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Many people know how to swap out their hard drives or install new memory in their desktops; you might even be able to build your own computer, but that is on the desktop platform. When it comes to notebook computers, people feel less at ease. Why is that?

It's because of the size you have to work with; everything is compacted into the size of a college text book. Another reason is that finding parts isn't as easy as for desktop counterparts. We will try to help all you nervous users with opening up your notebook computer and make upgrading it as easy as a desktop.
Before you crack open your computer, you need to figure out what is inside and what you want to upgrade. Compatibility is far worse for notebooks when compared to desktops. With desktops you can pretty much use any part you want and it will work, but with notebooks it's not that easy. It's better to first figure out what you have in it now, and what you wish to upgrade.

Upgrading the whole "guts" of a notebook is nearly impossible since each model differs in size and space. Some parts are going to be compatible across the board, but many will not. While it is best to buy directly from the manufacturer, this will more than likely result in a higher price tag than what you could buy at a third party web site.

Before You Begin


CPUs aren't as tricky as you may think. A notebook CPU is very similar to its desktop counterpart. Mobile CPUs tend to clock slower, use a lot less power and put out less heat. The only thing to really worry about is to make sure it is supported by the chipset, and that a BIOS is available for it.
If the manufacturer sells the same model notebook with a higher CPU, it will more than likely work without problems. I would like to point out one thing as you pick out your new CPU: Pentium 4 Mobile is not the same as the Pentium Mobile! This will certainly not work no matter what you try, so don't try it.

Finding mobile processors will be harder than finding desktop CPUs. You can check out your local computer store, online retail stores or even eBay. From my experience online and brick and mortar stores will charge you insane prices for a processor. The best place to check is eBay; stick with very reputable users. I have seen CPUs that sell in stores for $200 go for as little as $40.


Picking out memory is fairly easy. All you need to do is check to see whether you need DDR or DDR2, as you would for a desktop, right? Well, yes, except you're looking for SO-DIMM memory. Both DDR and DDR2 use SO-DIMM, so picking out the notebook from the desktop shouldn't be that hard. This memory is competitively priced at online stores such as Newegg.

Today we will take a look at the Gateway 6000 series. The specific notebook model we'll use for our demonstration is the 6020GZ. It contains 512 MB RAM and a Celeron CPU. While this is usable, it isn't going to be very fast, and our goal today is to speed this fellow up some.
An important step you should take first is to see if there are any BIOS updates for your computer. Check your manufacturer's site for details. If you are installing a new CPU, the update may be required for the BIOS to work with the new CPU. If you realize this after the upgrade, you will need to reinstall the old CPU, flash it, and then redo everything. While looking at the Gateway site, I noticed that they have provided a useful PDF of many upgrades for this computer with pictures. This how-to will go over some that aren't given in the document.The good thing about this computer is that it is very simple to get into. Other notebooks won't be so easy. I suggest reading the user's manual and any other documents on the manufacturer's site about the guts of the computer first.

Changing the Memory

The first thing you should do before touching your computer regardless of make of model is shut it down, unplug the power cord and remove the battery. Also, don't forget to ground yourself; one static shock to your computer could fry it beyond reasonable repair. Doing these few simple steps will make this upgrade successful and safe.Image nb

On my Dell Inspiron 6000, you need to practically take the whole computer apart to get to the guts of it. With the Gateway 6000 series, I only need to remove the bottom cover. There are a few screws that are holding the cover in place. Simply unscrewing them and removing the cover will expose the main parts of the computer. I have to give Gateway props for making this so easy. After you open it up you will see the big copper cooler and fan. To the right of these are the memory slots.

This one came with one 512 MB stick of memory, which left one slot unused. All you need to do is insert the other stick into the slot, make sure it is in, and then push it down until it pops or locks. This is fairly standard for all memory in most notebooks. Think of the pushing it down as using the clamps on a desktop board; it just helps to hold the memory in.

Changing the CPU

The next step is to pop a Pentium Mobile into this computer. First we need to remove the copper heatsink and fan. There are three screws holding it down. Unscrew these screws to access the CPU and graphics card. It is easier to unscrew all all at once as opposed to one at a time; it helps relieve the pressure from the components more slowly and evenly. It also helps you avoid putting force on a certain side of the cores, which may cause them to break.

After you remove the heatsink, unplug the fan wires from the motherboard. If you yank them out and break the fan power socket, it is going to be either a long night at your house or a costly trip to the repair store.
Popping the CPU out is fairly easy. You need a screwdriver and a little twist of the socket screw. This should allow the CPU to pop right up and be easily removed. Then it's an easy matter to pop the new CPU right in. After you have it in securely, the only thing left is to put it all back together. There is however one important thing you need to do first.

Reducing the Heat

This part will drastically reduce the heat problems many notebooks face. Conversely, this may also explain why your computer's fan might be on all the time or how loud it gets. Many manufacturers use some rather crappy thermal pastes. Gateway is no different.

I removed what they call thermal paste from the Intel chipset/GPU, which was some stick pad (I don't know how great it is, but it clearly wasn't helping any) and anything left on the copper cooler. I used some rubbing alcohol and a razor blade on the copper cooler. Be careful not to scratch up the bottom of the copper cooler. I used Arctic Silver, which can be found for roughly $5- $8 online. This is one of the better thermal pastes out there. I applied a small coat to both cores, and then put the cooler back on. Again, I was very careful to slowly tighten both screws so not to apply too much pressure on one side at a time.
After all is well, you should remove it again and take off the cooler. This time make sure that the copper cooler has the dark silver imprint of the cores on it. If not, you should reapply the thermal paste and make sure it is seated correctly, maximizing the surface area to which the heat is transferred. If it isn't making complete contact, you are going to be trying to cool the core with only ? of it being able to transfer heat. This is going to cause overheating or even kill the CPU!! When you're finished don't forget to plug the fan back into the motherboard. This is often forgotten and not good for the computer.

If everything is good at this point, you're basically done. You just have to put all the screws and covers back in. Make sure you don't have any thermal paste outside the cores. Also check to see that nothing is loose and that anything that doesn't belong is gone. After you've checked carefully, screw the cover back on. Now plug in the battery and power cord and you are ready to go!
I hope this little how-to has helped you understand that upgrading a notebook yourself isn't out to the question. While it will require more attention to detail, it is no different in principle than a desktop PC. As always take your time, be careful and it will turn out fine. Doing the few upgrades listed here has turned this run of the mill PC into a machine that is up to multitasking -- it runs cooler, too. If you have any questions or need help with any upgrades to your notebook, visit the Dev Hardware Forums where very knowledgeable members or myself can help you get your questions or problems answered.

DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.

source: www.devhardware.com

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