Possible to upgrade video on a Dell Inspiron 9300?
May 1, 2009 6:54 PM   Subscribe

I have a 3 1/2 year old Dell Inspiron 9300 laptop. It's a 1.86Mhz Pentium Centrino with a 17" screen and on-board video. I'm still pretty happy with it overall. However, I was wondering if it is possible to add a discrete video card to it?

If so, what cards would I be able to choose from? I'd like to upgrade the video card because even editing a short video from my point and shoot camera is painfully slow. (btw, I'm confident I could do the labor myself. I've seen laptops taken apart, fixed, and reassembled before-including this one, by a warranty tech.) While I'm asking, let me also ask this: is it possible to upgrade the actual crappy monitor itself? I bought it with the cheapest monitor option (biggest regret) and the picture quality and dimness of the monitor are probably the worst things about the laptop. Thanks.
posted by atm to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
According to the dell support forums, your video card can be replaced with the nVidia GeForce 6800.

I can't help you with the monitor.
posted by billtron at 7:09 PM on May 1, 2009

Look, laptops are pretty cheap. You can get a new one, with a better screen and better video, for about $400, if you play your cards right. And that's just strolling into Best Buy and getting whatever they've got on sale. Upgrading these things is almost never worth it, as laptops really aren't made for it. A 17" screen might cost you a little more, but here's a Toshiba with a decent graphics card for $550.

I'm not even sure you can upgrade laptop monitors, short of buying a normal monitor and just plugging it in. And if you're going to spend $250-350 on a new graphics card, you're most of the way to a new machine anyways.

Get a new one.
posted by valkyryn at 7:46 PM on May 1, 2009

seriously, buy a new laptop, less work and not much more money. Dell has basic core 2 duo's for 500 bucks and dual cores for less than that.

if you're intent on upgrading the video card, they do have usb video cards (external) - why not go that route? And an external monitor if you want to improve that too?
posted by jak68 at 8:28 PM on May 1, 2009

Keep in mind that an upgraded video card is going to generate more heat. The 6800 that billtron links to may have been an option for your laptop at the time, but figure by now your cooling systems (fans, etc) have aged and the laptop in general has settled into a comfortable thermal expansion "habit" - introducing a hot car to the equation may hurt the laptop's reliability.

As for your LCD, that too can be upgraded along with the video. You just need to find out what optional screen upgrades were available along with corresponding part numbers.

eBay is a good source for such parts, but even then you're probably looking at a few hundred dollars. Another option is to buy a "for parts" laptop of the same model (with the upgraded video and LCD) and do a parts swap. It's risky, but you might get lucky.

Although it's not actually answering your question*, the posters above who suggest you buy a new laptop maybe on to something.

* I hate it, hate it, hate it, when you ask a question like, "I want to do X to Y..." and people respond by telling you, "Doing X to Y is dumb, what you should do is..." If you can't address the question guy, just skip it.
posted by wfrgms at 9:37 PM on May 1, 2009

A new video card will only speed up video editing if your editing app specifically supports GPU accelration. Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 is one such app. Getting a new laptop will give you a faster CPU, which probably matters more, and an even faster GPU than that GeForce 6800, which may still matter. So get a new laptop.
posted by zsazsa at 8:28 AM on May 2, 2009

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