Instructables

Acer Extensa Laptop 5620 Hotrod Overhaul Guide

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Our little Acer Extensa 5620 has been good to us these past two years, huh? It's a nice enough machine... but... you're feeling it too, right? Running a bit slow, hard drive making some noise, the battery lasts less than twenty minutes... is it time to finally cast our lowly Acer aside and buy new?

NAY! For less than the cost of a new laptop, we can make our current one shine again! Come with me as we do both routine and very non-standard upgrades to pimp out the budget Best Buy laptop we've come to know and love!

What- you don't own one?! Well, read on anyhow. A lot of what we cover here should work with other machines. Now, let's begin- and remember, laptops ARE upgradeable! Practice your evil villain laugh whenever someone tries to say they aren't...

 
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Step 1: In the beginning...

Let's take a second to look at the stock specs of an Acer Extensa 5620-6830:

T5250 CPU (1.5Ghz, 667Mhz FSB, 2MB L2 Cache)
1GB DDR2 RAM 667Mhz (two sticks of 512MB)
15.4" WXGA Crystal Brite 1280x800 LCD
200GB 4200rpm SATA 8MB cache HD
Intel 3945 802.11a/b/g Mini-PCIe Wifi
4000mAh Lithium Ion Battery

Yeah, that is a little dated. I did leave out the DVD Multi Drive (as that is still pretty standard) and the GMA965 / X3100 Intel videocard (which isn't upgradeable anyway). But everything else listed above? I say... eBay it! Seriously, I sold off all my old parts on eBay and Craigslist to help offset the cost of new components. Madness, you say? Maybe. But every item on that list can be seriously upgraded!

Bwahahahaha! ...sorry, mad scientist laugh.

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greggor20146 months ago

hello,

this is a great tutorial how to upgrade the extensa - thanks for that. it's very useful and to the point. you inspired me to change a screen, so i followed you instruction and now my extensa looks really refreshed :) so thanks for that again. i installed WSXGA (1680x1050) and it is just great. sure things are much smaller, but still readable and sharpness is much better (i used one from hp 6710b - it has the same inverter plug, so "only" the cable had to be upgraded, which was quite a challege, but went well thanks to your detailed description).

thanks one more time for extending life of my extensa, now i reckon, i'll be using it for couple more years - no gaming, but great for working. i simply love the keybord.

nnightshade11 months ago
Hi !
I dont know if anybody is still reading this, anyway ...
I have an Acer Extensa 5620Z and I would like to try install a WUXGA or a WXGA+ display. Do you think that the second data channel for the display is available on this model, I mean, the slot might have 40pins but they might not be soldered to the motherboard, I hope you can understand what Im trying to say, with this poor explanation.
euwil1 year ago
Hi, thanks for this guide. You inspired me to change out the LCD (1080p - $28), upgrade my ram (3 to 4gb) and cpu (t7700) on my old 5620. I made the upgrades on the cheap, for fun and to see how long I could keep the extensa useful.

The hardest part was the LCD cable. I managed to accidentally fry my inverter ($18) so be care must be taken when handling it. Your schema of the 30 pin was excellent and spot on. I just wanted to point out for others that it is very important to shield the new wires from EMF radiation. Otherwise, you will get a "sparkly screen". I initially assumed the LCD panel or cable was dead until I verified the continuity and placement of the wires in the plug. I used metallic duct tape to insulate them. Not plain duct tape, metal tape that is used for ducts (I think it's aluminum). I also added grounding to the 30 pin.

Anyway, I enjoyed this project and enjoyed this page you setup. Just wanted to let you know that your guide is still used and appreciated after all these years.

BTW, are you still using your extensa?
d91234 years ago
did you upgrade the bios? Mine is 1.17
CharredPC (author)  d91234 years ago
Yes, I have the latest BIOS, v1.35. It's available here.
d9123 CharredPC4 years ago
i AM TRYING TO USE  launchCLB-EXEC IN WINDOWS and I keep getting a Open Flash system fail

I DOWNLOADED, EXTRACTED AND TRIED TO RUN

WHAT AM I doing wrong?

Thanks


CharredPC (author)  d91234 years ago
I recommend to always flash the BIOS in pure DOS mode, not within Windows.
ago3 CharredPC3 years ago
I feel like a noob all over again - haven't used a PC in years! I'm trying to upgrade a friend's 5620 and the BIOS is v1.16. I tried getting it done within Windows (even booted from a recovery disc and tried to flash via command prompt but keep getting a flash sys fail, or 64 bit incompatibility. How can I do it in pure DOS mode?

Thanks!
CharredPC (author)  ago33 years ago
I generally use a small USB drive I've made just for this purpose. You can Google for "USB DOS drive" and download instructions and a package for creating one. Perfect use for old 128MB jump drives. Just make sure that the new BIOS you download isn't 64-bit or Win32 only.
d9123 CharredPC4 years ago
I installed a T8300 processor and my vista processor score went from 4.5 to 5.4. Also Sandra indicates that the fsb is now at 800 . Also a lot less heat from the CPU. Great.

