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I have a rather old (from 2008) Acer Travelmate 5720G, a laptop equipped with a chassis that let me easily access almost all of its hardware components; it makes the option of upgrading them really viable. These are its main specs.

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After having substituted its HDD and its RAM, I'm now trying to find if it is worth changing its graphic card with a newer one too; currently it is equipped with an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2400 XT video card, which is not soldered to the motherboard but is connected to it with a MXM connection; more precisely, according to this article (and also by judging from the actual physical dimensions of the card), the laptop sports a MXM Type II connector.

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The main specs of the graphic card are as follow:

enter image description here

Summarizing the informations that I have collected right now, I know that

  • the graphic card is connected with a MXM-II standard
  • the interface is a PCI-E 1.1

When looking for another compatible card, obviously I should look for one that has these standards too; considering that I'd like a card with a memory size of at least 512 MB, possibly more, are there other things that I should considerate?
Some things that come into my mind are:

  • the power requirements (given the same interface standards, a card with more memory will consume more power?)
  • the cooling (a more powerful card will generate more heat?)
  • the compatibility with other hardware (how my current CPU and RAM will affect the new graphic card performance? In other words, is it pointless to substitute just the GPU without upgrading other hardware as well?)

If these are concrete issues, how can I determine if my laptop will be able to deal with these different requirements? Are there some other considerations that I should take into account when choosing a new GPU?

EDIT: As you can see, my current graphic card memory type is DDR2. Will GDDR3 ones be compatible too, or am I limited to DDR2 ones?

  • If you make this project work, please come back here and document what you did and if it worked. I am very intrigued with your project. (Please take pictures!) – Kristian Nov 12 '14 at 22:35
  • Match the thermal and power otherwise it won't work; – Ramhound Nov 12 '14 at 22:37
  • @Kristian I'll surely do that if I will succeed. Anyway I need those answers first ;) Plus, a thing that I haven't mentioned because is not a technical issue but a more personal consideration: the price. Since the laptop is a bit old, I expect that compatible graphic cards won't be brand new models as well, thus also be rather cheap; changing the GPU is more a fancy than a real need, to increase a bit the performance when using CAD and graphic programs and some games; I'm not willing to spend a lot of money on an aged machine, that still works perfectly anyway! :) – Sekhemty Nov 12 '14 at 22:47
  • @Ramhound do you have any suggestion on how to find out these requirements? These specs do not seem to appear on any hardware detection tool that I've used, both under Windows than Linux. Or maybe it's me, and I don't know where to look. – Sekhemty Nov 12 '14 at 22:50
  • Just for the record, "How should I" type questions generally have wider applications, and I tend to think they should stand. In addition, mxm-upgrade is a semi defunct, but really really good resource on things like this. They used to sell cards too, but the main value here is that, if I recall correctly, they have a compatibility list between cards and laptops. – Journeyman Geek Nov 13 '14 at 2:33
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In theory, any MXM 2 video card will work. As with their bigger cousins, PCIe, any card will work if it's compatible with the slot. The caveat of course is the voltages, but with the older cards they were designed to get all they need directly from the slot (unlike the power hungry monsters today that need direct feeding from the PSU).

The other consideration is the heatsink mount. Nvidia and ATI/AMD typically don't use the same orientations of their heatsinks or screw holes so you would likely limited to the AMD family. However, that all goes out the window with laptop cards and they use the same orientation. Compare the video card from a 5720 to the 5920, yours is the ati, the 5920 can come with an nvidia 1GB card.

If you want to experiment, there are plenty of cheap options on eBay to try just to see if a different card would work at all. Honestly, I wouldn't bother and go straight for the card you want to upgrade to.

To be absolutely sure, you would need to contact Acer support for the supported voltages in the MXM slot. You would also need to contact AMD/nVidia for the voltages required by the card you're investigating.

  • I would ask that if you saw fit to downvote an answer you should provide a comment as to why. There is nothing wrong with the content, and it is technically sound. I even pointed to a laptop in the same family as the OP to prove my point. I will amend my answer to include further advice on voltages and research resources. – Foosh Nov 13 '14 at 17:12
  • I don't see anything wrong with this answer. Upvoted to neutralize the downvote, and because the answer is pretty good anyway. – Raestloz Nov 26 '14 at 7:17
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What to consider? Make sure the new gpu will run in the presence of an existing video display chip. Sound strange? Well, here, this is from the supporting driver documentation for one gpu:

http://us.download.nvidia.com/Windows/344.60/344.60-win8-win7-notebook-release-notes.pdf

Some software drivers PREVENT gpu activation in the presence of a video display chip, ie. Intel 4600, even if the display chip is inactive so I strongly recommend reading documentation very closely prior to purchase of the hardware.

  • This doesn't seem to apply to my situation. My laptop already has a dedicated video card, not an integrated one. – Sekhemty Dec 1 '14 at 23:04

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