Hardware Mod: Upgrading my processor for a much needed speed improvement

December 29th, 2009

Hardware, Personal Rants

I hate to say it, but my Laptop just isn’t running like it once was. Everything seems so slow and takes forever to run. I tried a reinstall of OS X, but that didn’t seem to help. Things aren’t much better in Windows either (not that I would expect them to be). I’ve already upgraded this laptop (my Inspiron 1525) to the max of 4GB of RAM but it just doesn’t want to run fast. I mean, maybe I’m spoiled with the whole Quad Core Desktop and all, but still, I need SOME speed. So despite the fairly hefty price tag and the nuisance of tinkering around in my laptop, I’ve decided to upgrade the processor.

Currently, I’m sporting a T2370 1.73GHz Dual Core Processor with a 533MHz FSB, not exactly the finest babe on the block. Actually, she’s rather old and saggy, if you will. I’ve had my eye out on an upgrade for a while now and I’ve finally chosen the one. Yes, she’s the one for me. As soon as I save up enough money, which is hard now that I’m splurging on Apps for my new iPod Touch, I will be purchasing a T8300 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo Processor with an 800MHz FSB for my trusty Inspiron 1525.

Update: I found a sweet deal on a T7300 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo with an 800MHz FSB for only $70 so I purchased it. When it arrives, which will probably be in a week, I will document the entire upgrade process.

, , , , ,

About Thomas

Thomas is a self-proclaimed guru (just ask him). He enjoys long walks on the beach, running Mac OS X on his Inspiron 1525, and tweeting about nonsensical life happenings. You can follow Thomas on twitter, email him, or search the interwebs for all his personal information. Neither should be too difficult.

View all posts by Thomas

15 Responses to “Hardware Mod: Upgrading my processor for a much needed speed improvement”

  1. Brandon

    Glad to hear the installation went so seamlessly! I’m interested in doing this, do you mind my asking what processor you had before? I’m interested in a speed boost, just trying to decide if it will be worth it. I’m currently running 1.82 GHz (according to about this Mac), think this will be a worthwhile upgrade? Or should I shoot for something higher? I’ve never upgraded a laptop’s processor before, but I build desktops all the time, so I’m pretty confident I could do it. Is the process really any more difficult? Thanks!

    • Thomas

      Previously, I had the Intel Pentium Dual Core T2370. My upgrade bumped me from 1.73GHz to 2GHz, but also from 533MHz FSB to 800MHz, 1M cache to 4M cache, and added Virtualization. I saw a pretty noticeable speed increase due to these changes. You can’t necessarily trust About This Mac for your system specs. See if you can find your configuration on Dell.com with your Service Tag. If I know your actual processor and your budget, I can recommend a suitable upgrade. Upgrading the processor on the Inspiron 1525 is extremely simple; there’s actually a YouTube video on how to do it.

      • Brandon

        I actually went onto Dell’s site and found the info for my current configuration. Here’s the processor: Processor, T7250, 2.0, 2MB Core Merom , M0. From what I’ve seen on eBay, a decent upgrade from that is probably going to really cost me. I’m also running 4 GB of ram. This is a production laptop for my video company, and I’ve been thinking of replacing it (but haven’t due to price), so it has to be kinda beefy. The current processor is really starting to show it’s age, and in the world of HD video, it just chokes while editing.

        BTW, as a side note, just wanted to say I bought this computer about 3 years ago because of this site and the support you offer. It’s been a great help. Thanks!

        • Thomas

          The highest upgrade you’d be able to perform would be to get a T7700. The upgrade would only be a 400MHz boost and give an additional 2MB Cache, an abysmal upgrade to justify the $100+ price tag. Due to the poor video performance from the GMA X3100, you’d be best saving the $100 for a new computer.

          Glad we were able to influence your decision (hopefully for the better!) and help you along the way. It’s users like you that inspire us.

          • Brandon

            Why will my computer not support something like the t9500 (not that I can afford it anyway)? From your last post: “This Inspiron can go all the way up to a T9500 I believe. Basically, any Socket P Mobile Processor with an 800MHZ FSB is supported. Thankfully, all 1525′s have the same motherboard, regardless of whether it came with a Core 2 Duo, Dual Core, etc., so they all support the same processors.”

            Sorry, now I’m just confused.

            • Thomas

              My apologies. My original post was correct; my comment was incorrect. You can upgrade your processor to the T9500, though it is a costly upgrade. It does however provide a 600MHz speed boost and a boost from 2MB cache to 6MB.

  2. Thomas

    Not even close. This Inspiron can go all the way up to a T9500 I believe. Basically, any Socket P Mobile Processor with an 800MHZ FSB is supported. Thankfully, all 1525’s have the same motherboard, regardless of whether it came with a Core 2 Duo, Dual Core, etc., so they all support the same processors. I would have loved to upgrade to the 9000 or even the 8000 series processors, but they were unfortunately way out of my budget. For $70, I’m satisfied with what I got.