May try to upgrade the Hard drive next as this may help the start up time. I don't want a really noisy hard drive through or one that heats up too much or draws to much power. I assume the Fujitsu 320 GB hard drive fits that bill?  I see it only costs $ 69.00 with shipping.

If my fsb is really at 800, should I look at faster memory?

Thanks a lot
d9123 d91234 years ago
I installed the hard drive. what a difference! This is one great machine now.
I only problem is relatively slow starting Acer provided launch programs which I believe are not probably necessary. Did you delete these programs?

Also the Acer provided recovery disks that I purchased would not format the new drive. A local PC shop gave me a copy of a Vista Home start up disc and that did format the disc. Then the Acer provided materials worked fine. I only purchased the recovery discs from Acer because the a Acer back up split my hard drive which I didn't want in the future.

I think I will stop here as the LCD screen looks ok to me and I can't really speed up the graphic's card. May change out the WI FI card some day.

Thanks again. I would not even thought about doing this without your help.
Great, great great. You are doing everyone a great service.
d9123 CharredPC4 years ago
Thanks - Upgrading the bios was easy in windows after I right clicked and ran the file as a administrator. Thanks - now on to putting in the new CPU.

should mention that I used MSCONFIG to stop all non microsoft programs before I upgraded


d9123 CharredPC4 years ago
Thanks will try
hey i was trying to upgrade my battery but could not find a website for one....any suggestions?? please help.
zack2473 years ago
this laptop seems to be the intel cpu version of the aspire 5530!
i had one and it had the exact same case and everything, righ down to the built in webcam and missing riser on the motherboard. the motherbaord is the only part thats different between your acer and the 5530.
jimdangle3 years ago
thanks for this, this kind of looks like what I have been obsessing over. My deal is i have a dell 1737 laptop that came with a wcga+ screen which cracked ( i suspect heavier laptops cause screens to crack more easily when falling due to gravity and their extra weight). Anyways, i had several led lcd displays of the same 17 inch size from various other laptops, hp, toshiba, acer, etc, but not from dell. i wanted to do a swap up to one of these wuxga screens (are they superior or does led just save energy costs and let the screen be thinner?, doesn't led improve contrast ratio a bunch in hdtv's?)
Anyways, my comment/questions relates to having to buy a nu484 led lcd cable for $30 to go witha new dell wuxga for over one hundred and nto being able to use any of the other brands screens mentioned aboe.

Why do laptop makers make it so damn hard to use other screens? This seems to involved these lvds cables and the fact that they all seem to have proprietary connecters. Even from dell to dell the same cables seemingly cannot be used. is this just there way of making it harder to cut them out of the replacement screen chain? could i just solder or splice the lvds cable from, say, the toshiba screen into the dell cable that will fit into my dell 1737 motherboard? are there little adapters i coudl put on the end fo these things? lets say i wanted to use the acer 7714z led lcd screen and i had a dell cable nu 481...how would one combine those? also, is it true that no inverter is needed to put with my new wuxga monitor in my dell, which came with a wxga+ screen that had a separate inverter?
thanks,
bashi3 years ago
I updated my processor to T5750 from Intel T2930 & Now my laptop ( which is a Extensa 5620Z ) is running its processors at 80-85 Celsius & Fan is always on I applied thermal compounds at the processor & the heat sink but no use, Is this Normal ? or what can I do for this

I cleaned the Fan & Vent holes too
bashi3 years ago
does any one know a shop which sells cheap Processors & Shipping to Sri Lanka
bashi4 years ago
 Dear Charred PC I am following this guide &  I did Some upgrades But the thing is that I cant use RAM more than 2 GB . Even when i plug in  4 GB of RAM it says only 2GB in BIOS & in the system properties Any clue or way around ??
CharredPC (author)  bashi4 years ago
That's odd. What RAM modules are you trying to use? Two 2GB sticks should work fine. If you're trying to use a single 4GB stick, that would explain it... our 5620's can only see 2GB max per slot.
bashi CharredPC4 years ago
 No I tried two 2GB Rams but it didnt work out then i tried a 1 GB & a 2 GB card they also didnt work :(

My bios is also v 1.35

any help ???

My Model is 5620z
CharredPC (author)  bashi4 years ago
Likely you are hitting the 32-bit OS memory limit (2.5-ish GB). You'll need to be running a 64-bit OS to take advantage of the full 3 (or 4) GB.
ks4ua4 years ago
Great guide!  I have an 18 month old Extensa 5620z and I've upgraded the RAM to 3GB and moved to Win 7 Home Premium.  Much better than the original 1GB + Vista!

