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jlandwehr61
1 Nickel

D520 Laptop Questions

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I just bought a used D520 Laptop with 512 MB RAM in it (2x256) and have a couple questions.

1. Is it necessary to "match" the memory pairs? It looks like the B Dimm should be an easy do, so I'm thinking I'd just add a 1 GB dimm there and call it done. Can I do that, or do I need to match the A DIMM too? (Disassembling the top A DIMM looks much hairier, hence my reluctance.)

2. I'm thinking about running a Dell PC Restore (SHift + F11) to wipe the thing out of all of it's previous owner's junk. Is this a recommended process? Is there a better way? (I have the OS Disk)

3. If I do #2, will the MS Office 2007 come back with the OS? (It's hard to tell whether MS Office was shipped with it or whether it was added later. Is there a way to find out?

Thanks much,

Jim

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jackshack
5 Tungsten

Re: D520 Laptop Questions

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1.  Dell doesn't mention the need for matched memory modules, or a dual channel configuration in the on-line guides for the D520.  The Intel specs for the 945 GM chipset, however, say that it is dual channel capable.  I have no way of knowing if Dell decided to simply not mention dual channel because the second memory socket is so difficult to reach, or if they decided to forego the capability, possibly for the same reason.  Even if the laptop is dual channel configurable, however, the increase in memory speed would not be more than about 20%, and this does not translate directly to observable performance.  There are a lot of other things that affect the performance of a computer that tend to overshadow one particular characteristic.  The decision to give it a try is obviously yours to make, but I don't think it would be worth all the hassle if the computer were mine.

2.  If you have PC Restore this is probably the most expedient method of resetting the laptop.  Dell does not normally put this capability into a business laptop, however.  Are you sure you have it?  One way to tell is to restart the computer and watch POST.  Computers that have the PC Restore feature will display a blue bar at the top of the screen immediately following completion of POST, followed by a message to the effect that it is loading the descriptor for PBR2.  If you don't see that, you don't have the special Dell Master Boot Record that is required to activate the feature.  Another way you might tell is to use Disk Management to examine the drive.  Computers equipped with PC Restore have at least three partitions; these are normally a 32 MB FAT16 formatted partition for the Dell Utilities, a considerable larger multi-GB NTFS partition for Windows XP, and a partition of about 3 GB to 5 GB for the PC Restore image.  This last partition will not show up in Windows Explorer or in My Computer since it has a special partition type.  If you find one of these you might be able to make it work again with some work.

3.  If you have PC Restore, and I will be surprised if you do, anything that Dell originally installed on the computer at the factory will be refreshed on the "C:" partition.  Otherwise you will need a set of CDs, something that should have been included with the machine as OEM software is considered a part of the hardware.  If you don't have the CDs along with the COA that is normally provided with the packaging, don't count on being able to retrieve Office 2007 if you reformat the hard drive.

 

Dell Forum member since 2005

jackshack
5 Tungsten

Re: D520 Laptop Questions

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You are very welcome.

With regard to the user name, that is buried in the Windows registry, and regrettably I can't remember precisely where.  You might be able to find it using a search in Regedit, but unless you are comfortable doing such things I wouldn't recommend it.

With regard to a re-installation of the OS, if the computer is running well presently (and you can accept changing your name) I would leave it alone.  I am a charter member of the "if it's not broken, don't fix it" club.  Installation of the OS is best done using the clean install approach.  Anything else leaves remnants of the old registry and any files that are not overwritten during the installation process, leaving you the seeds of future problems.  Installing the OS will be something of a learning process and you will naturally require the CD set for any applications you want to use on the machine, so save this action for a time you are in the mood to learn or the state of the computer forces it upon you.

I'm afraid I haven't had to buy much in the way of RAM for laptops.  Many of the long time members of the community like Crucial, basically because the company is known for good quality and will guarantee operation of any memory they sell so long as you use their memory "configurator" to select it.  I've had good fortune with Kingston for desktop machines, and I know that Samsung memory is often used in Dell machines.  You may be able to find memory listed at lower prices, but be careful.  If it turns out to be incompatible you may wind up negotiating for authorization to return it.

I wish you the best of luck!