    • Thomas

      Just got the WiFi card in the mail today. Gonna install it and take some pics and maybe, just maybe, this thing will actually work (After seeing it, I’m a little reluctant).

      • Thomas

        Fortunately, it works! The BIOS simply recognizes it as “Broadcom Wireless” while OS X still recognizes it as “Third Party Wireless Card” in System Profiler. Anywho, it does work and I didn’t have to install any additional kexts. I’m going to fresh install Leopard to a new partition just to verify that the card works with the stock kexts cause, if it doesn’t, it’s a pointless upgrade (besides for the Wireless N support, of course). And amidst all my excitement, I forgot to take any pictures or document anything. The installation is quite simply though so I’ll gladly take it apart and repeat/document the procedure.

  3. Richard Ward

    Upgrades! I may try to score one of these babies in the future. I missed the boat on Black Friday netbook deals or I’d be writing another tutorial. Is this the fastest processor the 1525 holds?

  4. Kyle

    I’m definitely interested in finding out the speed results as well. My 1.87 GHz 533FSB is slowing down big time, so if I can make a huge improvement for only $70 then I would be all over it!

  5. Wolfer

    I’ll catch up with you soon, Thomas… In the meantime however, you were able to pull the former processor (whatever it was) and throw in the T7300 without issue? I’ve never even taken the 1525 completely apart so I’m not familiar with the design, but I assume it’s just a standard Socket P you’re dealing with.

    Being currently at 1.6GHz I wouldn’t mind doing the same someday soon. Not to mention, I would highly desire the Supplemental SSE3, Execute Disable Bit, Dynamic Acceleration, and most of all the Virtualization Technology that T7300 would provide vs. what I’ve got now. I can’t run Parellels without VT. And, needless to say, it would be nice to be able to.

    • Thomas

      The upgrade was practically seamless; remove the bottom panel, unscrew the heatsink, turn the screw to unlock the processor, remove the old processor, and then repeat in reverse order once the new processor is in. It is also recommended that the thermal paste be reapplied. I recommend Arctic Silver as a tube of it can be had on ebay for less than $8 yet it performs extremely well. After the upgrade, the BIOS (version A16) automatically detected the new processor, as expected, and OS X/Windows were just fine with the change.

      Speed wise, the new processor is great. The speed improvement was much needed and is quite noticeable in real world testing (running applications and what have you). iTunes is faster, Firefox is faster, Word is faster, and most importantly, my laptop boots faster. I may have some XBench scores at home, though there is a possibility that they were deleted. If I still have them, I’ll post them in a new comment. The only con I’ve noticed is slightly decreased battery life, but that’s a fair price to pay for such a monumental speed increase.

      For the price, I truly recommend that anyone and everyone looking for snappier performance upgrade their processor. If enough people request it, I’ll gladly put together a guide with some pictures. If a processor upgrade is out of the question or has already been achieved, a RAM upgrade is the next step. I’ve already made the jump to 4GB and it alone was enough to impress over it’s previous 2Gb. In terms of RAM upgrades, the largest boost in performance was achieved from 2GB->3GB, and the final upgrade from 3GB->4GB was not as prevalant. So if you’ve already got 3GB of RAM, you should be good.

      The next step in laptop upgrades would of course be to upgrade your Hard Drive to one of it’s 7200RPM brothren. This also decreases battery life, but is said to bare a large increase in speed (I upgraded to a 320GB 5400RPM Hard Drive, so I can’t verify this statement).

      Finally, my most recent, and possibly the cheapest, upgrade I’ve made is jumping from 802.11G to 802.11n.I purchased a wireless card from a Macbook on ebay a couple weeks. Once I receive it and can confirm it works, I’ll be posting a guide on how to make the upgrade and the benefits (among them is native support for the card, which directly translates into no funky wirelless kexts). At $15, this upgrade is extremely wise to do… assuming it works, of course.

      I realize I went off on a rant here when two simple questions were asked, but I feel upgrading your laptop is extremely beneficial and the more you know about the topic, the better.

  6. Wolfer

    Hey Thomas. . . Progress?

    • Thomas

      My god, did the stars align? There’s a name I haven’t seen appear in the comments for quite some time! What’s up man? How’ve you been? As for progress, I did receive my processor but I was so anxious that I completely forget about documenting the installation. Anyway, now that the thermal paste has had time to set, I’m extremely reluctant to remove it and document the installation. I am however getting a new WiFi Card (one used in real Mac’s in fact) so I will document that as it not only upgrade my capabilites to include Wireless N, but does not require any kexts other than the native OS X ones. But Wolfer, send me an email and maybe we can get caught up?