Should I upgrade my Dell laptop's hard drive, RAM, and processor, or just replace it?

Nov 13, 2020
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I have a Dell Latitude E5500 that I've only had for 2 years...got it as a Refurb on Cyber Monday...I did not realize until recently that it's 13 years old. I hate to replace a laptop that still works, and it's not any cheaper to buy a 2-year-old laptop with the minimum specs I need, versus a brand new one, so....

This is what I want to do, and I would really appreciate some advise. I write music and I'd like to record at home, because COVID-19. I've read the minimum specs for a home studio, and what I need in a laptop is:

  1. 15" screen
  2. 1 TB or larger hard drive (preferably SSD)
  3. 4 GB or more of RAM (ideally 16-32 GB)
  4. 2.4Ghz quad-core processor power (i5, i7) or greater
  5. 64 bit Windows 10
  6. Optical drive (can be external if it has to be)
My laptop has a 15" screen, an optical drive, and Windows 10 64 bit is installed. So that leaves:

  1. 1 TB or larger hard drive (preferably SSD)
  2. 4 GB or more of RAM (ideally 16-32 GB)
  3. 2.4Ghz quad-core processor power (i5, i7) or greater
Obviously, I can buy a new hard drive, and I saw one on Newegg for a little under $50. I also saw a processor (not sure if it's compatible yet) on eBay for $20. So that leaves RAM.

I read that Dell Latitude E5500 maxes out at 4 GB RAM, however I also read that I can ignore that and go with the maximum RAM that the processor will allow. Right now, I can record music on my laptop, but ONLY if I reboot just before I do. Otherwise, I get an error that I don't have enough memory to record. I know that the laptop would speed up if I had a faster processor and an SSD hard drive.

My current processor is an Intel Core 2 Duo CPU T7250 2.00 GHz.
The RAM is DDR2 PC2-6400 (2X 2 GB total of 4 GB)
I only have 11.6 GB free on a 250 GB hard drive, I am constantly having to get rid of non-essential files to make room so the hard drive isn't completely full. 1 TB seems ideal because I don't even have all the software installed that I would need to record at home. Some individual virtual instruments take up multiple GB.

I'd appreciate it if anyone could recommend a combination of processor, hard drive, and RAM. I hope to keep this under $100, since I could replace the entire laptop for around $300.

Alternatively, I found a Dell Inspiron 15 3000 Laptop for $370:
Intel® Celeron® Processor 4205U (2MB Cache, 1.8 GHz)
Windows 10 Home 64-bit English
Intel® UHD Graphics 610
4 GB, 1 x 4 GB, DDR4, 2666 MHz
1 TB 5400 RPM 2.5-inch SATA Hard Drive

I don't know which option is really better in the longrun. The one I just mentioned does not really have the specs I need.

However, I think that it makes more sense to upgrade my existing laptop. I just saw the same make and model for $10 on Ebay, so if I do all these upgrades and then my motherboard fails or something, it's not going to cost much to just get another one and upgrade it with my new hard drive, RAM, and processor.

I would appreciate any advise! Thanks.

P.S. I know that many laptops have CPUs that are soldered in, however, I saw a YouTube video on replacing the processor in a Dell Latitude e5500, so I know it can be done on this particular laptop!
It's just held in by screws.

Also, I have a Phenom Black processor that might be compatible. I'm pretty sure it's quad core. I might even have compatible memory. I actually also have an HP 6730b laptop with no hard drive that I could upgrade instead, though I'd have to get Windows 10 for it.

I'd also welcome any recommendations for laptops under $300 that have the specs I'm looking for! Or under $200 for one used/refurb.
 
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Nov 13, 2020
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A 13 year old laptop? Replace it!
LOL, I would definitely replace it if I could afford a new laptop. I would not have spent so much money on this refurb if I had any idea how old it was, since I can now get a 2-year-old laptop for what I paid for this one 2 years ago when it was 11 years old.

