Thursday 19 November 2020

Revitalising a Dell Latitude E6500 with an SSD

I have been playing about with a Lenovo ThinkPad W500 I was given awhile back, but I'm tired of it suddenly deciding to use the dead ATI graphics card every now and then. It's a real faff to get it going again and I really wanted a reliable Linux laptop to hand. I was going to put an SSD in it, but decided my Dell Latitude E6500 would be a better place for it, it's much more reliable, and I actually prefer the keyboard on the Dell. I have had it for a long time, but it has been set aside as a spare laptop for ages since I tend to use my Acer Chromebook 14 for general browsing the net while sat on the sofa. Sometimes there's one or two things that are not easily done on a Chromebook, so it will come in handy to have the Dell to hand. It has a P8600 (2.4Ghz) Core 2 Duo CPU, 4GB DDR2 RAM, Intel GM45 graphics and came with a 120GB hard drive.

I received a Kingston SSDNow A400 240GB SATA 3 Solid State Drive for my birthday and decided to put that in the Dell to pep it up a bit, particularly to make it boot faster. It's also actually twice the size of the Seagate Momentus 5400RPM hard drive that was in it, which I think was probably the drive it came with from new. I would like to up the RAM to the maximum 8GB but it would cost £30 for 2x 4GB sticks of DDR2. It's a shame it's DDR2 as if it was DDR3 I could've taken the RAM from the Thinkpad, and a DVD writer would be nice in it to replace the combi drive...but I digress...


On the first try, the rear set of mounting screws would not go in, but the drive fitted in. However on boot, it was not detected by the Latitude. So I popped it out and put it back in without the front cover and it went right in. The rear screws went in fine but the front ones did not... 

After some Googling and head scratching, I discovered that since the SSD is thinner, you need put a shim under the drive to make the connectors and screw holes meet inside. I cut and folded some of the thick card from the packaging and used that. The drive now fit snugly and the outer cover is on. Sorted!

I used to run Kubuntu on the Latitude but these days I prefer KDE Neon, as it has a much newer version of KDE, which is much more usable. After a quick fresh install on the SSD, I rebooted and found the boot time is much quicker than before and the desktop is very snappy. It boots in around 15 seconds and shuts down in 4 seconds. Boot time with its original old hard drive was a lot longer! 

All i needed to do then was install all my favourite apps and tweak the desktop to my liking. Desktop apps like Chrome start quicker too. It's a night and day difference in performance! I am really glad I upgraded the Latitude to an SSD and I'd like to upgrade some of my other laptops too. The old hard drive will go on the spares pile. Adding an SSD really is a great way to bring these old laptops a new lease of life. Next in line for the SSD treatment might be my old white Macbook...

Further reading:

01/07/2020 - Resurrecting My Lenovo ThinkPad W500

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