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What would improve the performance of my laptop more? Specifically:

Upgrading the CPU from:

Intel® Pentium® Dual-Core T4200 1M Cache, 2.00 GHz, 800 MHz FSB (Code Name: Penryn)

to either Intel® Core™2 Duo Processor P8800 3M Cache, 2.66 GHz, 1066 MHz FSB

or to Intel® Core™2 Duo Processor P9700 6M Cache, 2.80 GHz, 1066 MHz FSB

or alternatively,

upgrading from a 1GB Elpida to a 4GB memory chip (KEMBONA SODIMM LAPTOP DDR2 4 GB 4G 800 MHZ PC2-6400 RAM)?

And a follow up question: How do I know which CPU is compatible with my laptop (Dell Inspiron 1545 PP41L)? Do I just look at the socket type? I know from experience, that Socket P fits into my laptop, but I don't know:

  • if phsyically fitting also means 'compatible' and

  • which other socket types would also fit and be compatible.

I apologize if this has been asked before, in this fashion, please point me to the previous questions.

closed as primarily opinion-based by harrymc, DavidPostill Feb 9 at 20:05

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Mobile CPUs cannot typically be replaced by the end user. Your device isn't compatible with any of the processors you are looking at by the way. Your device is only compatible with the Socket 478. Intel indicates which socket a processor supports on the ark.intel.com page for the processor. The processors you are looking at are incompatible not due to their socket but due to their Thermal Design Power specification. – Ramhound Feb 9 at 18:07
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    Laptops are proprietary in design. Upgrading the CPU will be a crap shoot. Just like @Ramhound said, if the CPU produces more heat the cooling system might not cool it properly. And I guarantee the cooling system isn’t “upgradeable.” By proprietary, I mean the laptop is designed from the ground up with specific shapes, sizes and ratings. The “upgradeability” of any component inside is by chance alone, the manufacturer likely never intended it that way. In any case, 1GB of RAM is undoubtedly choking your system to a crawl, assuming you have Windows. Start there. – Appleoddity Feb 9 at 19:08
  • Possible duplicate of Relationship between RAM & processor speed – harrymc Feb 9 at 19:19
  • @GwenKillerby - What is confusing by my statement? The processor in question only exists in mobile products. Mobile is a term Intel uses. I am not pulling the word out of thin air. It is not wise to put in a processor that is expecting a lower TDP into a motherboard that originally came with a processor with a higher TDP. Likewise, in the end, a processor that is only 0.666 MHz faster, isn't going to make that much of a difference. – Ramhound Feb 9 at 19:23
  • @Ramhound nothing is confusing about you, you are as crystal clear and helpful as always. Appreciate your professionality, respectfulness. – GwenKillerby Feb 9 at 22:49
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The CPU and RAM are used for different things - the RAM is the amount of random access memory that is available to the system - which directly affects how many programs it can run at once. The CPU's clock speed tells you how many operations can run per second. The number of cores directly affects how many programs you can run concurrently (truly concurrently - different to threads, which is where a CPU splits the execution of programs using a time division).

If you find your RAM filling up with famous candidates like Photoshop or Google Chrome, then you may wish to upgrade that so you can run more at once. Upgrading your RAM also means that your OS won't need to free up the RAM that often, leading to smoother running of applications. If however your RAM can handle your workload but everything is too slow, then the CPU could use an upgrade. You should consult the service manual for your specific laptop to see what CPU's can fit and be supported - not all that fit may work. For example, there are a list of CPU FRU's for select Thinkpads (where the CPU is socketed) that tell you what CPUs can be installed.

It's impossible right now to tell you exactly what to upgrade, because of the vagueness of your question and no information about your workload, but you can do more research on what would make your experience better and upgrade accordingly.

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    Thanks, this was pretty educative. To be more specific: I typically use 3 browsers with sometimes twenty tabs open, each. Especially Firefox seems heavy. In the background I often run video conversions, using the programs Avidemux and VirtualDub. – GwenKillerby Feb 9 at 18:24
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    With this I would immediately recommend you increase the RAM. 1GB fills up for me with about 3 tabs of Chrome, on a pretty lightweight Linux distro. With more tabs open, and further memory required (video buffering) I would recommend you to increase the RAM. The CPU is also fairly old but it would be easier (and frankly more effective) to increase the RAM in your system. 4GB should be OK but do not exceed your laptops memory limit - there is only so much memory the CPU can support, especially one of its age. – QuickishFM Feb 9 at 18:27
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Depends.

