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Upgrading Santa Rosa Laptop to 45nm Penryn - Is it possible?

by cwatkin / March 10, 2008 2:39 AM PDT

I presently own a Dell Precision M4300 Laptop based on an an Intel Core 2 Duo T7300 CPU with 4MB L2 cache. They are now selling these systems with the T9300 (and others) Penryn 45nm processors. I noticed that there were a flurry of BIOS updates for my system right around this time and I always have upgraded so I am now on version A09.

I was wondering if there was really anything different about these new models of the M4300 or if my laptop would accept the same CPUs being sold in the new laptops. I bought this unit a few months old at a dramatic discount and seem to remember it being shipped to the original owner in Oct 2007. I know that sometimes there will be multiple revisions of the same motherboard model and want to make sure my computer will support the Penryn update first.

Some forums state that the Santa Rosa is restricted to 65nm and cannot be upgraded. Others state that you should just be able to drop in provided you have a recent BIOS revision.

Since this unit already has 4GB of RAM and a 200GB 7200 RPM hard drive, this will be my only major planned upgrade prior to replacing the unit in a few years once Nehelem or another such unit becomes commonplace. I plan on the T9300 CPU (2.5GHZ) unless I hold off for a few months as there is a significant price increase for the T9500 (2.6GHZ model).

If a motherboard replacement is in order, I might get another 65nm CPU in a few months once the prices drop.

So, my main question is... Is there any reason I should NOT proceed with this CPU upgrade when I feel the time/price is right? The thermal output is lower than my existing chip and cooling shouldn't be a problem.

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Did you look to see if
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / March 10, 2008 3:24 AM PDT

Dell's BIOS supports the new CPU? And if the CPU is in a socket?

Either will deny such an upgrade. Also, ask Dell since they'll know.


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Dell Information
by cwatkin / March 10, 2008 3:54 AM PDT
In reply to: Did you look to see if

Yes, the BIOS as of A06 or A07 supported the 45nm Penryn CPU with an 800MHZ FSB. Both chips are also in the Socket P format so I could physically get such a chip to fit but don't know if it would fire. Since CPUs aren't cheap and are generally non-returnable, I would like to know if this is possible for sure before proceeding.

I have looked this up online multiple times and haven't found reports of either success or failure on any Santa Rosa notebook. I just looked up the topic again and found my recently posted thread (this thread) as the number one choice for this topic.

They keep referring to this first generation of 45nm mobile CPUs as the "Santa Rosa Refresh". Is this a refresh of just the CPU or does it also apply to the chipset? This has an Intel PM965 chipset, which appears to support both 65 and 45nm CPUs. Sometimes there are issues where the same exact model of motherboard has a different revision. I know a friend who got burned that way when he went to upgrade his Pentium D desktop board to a Core 2 Duo. The new versions of that same board supported the Core 2 Duo while his revision did not, even though both had the same model number.

Barring an accident, I plan to keep this unit for a while and feel this would be worth upgrading, provided this is a viable option.

I just went to the Dell website and this brought up another question. Will such a modification void my warranty? Since I still have close to three years and must provide my service tag for support, I am not sure if I want to contact Dell directly. I have done plenty of CPU changes, including a several on notebooks, so I am not worried about messing anything up. On the other hand, I work on computers and often see units brought to me due to poorly planned upgrades/modifications (IE: people removing CPUs from the ZIF socket with vise-grip pliers instead of using the release lever OR someone who completely disassembled their computer to rid it of a virus) and can see why a manufacturer might not honor a warranty after end user modification. Is this something else to consider before upgrading? If I wait three years, I will likely be looking into buying an entire new unit instead of upgrading this one.



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Then you are looking for.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / March 10, 2008 4:04 AM PDT
In reply to: Dell Information

Someone that tried it. A call to dell is the fast answer. Otherwise just ask on as many boards as you can, including the Dell forum.


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Yes, exactly & what about my warranty?
by cwatkin / March 10, 2008 4:21 AM PDT

Yes, exactly! I am looking for someone that has tried it.

I mentioned this in my previous post but will this void my warranty? That is why I am not rushing out to contact Dell as they require my service tag before they will provide support on my product. Re-read the last part of my previous post for my concerns on this.



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There will be no warranty.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / March 10, 2008 4:31 AM PDT

You are off the reservation so all the rules and warranties are gone.

I can't find why you would not want to talk directly to Dell.

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PS. Read a few other posts
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / March 10, 2008 4:36 AM PDT

And when you note such for me to read, give a link. All I could read was about a 100 buck laptop with integrated video.

But I do see a trend in your posts. You seem to be trying to upgrade laptops like we did with desktops. Those kind tend to explode or flame on the forums about this area being nothing but dead ends with no support. Let me be very blunt and write that for a laptop it's like a car with the hood welded shut.

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Laptop Upgrading
by cwatkin / March 10, 2008 4:46 AM PDT

I have upgraded/repaired quite a few laptop units and don't see them as a car with the hood welded shut, although there are a few instances where this is the case.

I have replaced/upgraded laptop screens, optical drives, hard drives, CPU's, cooling systems, internal network/wireless cards, entire motherboards, motherboard power jacks, keyboards, touchpads, etc., even after severe user abuse so they are serviceable to a certain degree. The only problem I ever had with a laptop being non-serviceable was when I got ahold of one with integrated video. I wanted to ad discrete video but this would have required a complete motherboard replacement so I scrapped that project due to the extra effort and expense required.


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Power chisel.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / March 10, 2008 4:51 AM PDT
In reply to: Laptop Upgrading

Even a car with the hood welded shut can be fixed with the power chisel. But what you are asking for is on the outer fringes so to get to the heart of the matter the phone would be used to call Dell. For me it's a cheap call and cuts through all the clutter down to the answer.

I too have replaced many laptop drives and other parts as I design electronics, own a solder iron, oscilloscope etc. But this doesn't mean I know it all, just how to get the answers. Why would you dismiss asking the horse what they think?

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A lot of downside
by samkh / March 11, 2008 12:29 AM PDT
In reply to: Laptop Upgrading

and almost no upside. That applies for you and for Dell.

For Dell or any other vendor, if you were to call Tech Support, I'm almost sure you will get the safest legal and support answer, which is "nope you can't do it" or better yet "you will void your warranty if you do so". Judging from your experience in repairs and in dealing with owners, what would you say if you were in Dell's shoes?

For you, how much are you expecting to gain from such upgrade?
1. performance? A little, depending on programs you run
2. cooling? A little but not enough to turn off the fan, for example
3. batteries? Not enough to add an hour, for example

You are correct in your concern about the mobo version. You can run Belarc to see what you have. Maybe, just maybe, Dell will tell you which version they ship with Penryns, but don't bet on it. Anyhow I wouldn't trust the answer you get. Realize that tech support is not Lab nor are they Mfg Engineering nor are they Production. They are sometimes the last to know what's happening with the details. Again, not a slam of Dell and it applies to any other vendor.

Some laptops can successfully upgrade/downgrade CPUs but others may fail to boot. CPU swaps is still a crap shoot for laptops because they are not designed to be completely modular like desktops. Are you feeling lucky?

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