Dell Forum member since 2005

3 Replies
jackshack
5 Tungsten

Re: D520 Laptop Questions

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1.  Dell doesn't mention the need for matched memory modules, or a dual channel configuration in the on-line guides for the D520.  The Intel specs for the 945 GM chipset, however, say that it is dual channel capable.  I have no way of knowing if Dell decided to simply not mention dual channel because the second memory socket is so difficult to reach, or if they decided to forego the capability, possibly for the same reason.  Even if the laptop is dual channel configurable, however, the increase in memory speed would not be more than about 20%, and this does not translate directly to observable performance.  There are a lot of other things that affect the performance of a computer that tend to overshadow one particular characteristic.  The decision to give it a try is obviously yours to make, but I don't think it would be worth all the hassle if the computer were mine.

2.  If you have PC Restore this is probably the most expedient method of resetting the laptop.  Dell does not normally put this capability into a business laptop, however.  Are you sure you have it?  One way to tell is to restart the computer and watch POST.  Computers that have the PC Restore feature will display a blue bar at the top of the screen immediately following completion of POST, followed by a message to the effect that it is loading the descriptor for PBR2.  If you don't see that, you don't have the special Dell Master Boot Record that is required to activate the feature.  Another way you might tell is to use Disk Management to examine the drive.  Computers equipped with PC Restore have at least three partitions; these are normally a 32 MB FAT16 formatted partition for the Dell Utilities, a considerable larger multi-GB NTFS partition for Windows XP, and a partition of about 3 GB to 5 GB for the PC Restore image.  This last partition will not show up in Windows Explorer or in My Computer since it has a special partition type.  If you find one of these you might be able to make it work again with some work.

3.  If you have PC Restore, and I will be surprised if you do, anything that Dell originally installed on the computer at the factory will be refreshed on the "C:" partition.  Otherwise you will need a set of CDs, something that should have been included with the machine as OEM software is considered a part of the hardware.  If you don't have the CDs along with the COA that is normally provided with the packaging, don't count on being able to retrieve Office 2007 if you reformat the hard drive.

 

Dell Forum member since 2005

jlandwehr61
1 Nickel

Re: D520 Laptop Questions

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JackShack,

Thanks for the post. Some great information. Since the thing is running decently, I'll likely leave the RAM where it is for now, esp if it's not going to be a significant gain. Regarding the PC Restore, I'd seen that mentioned elsewhere, that it doesn't come with business class laptops. I guess I didn't know that the D520's were such. I did notice that the MS Office mentioned it was "Enterprise Edition" which seems to hint at Business Class.

I was able to get Dell to send an OS disk for the machine (after signing a change of ownership form). If it starts getting flaky, I'll use that restore as my fallback, unless you think a complete wipe is necessary. The previous owners name is "Dave" and I'm not sure how to rid the machine of Dave. Changing the Documents and Settings folder name wasn't permitted. At this point, I think it would be easier to change MY name to Dave.

In the event that I do want to upgrade the RAM, any recommendations on where to get good RAM, cheap?

Thanks again for your help.

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jackshack
5 Tungsten

Re: D520 Laptop Questions

Jump to solution

You are very welcome.

With regard to the user name, that is buried in the Windows registry, and regrettably I can't remember precisely where.  You might be able to find it using a search in Regedit, but unless you are comfortable doing such things I wouldn't recommend it.

With regard to a re-installation of the OS, if the computer is running well presently (and you can accept changing your name) I would leave it alone.  I am a charter member of the "if it's not broken, don't fix it" club.  Installation of the OS is best done using the clean install approach.  Anything else leaves remnants of the old registry and any files that are not overwritten during the installation process, leaving you the seeds of future problems.  Installing the OS will be something of a learning process and you will naturally require the CD set for any applications you want to use on the machine, so save this action for a time you are in the mood to learn or the state of the computer forces it upon you.

I'm afraid I haven't had to buy much in the way of RAM for laptops.  Many of the long time members of the community like Crucial, basically because the company is known for good quality and will guarantee operation of any memory they sell so long as you use their memory "configurator" to select it.  I've had good fortune with Kingston for desktop machines, and I know that Samsung memory is often used in Dell machines.  You may be able to find memory listed at lower prices, but be careful.  If it turns out to be incompatible you may wind up negotiating for authorization to return it.

I wish you the best of luck!

Dell Forum member since 2005