When I look at refurbs with the specs I'm looking for, it costs the same as a brand new one. And brand new ones have mostly eliminated the optical drive, so I'd have to buy an external one. To afford the laptop, I'd have to use an external hard drive, which would hurt my portability.

I think upgrading is the way to go, if I can upgrade the RAM. Or, I can find another refurb or upgrade the HP I bought that has no hard drive or memory. It's a little newer: https://support.hp.com/us-en/document/c01532015
 

hang-the-9

Titan
Moderator
LOL, I would definitely replace it if I could afford a new laptop. I would not have spent so much money on this refurb if I had any idea how old it was, since I can now get a 2-year-old laptop for what I paid for this one 2 years ago when it was 11 years old.

When I look at refurbs with the specs I'm looking for, it costs the same as a brand new one. And brand new ones have mostly eliminated the optical drive, so I'd have to buy an external one. To afford the laptop, I'd have to use an external hard drive, which would hurt my portability.

I think upgrading is the way to go, if I can upgrade the RAM. Or, I can find another refurb or upgrade the HP I bought that has no hard drive or memory. It's a little newer: https://support.hp.com/us-en/document/c01532015
My favorite used laptops can be found for not much more than $100, Lenovo T420 or T430. Many can be found with solid state drives or can be upgraded easily due to how they are built. Just need to make sure you know what you are looking at and where you are buying it from. Used local places like craigslist of facebook marketplace are great, usually much cheaper and you can actually see the system in person to make sure it works.

I'm afraid to ask what you paid for that Core 2 Duo laptop LOL, but it can happen if someone does not know what they are looking at (say looking up the CPU inside the laptop to see how old it is or the laptop model number), if you just go by price you can end up with some expensive old junk.

If you posted this a week ago I would have had a Lenovo T470 laptop that sold on eBay for less than the Dell you were looking at that was much faster with more RAM.

Systems like these are good

https://boston.craigslist.org/gbs/sys/d/stoneham-lenovo-p50-440p-more-executive/7227845160.html

 
Nov 13, 2020
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Thanks for all your replies!

I did a lot of research yesterday into upgrading either of my existing 13-year-old laptops. While I could have limped by on the HP if I maxed all its specs out, I found a flash sale at ASUS. I ordered a Windows 10 laptop with an 8th Gen Intel Corei7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. This matches the specs recommended for a home recording studio earlier this year. Obviously, more RAM would have been better, as would a larger hard drive, but this essentially solves my problem! All the refurb laptops I found were at least close to $300 and I got this NEW laptop for $99! I would share the link to the flash sale but I'm not sure if it's allowed.
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
Mar 16, 2013
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Thanks for all your replies!

I did a lot of research yesterday into upgrading either of my existing 13-year-old laptops. While I could have limped by on the HP if I maxed all its specs out, I found a flash sale at ASUS. I ordered a Windows 10 laptop with an 8th Gen Intel Corei7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. This matches the specs recommended for a home recording studio earlier this year. Obviously, more RAM would have been better, as would a larger hard drive, but this essentially solves my problem! All the refurb laptops I found were at least close to $300 and I got this NEW laptop for $99! I would share the link to the flash sale but I'm not sure if it's allowed.
$99?
Yes please...share that link.
 

hang-the-9

Titan
Moderator
Thanks for all your replies!

I did a lot of research yesterday into upgrading either of my existing 13-year-old laptops. While I could have limped by on the HP if I maxed all its specs out, I found a flash sale at ASUS. I ordered a Windows 10 laptop with an 8th Gen Intel Corei7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. This matches the specs recommended for a home recording studio earlier this year. Obviously, more RAM would have been better, as would a larger hard drive, but this essentially solves my problem! All the refurb laptops I found were at least close to $300 and I got this NEW laptop for $99! I would share the link to the flash sale but I'm not sure if it's allowed.
That does not sound at all like a real price on a new laptop. Just the RAM and SSD for parts would cost about $100. You may have read the pricing wrong, maybe it was $99 a month for 6 months or something? Or it was off some scam site where your money is gone and you get nothing sent to you.

