Dell XPS15 Surgery

So I got this Dell XPS15 laptop, and decided to bump up the specs a bit.  A quick visit to NewEgg and I received a new 1TB laptop drive, two RAM sticks, and a nice 120GB SSD drive; the latter was especially nice since I needed some serious space to host both Fedora Linux and Windows 7 on this.

Now, this XPS15 is a great little machine, but service friendly it is not! Whereas my old clunker laptop had nice access panels for memory, drive, and batteries, the XPS15 needs deep surgery to get at these things.

Fortunately, a service manual exists that details the steps (and detailed they are!).  First, to get at the gizzards you will need a mini Torx #T5 screwdriver.  This is of course not something the average Joe has lying around, fortunately there are a few places that sell these.

After the Torx screwdrivers arrived, I managed to pry the bottom off. Along the way, discovered a secret button on the bottom, hidden under the rubber sheet, that apparently exists to diagnose battery charge levels.You’ll find this button under the front-left corner.

Once the bottom was off, another surprise awaited: in order to get to the second DIMM slot, you will need to remove the motherboard! And the motherboard won’t come off without removing the fan, the processor heat-pipe, the battery, the hard drive, the SSD, and detaching the miniscule connectors that hold all this together.

If this were a car, it would be French!

At any rate, once I got this far, of course I was committed! So off the system fan came, and the heat-pipe came, and the battery, and the hard drive, and the SSD, and all the miniscule connectors.

Finally, the hidden DIMM slot revealed itself, and the RAM was put in.  Now the challenge was to put humpty-dumpty together again. Needless to say, I was escpecially concerned about reinstalling the processor heat-sink. Some solvent was brought into action to clean off the remaining heat-conducting compound, and a fresh dollop of silver heat paste was applied.

The remaining dominoes quickly fell into place, except for one mysteriously missing screw neat the middle of the case.

Typical!  Usually, I have parts left over 😉

After a few fretful moments, it dawned on me that one of the case screws for the bottom doubled as fastener for the motherboard itself! After a few more sweaty moments the bottom was back on, and the moment of truth was upon me.

Press the power button…. And it fired right up!

Moral of the story: modern hardware is not really designed for upgradability. So, unless you have nerves of steel, just buy a loaded version right of the bat and don’t bother upgrading it!

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.