I recently acquired my previous work laptop for free and as of now, I currently do not own a laptop other than my current work laptop which is a pretty basic Dell 15" (1366 x 768) notebook with Intel HD Graphics and a single 120 GB SSD. I've always treated my work laptop's as my own personal computers. I loved my M1730, but for my work use, it wasn't practical as it was designed as a gaming laptop and was a pain to lug around, wouldn't support two external monitors, didn't have a docking station, was limited to 4 GB Ram (as the time I had the laptop, to upgrade to 8 GB was over $300) among other things but for my own personal use it was great. I now have the M1730 in my passion and I'd like to upgrade it and would like your thoughts. Please keep in mind that I use my home desktop and current work laptop nearly all the time, so I'm not sure how much use this will get which is the reason I haven't forked out $1000+ for a decent notebook. However, I figured I could make this one a decent notebook to last me 3-5 years. It's in mint condition and has always been used in a corporate environment.
I have been doing some pricing on the parts I wish to obtain on eBay and the cost appears to be around $500ish, and for that price, I would have a much better laptop than the $500 wal-mart special and would be OK for my personal use.
Current Configuration: Dell XPS M1730 4 GB DDR2 Intel Core2 Duo T8100 17.3" 1920 X 1200 LCD 250 GB SATA HDD (with 2nd empty drive bay) Two nVidia GeForce 8700M's in SLI (256 MB Each, 512 MB Total)
Planned Upgrades: 8 GB DDR2 800 Mhz Memory Intel Core2 Duo Extreme X9000 (overclocked to 3.4 Ghz) Two nVidia GeForce 9800M's in SLI (1 GB Each, 2 GB Total) 1 TB Hybrid SATA HDD (I'll leave the 250 GB as a 2nd drive for storage/backup)
You haven't said what you plan on using this laptop for?
While I have never used the M1730 I would like to put in my 2 cents.
I think your only worth while upgrade is going to 8gb of ram.
The other upgrades are just a waste of money. This is a 7 year old laptop. No matter what you do it won't become a gaming laptop. Sure it still has life in it, office/web/playing movies. But not a modern gaming laptop.
I think you may also have power supply and overheating issues.
The CPU you selected uses 10 watts more than the old one (45w vs 35w). The 9800M uses 30 watts more then the 8700M (58w vs 27w). (These are peak power draws).
Adding an additional internal hard drive will add 3 or 4 watt's as well.
So in total your hardware upgrades will add 70watts+ peak more then what the system was shipped with. Even if the power supplies can keep up I suspect overheating will be an issue.
"Please keep in mind that I use my home desktop and current work laptop nearly all the time, so I'm not sure how much use this will get which is the reason I haven't forked out $1000+ for a decent notebook."
Since you have a desktop and a work laptop, combined with the age of the machine, I would agree that i don't see the point in spending money upgrading it. It is presently a good machine for many uses but the uses it wouldn't be great with are not likely to be resolved by the replacements you are considering. I would just use it as is. Is there a specific application with which you aren't satisfied? If you are memory limited then adding ram will help, but that isn't clear yet. An ssd or hybrid drive may make the machine feel more responsive but, again, that depends on what your complaint is about the machine as it is.
So I did find a video of someone doing the 9800 upgrade, so it looks like there will be enough power. Still not really worth it. While there will be a performance upgrade from the 8700 SLI it won't be that significant when you then compare it increase to say a 760m
Thanks for your reply and suggestions. At this time, I am not sure what my use of the laptop would be for. Between my current work laptop and my home desktop, I've never saw a need for my own personal laptop which is why I haven't owned one in recent years. However, I would like a laptop I could do some basic gaming on as my current work laptop is very limited on space (120 GB SSD) and has terrible graphics (Intel HD 3000) plus the screen is very low resolution and has terrible contrast, etc. It's great for my work tasks, internet use, etc but for any type of gaming, it's terrible. The only game I've played on it is minecraft and even that game stresses the laptop.
I'm looking to use the M1730 for general internet use, movies, and gaming. I understand a 760m is light years better than the 9800's, let alone the 8700's, but a 760m laptop would cost me over $1000 easily. That's comparing apples to oranges. I wouldn't be playing modern games expecting to get the same performance as a 760m. I would simply play the best games I could with a 9800 and I feel that I could play more games with a 9800 than I would with a 8700. Regardless, gaming on the M1730 would be light years better than my current work laptop due to the screen, graphics card, and hard drive space.
I don't use a laptop enough to warrant buying one, so this laptop would be used for another 3-5 years until I run across something better for $300 - $500. As of now, I couldn't buy a better laptop than this for $300 - $500.
That's my whole point to this, even if I spend $500 on upgrading this laptop, it would still be better than any brand new laptop for $500. I don't think a $500 laptop would buy me a 17" 1080P Screen with graphics better than the graphics on the M1730, nor would it have 8 GB of memory. If I could find a $500 laptop like that, then by all means I wouldn't touch this one.
What I would do is use it as is and see what you really need as time progresses. You may find that it plays games you want to play decently the way it is. You may also find that you don't really use the machine much at all, especially if your desktop is reasonably capable of gaming. If you ever run into a specific problem, with a particular game, then you could look into whether the upgrades you are considering would solve the problem for you. As you don't seem to be too sure how you will use it at present I wouldn't spend the money you are considering until you have more definite performance complaints, are sure you are going to use the machine enough to justify the money, and are sure that the upgrades will solve the specific performance problems that crop up.
Thanks. As suggested, I will leave as-is for now and review my usage in the coming months to decide. It's actually temping to just get a more modern laptop (thinner/lighter, HDMI output, USB 3.0, DDR3, etc) than dumping money into this 7 year old rig just to have it fail due to age related issues (such as backlight failure, power supply failure, motherboard failure, etc) In the long run, seems I might be better off just spending a little more money and investing in a newer laptop instead and keeping it for 5+ years, or just sticking with my current work laptop/desktop combo.
As a side note, my current desktop is a pretty high-end gaming system, which has an AMD FX-8350 (8 Core, 4.2 Ghz) with 12 GB Ram and Two R9's in CrossFire. So, I wouldn't be doing any type of high end gaming on any laptop I get, just wanted something a bit better than the Intel HD Graphics.