim your hair dryer on high to the nVidia chip for 5 minutes (avoiding other components).  Allow to cool to room temperature.  Then apply a half-pea size dab of ceramic heat paste to the CPU and graphics chip and place the heatsink/fan back in, tightening according to the numbering next to the screws (hand tight first, then final snug fit).  Fire up and hopefully you see Windows again.

I don't hold my breath on this but so far so good.  I shouldn't sweat buying a new laptop, as they will be getting much cheaper as a glut shows itself (I posted on this earlier today).  But as I've said before, most true Makers are cheap.  Plus the unit has all my personal configurations and software, something that takes a good half day to get loaded and configured.

If this works, I will use it on my test bench rather than moving a desktop over there.  Space is at a premium.