I have a 3+ years old Pavillon dv6 1080el. It's aging fairly well, except for the battery, the palm rests and the nVidia 9200M GS graphic card, which is barely adequate for running any game at the lowest settings or sometimes even below that. I'm really tired of having poor fps at the lowest settings (or below!) with games from five goddamn years ago.

The CPU is beefy. The disk is mostly holding up. The battery could simply be replaced. The palm rest... eh, it's not pretty to look at but that's a fairly minor problem. The graphic card though is really starting to weight down on the system as a whole and pushing me towards getting a replacement machine early. Now would be a terrible time to do so, merely months before Windows 8 is released and every computer and their dog starts coming out with touchscreens. I need to squeeze roughly another year out of this thing.

Is there really no hope in upgrading the GPU of a now out-of-warranty laptop? What do I need to watch out for? Should I just hand it off to some computer shop to figure it out by themselves, or can I get a bit more active in the process?

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    There's the possibility of using a express card based PCI-e inteface you can plug in a regular card into, but that costs more than a new system. – Journeyman Geek Mar 7 '12 at 11:58
  • All the more reason to buy a desktop. – surfasb Mar 7 '12 at 19:34

There's really no hope. There's no place to put a better video card (the existing one is integrated into the motherboard). There's nothing to connect it to (no way to get to a high speed bus or to the video to the panel). There's no way to get power to it as the laptop's power system wasn't designed for that. And there's no way to remove the heat it would generate.

Perhaps with sufficient cleverness, you could get around one or two of these problems. But there are four of them, so basically there's really no hope.

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  • There are, in fact, laptops where this is possible. They use the standard PCIE connection but the shape of the graphics card is still propritary and you can't get those cards everywhere... – sinni800 Mar 7 '12 at 11:50
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    @sinni800: I should have made clear that my answer was specific to his laptop (but applies to most low-end and mid-range consumer laptops as well). – David Schwartz Mar 7 '12 at 11:50
  • Yeah, I know. It was only some additional information that this is indeed possible, but not with this laptop. I was just trying to add on it :) – sinni800 Mar 7 '12 at 11:51

If there was a model of that same laptop that had a more suitable graphics chip (it's almost certainly not a card), you might be able to get a spare motherboard from that model and swap.

Or find an upgrade path to another laptop (same or different type, but with a GPU you approve), buy a barebones one, and move your good components that work over to it. Sadly, that may still mean only the HDD will go, maybe RAM, WLAN is a tricky install and CPU often isn't socketed. Battery only if you stuck to the model/line. Unless it's a Thinkpad, you probably couldn't get one without a display or keyboard either.

In other words, laptops are mostly black boxes with very few parts you can affect inside. The GPU is probably the most tightly coupled of those parts, too.

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  • Actually i do seem to think that HPs may have socketed CPUs - thinkpads seem to, least on the one i took apart, and someone i know took apart and replaced the CPU on a HP tablet. – Journeyman Geek Mar 7 '12 at 12:16

If you have a lot of money to spare, theres always external graphics http://www.techradar.com/news/computing-components/graphics-cards/how-to-make-an-external-laptop-graphics-adaptor-915616 this could work for your laptop providing you have enough money to spare, hope this helps

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