Of the upgrades you mentioned, the one I am most interested is adding Mac OSX.  Do you have a detailed install guide for the Extensa?  If so, I would love to know where to start!
CharredPC (author)  ks4ua4 years ago
Yeah, the best upgrade you can do to these Acers is switch to anything but Vista! ;) I don't have a detailed write up for installing OSX, but you can find everything you need over at the forums of insanelymac.com. These days it's not very hard; I triple boot Windows 7 / OSX Leopard (10.5.8) / OSX Snow Leopard (10.6.x). Leopard works best IMO, and is what I use 95% of the time.
bashi ks4ua4 years ago
Hey Man How did You Update Like That Still It is impossible for me to do so in 5620Z
ks4ua bashi4 years ago
If you are asking how did I move from Vista to Windows 7? First I split the hard drive into two 80GB partitions. (You use the disk administrator tool to shrink your existing hard drive down to a 80GB, then create a new blank partition and format it. When you reboot you will end up with both a C and D hard drive.) After that, I installed Windows 7 Home Premium (32-bit) from a Windows 7 Upgrade DVD. You boot from the DVD and chose the "Custom Install" option. Then chose to keep the current Windows (Vista) and put a clean install of Windows 7 onto the second partition. After all of the installation finishes, you will end up with a new boot menu that asks if you want to boot Windows 7 or the "Previous Version" (which is Vista). I kept Vista around until I was certain that Win 7 was good for me. Eventually you can delete it after you get familiar with Win 7. Try the install tutorials over on Paul Thurot's Windows Super Site if you need help. (Google on "Windows Super Site") He explains everything in detail.
bashi ks4ua4 years ago
Thankx for the long reply mate but thats not what i asked n sorry for the confusion I wanted to knw how did u managed to work 3 GB of RAM coz my bios 1.35 V cant identify more than 2 GB
ks4ua bashi4 years ago
Actually my original post was WRONG. Apologize for the confusion. I replaced one of the original 512MB RAM sticks in my Acer Extensa with a 2GB stick (Kingston-brand standard SODIMM...nothing fancy). Anyway, I actually have 2.5GB in my Extensa...not 3GB as I said previously. There's no problems running Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit, Vista Home Premium 32-bit, or Linux. But when it comes to Windows, I am much happier running Windows 7 vs. Vista. As long as you're running a 32-bit version of Windows, I've heard that you can put a 2GB and 1GB stick together in these Extensa's with no problem. That would give a total of 3GB. I've also heard that if you put two 2GB sticks in one, it won't boot Windows 32-bit....period. You will always get the "blue screen of death". However, with two 2GB stick in there...4GB total, you should still be able to run Windows 64-bit versions just fine. Again, that's based on what I've read on notebookreview.com forums. Haven't verified the 4GB problem myself, but I can say the 2.5 GB works fine in my machine. Hope that clarifies things for you.
brotsack4 years ago
Brilliant article. Thanks. I am typing this on my Acer Aspire 4315 with a beautiful 14.1" WXGA+ (1440x900) panel, which I got from a dead Thinkpad T60 or T61. I was searching the internet for quite some time about any information regarding modification or new cable for the 4315. You are a champ. The pinout is a bit different though on the 4315, but works perfect.
CharredPC (author)  brotsack4 years ago
Glad this helped out, and great to hear of another WXGA cable mod success! Isn't the increased resolution a wonderful upgrade? :)
bowmaster4 years ago
But can it play Crysis?
CharredPC (author)  bowmaster4 years ago
No, but in all fairness, nothing plays Crysis ;)
Alienware computers can. They can play it without breaking a sweat.
dista4 years ago
 Hi 
AC connection point of my extensa has gone in side and coz of this I am unable to connect with AC Adaptor...can any body please help me
pietcowsky4 years ago
I'm having trouble finding a place to purchase the processor. Can you recommended a place?

Great post by the way! I was about to get a new laptop, but i love my acer and i much rather do this. Thank you.
When I upgrade my processor will this also improve my graphics capabilities ?

I have 965 chipset + x3100 graphic accelerator.

I think it runs at a maximum of 384 mb currently.
CharredPC (author)  pietcowsky4 years ago
Yes and no.

You won't magically have a high-end videocard or more video memory, but these upgrades do help the onboard X3100 video a bit. I didn't do any benchmarking, but the difference was noticeable to me. Especially with an on-board shared-memory card, ram and cpu upgrades do improve performance.

That said, don't expect to suddenly rate over a 3.5 in Windows' video performance index ;)
CharredPC (author)  pietcowsky4 years ago
What processor are you looking to purchase? Either eBay or Froogle should find you a Socket P (800Mhz FSB, remember!) cpu, just make sure the seller is reputable (many positive reviews or feedbacks).
bashi4 years ago
 Can i do the same with acer 5620Z

its specs are 
Intel Pentium dual core T2390 Processor
(1.86 GHz, 533 FSB, 1MB L2 cache)
15.4 WXGA LCD
965 chipset + x3100 graphic accelerator
120 GB HDD
CharredPC (author)  bashi4 years ago
Yes! The 5620Z uses the same chassis as my 5620-6830, so you can do every upgrade listed here :)
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