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Let me know if this is the right place for this. If it is not, I apologize.

I wanted to refurb/repurpose my old gaming laptop (~7 years old). I don't need it for gaming anymore but it'd be nice to have something lightweight and easy to watch netflix on, play with/learn Linux, etc. Nothing video gaming related and nothing computationally intensive.

The main problems with it is that it is super slow (long boot time), has malfunctioning keyboard keys, and runs very hot.

To fix these problems I've come up with the following:

  1. Replace old HDD with a small cheap ( < $70) SSD
  2. Replace old keyboard (found one for ~$20 on amazon). Looks like I will be losing the backlighting but not a huge deal
  3. Increase amount of RAM. It currently has 4 GB (2x 2GB sticks) of DDR2 SDRAM. Would increasing this speed up the overall performance of the laptop? Should 4 GB be fine for what I am describing? Will any type of DDR2 SDRAM work in it?

As far as heat goes, would it be feasible to turn off/disconnect the video card so that it doesn't generate heat? I know that some CPUs can run integrated/onboard graphics so I thought that iwas a possibility. It'd be alright with me since I won't be doing anything that requires 3D graphics, just videos on netflix/youtube. The sticker on my laptop says "Intel Centrino 2" Does anyone know if this CPU supports onboard graphics?

I appreciate any and all input on this. Please feel free to educate me if I got anything wrong or misused any words/terms!

Thanks

  • 1) If it has 4 GB RAM, additional RAM won't buy you anything for the kind of use you're describing. Save the money and put it towards your next "real" computer. 2) Don't put a lot of money into repairs. It's old enough that other stuff will start to fail. The SSD could be re-purposed, so no waste. 3) Check the inside for dust. Blow off fans, heat sinks, etc. Could be contributing to the heat. – fixer1234 Mar 29 '16 at 1:10
  • Good point! I'll take a can of compressed air to it tomorrow. Good advice on the RAM. Lookin like that would have been too expensive anyway. Not sure what else might fail. MOBO? I don't know that much about parts. I'd assume the HDD first if I wasn't replacing it. – Nukesub Mar 29 '16 at 1:18
  • Laptop screens are a common failure item on old units. The battery is a relatively expensive maintenance item. Keyboards are common. Built-in optical drives tend to be light-duty models. Little switches and light-duty connectors can break. Electrolytic capacitors can go on the circuit boards. – fixer1234 Mar 29 '16 at 1:30
  • More good to know info! Thank you. How much life would you estimate (obviously a rough ball park) out of 2009 laptop that has seen decent use and only been smacked/slammed a handful of times (haha). I mean, less than $100 in refurbishment probably isn't a bad investment, at least that is the hope. – Nukesub Mar 29 '16 at 1:34
  • no one can estimate a laptop life more than the user himself, because the user knows his usage. So, the more awareness of laptop usage, the more life you will gain toward. If you still consider your laptop in a good condition , then refurbishment will be a good idea, else, save your money towards for the new computer adjustments. P.S I have a Dell XPS laptop since 2006 and still works fine with my cousin. the only parts that I replaced were RAMs, HDD, Keyboard, and battery. and I change the thermal paste once a year along with cleaning the dust inside. – iSR5 Mar 29 '16 at 1:58
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Agreed with the others that more RAM will not help you. An SSD will be a huge improvement, plus if you're running the original windows it came with it's probably full of junk causing it to slow down. Windows, especially prior to 7 has a tendency to slow down over time. A fresh install will help you tremendously. I recommend you use at least Windows 7. As for the heat, if you're not running 3d games it's very unlikely that it's caused by the graphics card, so don't touch that, as you could ruin it. Replacing the hard drive with an ssd and a fresh install will also improve the heat problem. A further thing you can do to reduce heat is to go into Bios and check that the CPU throttles and other heat saving measures are not turned off. CPUs have feature like SpeedStep that automatically throttle their usage to reduce heat and energy. In case this is turned off, that could be a cause of overheating. A fan replacement may also be good if your fan is loud, which happens with old fans.

  • I don't have any copies of Windows on hand so I was going to use some version of Linux. I'll check out the BiOS for the heat saving measures you mentioned. Didn't know about those. Thanks! – Nukesub Mar 29 '16 at 1:49
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I would stay away from disconnecting the video card even if you have Intel Integrated Graphics. You really need to have that and integrated GPUs are the worst, I have one myself.

I would definitely upgrade the HDD, that can make a huge difference. I actually upgraded my MacBook's hard drive to an SSD and changed my boot time from >30 seconds to around 7.

You do not NEED to upgrade the RAM, but it would be good. I don't think the RAM is why your computer is slow, but it will definitely make it better. I would say it's medium priority.

As for updating the keyboard, that is up to you, although you may want to consider cleaning the one you have right now.

I hope everything goes well for you!

  • Hey, thanks for the reply! Too bad about the video card, damn thing runs so hot. Sounds like a Pratt&Whitney engine on my lap! Wish there was some way I could tone it down. The RAM is gonna be a "no go" afterall. Seems the price difference in DDR2 SDRAM between 2x 2GB sticks and 2x 4 GB sticks is substantial. I could just buy a cheap chromebook for the price basically so no point there. I'll look into cleaning the keyboard. I figured it was so old and the membrane was going, but maybe it is build up of dust/junk. – Nukesub Mar 29 '16 at 0:48

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