Friday, September 22, 2006

Dell E1705 LCD swap with Dell 9300

I received my Dell E1705 laptop and as I said in my previous post. One of the first things I wanted to do was to swap the LCD screens. Well I started out with confidence, but ended in a futile result. The whole ordeal lasted less than 15 minutes and left me devastated (well I really didn't need such a strong word just because it didn't work). Anyone who has experience in opening dell laptops already know all this but just a picture story goes here.

I opened the plastic covering and then the keyboard, its connection and the LCD controller connection.

Since the WiFi antenna resides inside the LCD display I also had to remove the connections from WiFi at the back of the laptop.

I proceeded with the same steps for my Dell 9300 laptop too, and swapped the displays. Now is the time to know the truth! After I switched on my E1705 with it's UXGA screen from my older 9300, I saw the screen go all white, then BIOS messages appeared as normal, no indication of any errors or anything. So I was glad the operation was successful, except of course for the screen going all white before booting up. But the screen kind of looked very dull as if the brigtness is set at minimum. I tweaked the LCD brightness in BIOS but to no avail. So I decided to give it the Dell Diagnostic tests. And there I found the problem. All the tests were successful except for the LCD controller test. The error message was "Error accessing the LCD inverter." Bad luck.

So I called up Dell and after 2 hours of explaining to 3 different departments they finally decided that the LCD cannot be swapped and more over they cannot send me a replacement for a different part. Basically I can excahnge for the exact same part. How unfortunate. The only way around this problem it seems, is to return the laptop and order a new one, with UXGA screen. And that is what I decided to do. I am returning this laptop for a full refund (free shipping and no restocking fee of course). And I ordered another E1705 with the correct LCD screen.

There is one more reason I cannot just swap the displays. Although the display from 9300 fits in E1705, the other way round is not easy. The E705 display has a small projection on one of its hinges and the platform it rests on (E1705) has an opening for the projection. But the 9300 does not have any such modifications, so I will have to file the projection. That will be too much hard work. So better off with a new laptop. Meanwhile I decided to do a quick 3DMark05 test. And got a score of 6200 something. Seems like the NVIDIA 7900 GS is almost twice as fast as the NVIDIA 6800!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Finally I will have Core 2 Duo

After waiting for a long time (from July 27th, till September 12th), I finally ordered a Dell E1705 with Core 2 Duo Merom processor (not to be confused with the older Core Duo Yonah processor)! It is such a happy feeling, to finally be able to use a dual core processor.

  • Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 processor running at 2.00 GHz, 4 MB Cache, 667 MHz FSB
  • 17" XGA+ (I will swap this display with my UXGA display from my Dell 9300)
  • 1 GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667 MHz
  • 256 MB NVIDIA GeForce Go 7900 GS
  • 80 GB 5400 RPM SATA hard drive
  • Rest of the usual stuff like CD/DVD, wireless, network card etc.
I ordered an XGA+ display because as soon as the laptop arrives I will exchange the UXGA from my Dell 9300 which the E1705 will replace ;-). I called Dell technical support to make sure that they can be swapped and the result was a positive reply. I have to live with the slower NVIDIA 7900 GS since the GTX card was not available for E1705. Other than that I am very happy with the configuration. I could not resist the temptation of buying another laptop. Initially I contemplated on waiting till the Santa Rosa platform is released, with its 800 MHz FSB, but I could not wait!

Once I receive the shipment I will post some pictures and benchmark reports (stock and overclocked of course). I heard a lot of good things about Core 2 Duo when compared to Core Duo. Many people get confused between the two processors. But Core 2 Duo is supposedly 20% faster than Core Duo running at the same clock frequency. But to me the important jump from Core Duo is the 64-bit technology. Core Duo is 32 bit processor and Core 2 Duo is 64 bit. Also VanderPool was missing from some of the Core Duo processors. But all Core 2 Duo processors have it. With higher FSB and several new features I would definetly expect Core 2 Duo to beat Core Duo. However my benchmarks will compare Pentium-M 2.00 GHz / 533 MHz FSB with Core 2 Duo 2.00 GHz / 667 MHZ FSB.

Anyway right after the benchmarks I will do what I usually do to all my laptops, format and reinstall Win XP, and install Gentoo. But this time I have some more plans. Thanks to the Virtualization Technology (VT, previously code named VanderPool) in Merom, I can run unmodified Windows from inside Linux. So the plan is to install Gentoo, Xgl and Xen. I can play windows games from Linux and since Xgl gives eye-candy like MacOSX, I can ask for nothing more. I think it will be quite an adventure to make use of NVIDIA acceleration in Windows using VT. But let's see. My Dell 9300 laptop will then become my Freevo media center and my older Dell 5160 which is currently the media center will become part of a cluster.

Intel's Core 2 Duo website shows the addition of the following features:
  • Intel® Wide Dynamic Execution, enabling delivery of more instructions per clock cycle to improve execution time and energy efficiency
  • Intel® Intelligent Power Capability, designed to deliver more energy-efficient performance and smarter battery performance in your laptop
  • Intel® Smart Memory Access, improving system performance by optimizing the use of the available data bandwidth
  • Intel® Advanced Smart Cache, providing a higher-performance, more efficient cache subsystem. Optimized for multi-core and dual-core processors
  • Intel® Advanced Digital Media Boost, accelerating a broad range of applications, including video, speech and image, photo processing, encryption, financial, engineering and scientific applications
Netburst is dead, and long live Core!

More soon...