In general, the problems one has to solve by using a computer, will grow over the years (...that is, require the manipulation of more data than today, e.g. larger images in digital photography, more chunky apps, and so on).

Assuming you are not doing real-time computations (like object detection in live camera images, or trajectory planning in robotics):

  • More CPU speed will only speed up computation,
  • more RAM will allow to apply your machine to more (=larger) problems.

If you are planning to extend the usable lifetime of your machine, and are willing to practice patience, go for more RAM. "Swapping to disk" is only a makeshift here and will in addition waste CPU cycles while simulating RAM.

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You have to identify what is limiting your machine regarding your use. To know it, when your PC seem tonbe slow, check with process manager if the CPU is full or the memory close to be and upgrade the limiting component (CPU or RAM) in function of your personal result.

  • "process manager"?? Do you mean the Windows Task Manager accessible via Ctri-Shift-Esc ?? Or, what do you mean? – GwenKillerby Feb 9 at 18:27
  • "Process manager" include windows task manager, but also all of his equivalent – redheness Feb 9 at 18:31
  • Then how do I "check with the process manager" ?? – GwenKillerby Feb 9 at 18:42
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    Watch your CPU and RAM usage with windows task manager, if ypur CPU is at 100%, then upgrade your CPU, if uour RAM is nearly full, add RAM to your machine – redheness Feb 9 at 19:05
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I wpuld argue that, if you need to choose, get more RAM. After HDD, RAM is typically the bottleneck that slows down most systems. As most modern systems are designed with an expectation of > 2 gigs of RAM, with 4 being anything entry level and 8 being typical, RAM will make a huge difference. (Even a typical low-mid range Cellphone. now sports 3 gigs of RAM).

With respect if CPU, the third CPU is only about twice the speed if the first one. (The second one listed is about 1.7 x as fast). A basic new entry level sysyem will typically be 3-5 times as fast as your current CPU, but will also include specific speedup functionality not available on a 9+ year old cpu - Im specifically thinking of graphics (video playback and rendering) and AES (encryption offload). For these reasons I conclude that neither chip will give the system the kind of speed boost you might think. Apps which are not CPU/GPU intensive will work anyway. Apps which are wont.

IMHO, unless you gave a specific use case, dont waste any money on that system - its well past its use-by date. Id honestly expect a midern mid-range cellphone to be more powerful. A chromebook or entry level $200 Windows laptop will provide better bang for buck, usable battery and better perfornance.

  • thanks, david. You still answered, i appreciate it . With respect, memory costs 25 euros, a new CPU, about 7,50 euros. Please tell me where to get this 15.6 inch, $200 laptop with 3 usb ports, a dvd burner, HDMI, 4GB memory and this type of CPU. And if you wanna give me $200, .... THANKS! – GwenKillerby Feb 9 at 22:47
  • Your response is not entirely fair and you put words in my mouth but here you go - amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B074T8F5D9/… - For the sake of clarity, I would not buy this. I wish you the best spending – davidgo Feb 10 at 0:44
  • Thank you, David. I didn't mean to be unfair, I am sorry you feel that way. Just to be clear: Did you advise me to spend $200? You should see my reaction in that light. People living on students allowances, don't always (try never) have $200 to waste, eeer spend (invest, of course!) on anything. So, to me you sound like Marie-Antoinette as in: Let them eat cake. But again, your advise to get more RAM rather than a new CPU is truly apreciated. – GwenKillerby Feb 20 at 11:08
  • Nowhere did I advise you to spend any money. I postulated that upgrading your existing system is, in the general case, not a good use of your (apparently very limited supply of) money. Replacing a 10 year old laptop is hardly equivalent to suggesting a luxury purchase. Please reread my last paragraph. – davidgo Feb 20 at 18:07
  • I am sorry that you are so upset, David! That's not right, not at all. No, you did not explicitely advise to spend money. You are completely correct. Your statements could never ever be interpreted in that way. Spending is $200 can be better than spending $50. It often is. – GwenKillerby Feb 20 at 20:06

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