A laptop even used, with a pretty recent i7, 8gb RAM and 500gb ssd would be several hundred.
 
Nov 13, 2020
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$99?
Yes please...share that link.
I probably got scammed, actually. I ordered it from asusonlines.com after following a link to a flash sale on Asus laptops. Oops. They have yet to ship it. I'm probably going to get a shower cap in the mail in about a month. But I can't be sure it's a scam yet. The site is too new. I was an idiot and thought I was at asusonline.com. Now I will miss Black Friday sales while I wait for this one to probably never show up.
 

hang-the-9

Titan
Moderator
I probably got scammed, actually. I ordered it from asusonlines.com after following a link to a flash sale on Asus laptops. Oops. They have yet to ship it. I'm probably going to get a shower cap in the mail in about a month. But I can't be sure it's a scam yet. The site is too new. I was an idiot and thought I was at asusonline.com. Now I will miss Black Friday sales while I wait for this one to probably never show up.
That site is extremely suspect, the systems they have there are Chromebooks but higher end and the prices are too low even for used one. I suggest canceling the order and/or filing a claim with your credit card company. Look for used systems local to you, I just bought a nice ASUS Chromebook almost new for my daughter for $200 that was a $500 system. Make sure you know what you are looking at though, if you need to use Windows software don't get a Chromebook. You can find quite a few systems much faster than your old laptop for under $200 in good shape.
 

AdamG

Distinguished
Dec 21, 2013
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Upgrading an old dell is never a fun endeavor, they make most of their hardware proprietary so you can't use just any aftermarket hardware, but have to buy dell branded hardware instead which is always overpriced. Glad you decided otherwise, although sorry to hear about the scamerino. I've always thought about why newegg type sites don't have a market niche for building your own laptops, but I guess the manufacturing scene makes this not a viable market, and probably wouldn't hit like building desktop pcs would, as most custom builders aim for desktop PCs anyway.
 
Nov 13, 2020
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That site is extremely suspect, the systems they have there are Chromebooks but higher end and the prices are too low even for used one. I suggest canceling the order and/or filing a claim with your credit card company. Look for used systems local to you, I just bought a nice ASUS Chromebook almost new for my daughter for $200 that was a $500 system. Make sure you know what you are looking at though, if you need to use Windows software don't get a Chromebook. You can find quite a few systems much faster than your old laptop for under $200 in good shape.
I would not order a Chromebook because most of my software only works on Windows. I could only do a Chromebook with a Windows emulator. What I ordered was a Windows 10 PC. Asus Zenbook 13 UItra Slim Laptop with 8th gen Intel i7 processor, 8 GB RAM and 512 GB SSD. They just only have Chromebooks now. I tried to look at my My Account page today to see if my order was still listed as Processing and now I don't even see My Account on the website! I am definitely suspicious but I no longer have a way to cancel since I cannot get into My Account. Since they said 1-5 weeks for shipping I kind of have to wait until they either send me the laptop or until I don't get it for 6 weeks. I used to do Customer Service for a credit card company so I know what it takes to open a billing dispute, and I don't have the grounds yet. And maybe it'll come. If not, I'll go back to the drawing board and start shopping for a laptop with my specs:

