Vostro 1400

A week ago the Intel turbo memory module arrived, the last component that needed the keyboard to be removed in order to install. My Vostro 1400 came more or less stock with the following specs:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo T5270 (1.4Ghz, runs at 1.6Ghz according to CPUz and is related to the L7300) (A X9000 is on it’s way :D)
  • 2GiB DDR2-667 RAM running in Dual Channel mode (PQI brand)
  • 160GB 5400RPM Segate SATA Hard Drive
  • Dell wireless 802.11g (model DW1390) (Replaced with Intel WiFi Link 802.11abgn)
  • 56Wh Li-ion battery (up to 6hrs according to Dell)
  • Intel Robinson Turbo Memory 1GiB (Added)
  • Dell Bluetooth 2.1 (model 360) (Added)
  • 14 inch wide screen display (1280×800)
  • Intel Media Accelerator X3100 graphics

After a little over a week with this laptop, I must say Dell put together a very nice machine. When I first received it I powered it up to make sure it worked, and to see how well Dell’s wireless card worked. It wasn’t able to find my wireless network, but it found every neighbor’s network, unfortunately no one keeps their networks open anymore. Replacing the wireless card requires getting behind the keyboard, on the two Compaqs that I’ve taken apart before that required unscrewing some things on the bottom of the computer, and nothing was detailed in the user manual. Not only did the manual lay out exactly what needed to be done, two nice little green plastic tools were provided for aiding in removing the media panel. Good thing they were provided as the media panel is fairly secured and required patience in removing.

Replacing the CPU should be easy as the CPU and cooler assembly has it’s own lid, as does the hard drive and the memory. Installing the blue tooth radio was easy as everything else had been. Installing the drivers was painless, Vista did everything for me. The same was true for the Intel cards, just had to insert the Intel CD when prompted, and everything “just worked” (sounds Macish doesn’t it?). This is even on Home Basic, a version that ran slower than molasses at 5am Wednesday morning this week (It was -15 degrees Fahrenheit) on a Pentium D 2.8Ghz with dedicated graphics and 2GiB of ram.

Dell with its Vostro line, as well as with the XPS line, does not install crapware. Though I did uninstall some of the preinstalled software, Google Desktop (I don’t bother searching for things in Windows), as well as some unneeded Dell software (I’m looking at you software modem driver) I really wouldn’t count those programs as crapware (compare to what a Toshiba comes with). Vista, really is not that bad. I do not like the constant “Are you sure you want to run this” prompts, but beyond that things are very responsive, I think I’ll give Intel the credit here for their Core 2 Duo being so awesome of a chip.

I have a Western Digital Scorpio 120GB (8MiB cache) that I’ll install Gentoo onto and run KDE 4 on it as the desktop manager. This hasn’t happened yet as I’m primarily waiting to do this until spring break in March. Additionally, due to the nature of Gentoo, its advantageous for me to wait for my X9000 to arrive as it is twice as fast in clock speed alone which will really help for compile times.

Speaking of CPUs I should go a little in depth on my findings on the 1.4Ghz chip in this laptop. Even though it reports to Vista and CPU-Z as a T5270 it constantly runs out of spec for that processor. It seems to like to run with a 8.0x multiplier on a 800Mhz FSB, resulting in a speed of 1.6Ghz. Added to that, the reported CPU VID of 1.013V, which is under the 1.0375-1.3V range that it is supposed to operate under. Additionall, CPU-Z gets a bit confused as the top CPU name is claims the CPU is a L7300 (which would explain the lower voltage, but not the constant overclock). Even when running two CPU Burn-in processes, the temperature didn’t get over 30C and once the fan kicked in a bit, still nearly silent, the temp dropped to 22C. I’m going to do more tests on the processor and post results sometime during spring break. With comparisons to the X9000, it should be interesting.

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]