Happy Birthday, Laptop

This XPS M1330 has been modified to have an aftermarket Vostro 1210 keyboard.

This XPS M1330 has been modified to have an aftermarket Vostro 1210 keyboard. It has also lost its palm rest.

Six years ago, almost to the day, I received my Dell XPS M1330. Except for the fact that its motherboard had to be replaced 3 times (all under warranty, fortunately) because the Nvidia graphics chip had trouble with heat, this has been a fine laptop. It had almost perfect Linux compatibility from the first day I had it, though later Linux releases had regressions in the iwl4965 driver for the Wi-Fi chip. That’s been fixed recently, though, so it’s back to being pretty functional.

It wasn’t all smooth, though. For a long while, the laptop would overheat rapidly and throttle the processors resulting in very poor performance shortly after running anything intensive. I switched out the thermal paste and checked the vents and fan, but completely forgot to check the heat sink fins (which are hidden underneath the fan) for dust. These were packed, and after cleaning out the heat sink and applying the famous copper mod, everything runs really well under Linux. It still sometimes shuts off under Windows 8 if I play Civilisation, though.

The keyboard was destroyed in an unfortunate accident shortly after I first arrived in Raleigh, but replacing it also allowed me to ‘fix’ the webcam (the ribbon cable had come loose) which I’d figured was lost. I always wanted a black keyboard for this laptop, so I replaced it with one from a Vostro 1210. The only problem is that in the process of doing this, the palm rest (damaged years ago when I dropped the laptop off the side of a desk) has come free. Now the whole thing looks rather funny, what with the Wi-Fi chip and card reader PCB visible through the front. I was actually hoping to replace the optical drive with a second hard drive, but I stripped the last screw I had on the motherboard so it’s practically impossible to do that now. Pity, that would have been nice.

Still, I’d given up on this laptop some time ago so I’m really pleased to see that it’s functioning great now. Six years is a long time.

Total cost? About 65000 INR all fixes and upgrades included. Not bad.