Windows 10 64 bit
i7 or i5 processor
8 or 16 GB RAM
512 GB to 2 TB hard drive
preferably 15" screen
 

hang-the-9

Titan
Moderator
I would not order a Chromebook because most of my software only works on Windows. I could only do a Chromebook with a Windows emulator. What I ordered was a Windows 10 PC. Asus Zenbook 13 UItra Slim Laptop with 8th gen Intel i7 processor, 8 GB RAM and 512 GB SSD. They just only have Chromebooks now. I tried to look at my My Account page today to see if my order was still listed as Processing and now I don't even see My Account on the website! I am definitely suspicious but I no longer have a way to cancel since I cannot get into My Account. Since they said 1-5 weeks for shipping I kind of have to wait until they either send me the laptop or until I don't get it for 6 weeks. I used to do Customer Service for a credit card company so I know what it takes to open a billing dispute, and I don't have the grounds yet. And maybe it'll come. If not, I'll go back to the drawing board and start shopping for a laptop with my specs:

Windows 10 64 bit
i7 or i5 processor
8 or 16 GB RAM
512 GB to 2 TB hard drive
preferably 15" screen
You are not getting a laptop from that site, the fact you can't logon to the account and that they no longer have the other systems listed, plus the fact the prices are several times lower than they should be all equals a scam site. Don't try to get super bargains like this, they don't exist. A lot of people fall for fake video cards in a similar way, they see cards for $200 but some site has them for $100 so the inexperience people rush to buy it, then end up with a fake card that does not work. Buy from well known sites, eBay is OK for used things but still has some scammers. Easy to sort them out though since the products look odd and so are the prices.
 
Nov 13, 2020
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You are not getting a laptop from that site, the fact you can't logon to the account and that they no longer have the other systems listed, plus the fact the prices are several times lower than they should be all equals a scam site. Don't try to get super bargains like this, they don't exist. A lot of people fall for fake video cards in a similar way, they see cards for $200 but some site has them for $100 so the inexperience people rush to buy it, then end up with a fake card that does not work. Buy from well known sites, eBay is OK for used things but still has some scammers. Easy to sort them out though since the products look odd and so are the prices.
Yes, I messed up. It said that it was an early Black Friday flash sale and it was $175 cheaper than other sites, I believed it and asked a cyber security expert if it looked legit and looked at ripoff report and searched for the site name and "scam" and didn't find it. But I got fooled, anyway. I already opened a billing dispute because someone else I know also ordered from the site and we both had the same thing happen: we were given a UPS tracking number but the package was not what we ordered, was not delivered to our address, but to some other address in our zip code. A real, legit tracking number, stolen from elsewhere. This is only the second time I have ever been fooled, the first time was over a decade ago when I ordered a pair of shoes and was mailed a shower cap instead. I'm not an idiot, they just got more sophisticated and even a cyber security expert thought it was OK to order from the site. Anyone can be fooled, unfortunately, especially if they don't dig deep enough.
 
Nov 13, 2020
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Upgrading an old dell is never a fun endeavor, they make most of their hardware proprietary so you can't use just any aftermarket hardware, but have to buy dell branded hardware instead which is always overpriced. Glad you decided otherwise, although sorry to hear about the scamerino. I've always thought about why newegg type sites don't have a market niche for building your own laptops, but I guess the manufacturing scene makes this not a viable market, and probably wouldn't hit like building desktop pcs would, as most custom builders aim for desktop PCs anyway.
Thanks for letting me know. I already looked at what the max specs would be and upgrading this laptop isn't even really an option. I could only upgrade the hard drive to an SSD, there's no option for a faster processor or RAM.

Until a couple years ago, at least, Dell was still offering custom specs on laptops. Unfortunately, I no longer see this option on their site, or on any competitors that I remember used to build systems with custom specs.
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
Mar 16, 2013
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165,690
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Thanks for letting me know. I already looked at what the max specs would be and upgrading this laptop isn't even really an option. I could only upgrade the hard drive to an SSD, there's no option for a faster processor or RAM.

Until a couple years ago, at least, Dell was still offering custom specs on laptops. Unfortunately, I no longer see this option on their site, or on any competitors that I remember used to build systems with custom specs.
"Custom specs" from Dell does not necessarily mean "user upgradeable later".

The 'custom spec' simply means it comes off the assembly line in a different config.
 

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