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Inspiron E1505/6400 hardware upgrade compatibility

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I apologize in advance for the length of this post... I suspect that may immediately turn off some people.  Forgive me, but I tried to include all the relevant info I could.

 

I have an Inspiron E1505 (aka 6400) running SL (10.6.8) and I'm investigating various hardware upgrades.  I probably won't do ALL of these, but I'd like to know if there are any OS X compatibility issues with any of the proposed hardware upgrades before I start spending money.

 

I'd also appreciate any "performance" related responses, ie "not worth it" or "definitely worth it" or hardware compatibility issues, ie "you can't put that CPU in an E1505"... unless of course those go outside the scope of this forum.

My goal with these upgrades is obviously to increase performance, but also just to get some experience swapping out various bits of hardware and making them work with SL.  So... borderline "performance" improvements may be worthwhile from a "just for the experience" point of view... depending on the upgrade cost that is. :-)

 

My current configuration (as best I've be able to determine) is:

  • Model: Dell Inspiron E1505
  • System: MM061 (not exactly sure what this is)
  • BIOS: A17
  • Chipset: Intel 945GM (FSB: 533MHz/677MHz)
  • Motherboard: MD666
  • CPU: Intel T2050 (1.6GHz/2M/533MHz)
  • Memory: 2GB (2 x 1GB) DDR2 800MHz (PC2-6400) SDRAM SO-DIMM 200 pin non-ECC
  • Video: Intel GMA 950 (integrated)
  • Display: WXGA
  • Wireless: WLAN (Dell) 3900 802.11/b/g
  • Hard Drive: 120GB Seagate Momentus 7200.2 (ST9120823AS)

NOTE: I'm not exactly sure what the "MM061" is referring to.  It's displayed on the boot screen just above the BIOS revision and I've seen it in relation to the BIOS itself (not the BIOS revision) and the model number and maybe a few other things.  I suppose the model number makes the most sense.

 

My optimal configuration (again, best I can figure) would be:

  • ...
  • Motherboard: YD612 (required for video upgrade - includes PCIe slot)
  • CPU: Intel T7600 (2.3GHz/4M/667MHz)
  • Memory: 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR2 667MHz (PC2-5300) SDRAM SO-DIMM 200 pin non-ECC
  • Video: ATI Radeon X1400
  • Display: WSXGA+
  • Wireless: Atheros AR5B91 802.11/b/g/n
  • Hard Drive: some SSD 80-120GB

I think my rough order/importance of the upgrades would be:

  1. wireless (cheap network performance increase)
  2. CPU (faster and 64-bit)
  3. memory (seems like it should help)
  4. motherboard/video (better video processing)
  5. display (increased resolution)
  6. SSD hard-drive

Wireless - Based on one of the threads in the R&D forum it looks like the Atheros AR5BXB112 and Dell DW1505 would also work OOTB with SL.  I listed the Atheros AR5B91 because I assumed it would have the same/similar 802.11n performance but wouldn't cost as much (I haven't priced any of them yet).  If that's an invalid assumption, please let me know.

For reference, my current wireless router is a "D-Link 655 Xtreme N Gigabit" and a "Hawking 300N Ranger Extender (HWREN1)" which helps on one side of the house.  I don't plan to replace either of those any time soon,
so whichever wireless card works best from a compatibility/price/performance point of view is probably how I'd like to go.

 

CPU - Apart from the performance increase I assume I'd see by going from a T2050 to a T7600, I'm hoping I'd be able to run 64-bit SL.   I've run into some software packages that only provide 64-bit versions, so I was hoping the T7600 would solve that issue.  If there's some reason I won't be able to run 64-bit SL with the T7600 please let me know.

 

Memory - I'm assuming there's no point in going to PC2-6400 (800MHz) memory since the FSB for the Intel 945GM only supports up to 667MHz.  Also, I'm assuming with the T7600 cpu @ 667MHz, it would be optimal to have the memory match that?

 

Also, the E1505/6400 doesn't "officially" support 4G of memory, but I've seen several references to people saying it works although you may only be able to see 3.2G.   I'm not sure if the 3.2G limit is hard or depends on the chipset and/or CPU and/or OS being used.  Most of the discussions I saw related to Windows.  If anyone can clarify what I should expect with the Intel GMA 945 chipset and T7600 (64-bit) CPU and SL, I'd appreciate it.

Video Card - From what I understand, in order to upgrade the video, I would need to replace the motherboard with one that includes a PCIe slot (YD612).  Assuming I did that, I have 3 options: the ATI x1300, the ATI x1400 or the NVIDIA GeForce Go 7300.  From what I've read, the ATI x1400 is better then the NVIDIA even though the NVIDIA was originally a more expensive add-on.

Hard Drive - The SSD drive may be one of the better upgrades from a performance point of view, but from an "experience" and cost point of view it's pretty low (ie, easy to do and costs a lot).   I haven't really looked that much at SSD drives, so I may find I can get one cheaper then I thought.

As mentioned at the top... my primary goal in posting this on the OSXLatitude site is to verify OS X compatibility.   But I'd appreciate corrections to any assumptions I've made about hardware compatibility and/or performance expectations.

 

Thanks for any help.

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well if looking to go with 64 bit you need to research the graphics for 64 bit compatability with osx.

Thanks, but I'm not quite sure I follow. Are you saying if I get a T7600 CPU (in order to run 64-bit SL), I may have a problem with the integrated (Intel GMA 950) graphics? Is it not able to run in 64-bit mode?

 

If the graphics only runs in 32-bit mode is that still an option? ie, the os is in 64-bit mode, but the graphics is still running in 32-bit mode?

 

Is the same true for the ATI Radeon X1400?

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I may have a problem with the integrated (Intel GMA 950) graphics? Is it not able to run in 64-bit mode?

answer is no apple did not continue support for it. only in 10.6.2 did it have 64 bit but it did not work properly and apple abandoned it.

as for the x1400 it also might be 32 bit. but that one i don't know of the top of my head.

 

snow leopard and lion do support 32 bit though.

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I may have a problem with the integrated (Intel GMA 950) graphics? Is it not able to run in 64-bit mode?

answer is no apple did not continue support for it. only in 10.6.2 did it have 64 bit but it did not work properly and apple abandoned it.

as for the x1400 it also might be 32 bit. but that one i don't know of the top of my head.

 

snow leopard and lion do support 32 bit though.

 

Thanks for the info.

 

A bit after posting my last question I found a article about support for 64-bit GMA 950 in 10.6.2... and also how it didn't work very well... basically just what you confirmed.   Sort of took the wind out of the sails for this project.   Probably not worth the cost/hassle for a T7600 cpu and/or 4GB memory if I can't use a 64-bit os.

 

I did get a very cheap Atheros AR5B91 card on ebay for about $4... figured for that price I couldn't really lose.

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