Instructables

Acer Extensa Laptop (5620 / T5250) Upgrade & Tweak Guide

Some time ago I posted about installing Windows XP onto my new Acer Extensa 5620-6830 laptop. It's a nice little machine- the price was right, and standard specs aren't bad. But here's some information that could be helpful to anyone with this budget best Buy laptop and wants to get the most bang for their buck!

This guide will cover tips for upgrading, maintenance, plus tweaks and tricks specific for this and other similar model laptops. Learn how to double your battery life, what hardware can be replaced, and if it's smart to do so. In conjunction with my other Instructables, this has some valuable tidbits specific to notebook computers.


Contents:

1.Memory
2.Bluetooth/Wifi
3.CPU (hardware)
4.CPU (software)
5.Misc. Tweaks
6.Final thoughts
 
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Step 1: Memory (RAM & Hard Drive)

The Extensa 5620-6830 comes with 1GB of DDR2 memory. That's two sticks of 512MB. This unit technically supports 4GB; 2 x 2GB modules. However, unless you're running a 64-bit operating system (if you have to ask how you'd know, trust me... you're not) then only about 3GB will be usable. There's no fix for this, it's just a fact. All standard 32-bit operating systems are coded this way.

Due to this, I decided to purchase two 1GB modules (making 2GB total). I find that to be plenty sufficient; I've never run out of memory in XP. Keep in mind, Vista will use about 1GB just to boot and run. You'll want to buy 667Mhz modules. There are 800MHz modules out there, but 99% of laptops on the market can't operate at that frequency. You'd be paying extra money for nothing, plus risking incompatibility.

There is an obvious single "hatch" on the bottom of the unit through which we access nearly everything- wifi card, RAM, hard drive, and CPU. You'll need a small philips-head screwdriver to open this. You shouldn't have to apply force once the screws are out, though take note of the plastic tabs along one side.

The stock hard drive is a TOSHIBA MK2035GSS 200GB drive. It runs at 4200RPM, has an 8MB Cache, and uses Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR) combined with Tunnel Magneto-resistive Recording (TMR) Head Technology. All that jargon supposedly means it's roughly as fast as a 5400rpm drive. I find it acceptable. There's faster drives out there, but is it worth wasting the $165 on a 200GB 7200rpm drive just to replace the original 200GB? You'd see a lot more heat, less battery life, and a big chunk out of your pocketbook.

The choice is yours, but I'm waiting for a faster (or equivelent-speed) 320GB drive.
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mcgj012 years ago
I want to install Windows 7 on my Acer 5620, from windows XP. Before I do the upgrade I wanted to upgrade the memory. I have bought two 2gig memory modules, to upgrade from two 1gig modules. Upon startup the message 'Starting Windows' appears, with the scroll bar, then a blank screen, followed by a restart. Inserting one 2gig module and the machine starts up. Install both and it doesn't. I reinstalled the two 1gig modules and everything is fine. Please help!!!!!!
aabhilash2 years ago
hi,is it possible upgrade it to 3.0GHz processing speed sir??????
cisguy2 years ago
I have an Acer 5620 with the power connector pushed in. I took all the visible screws out, but it wont come apart near the screen which is where the power port that is pushed in is. I looked for a guide on taking it completely apart and didn't find one. I've worked on computers for years, but not normally laptops. If you have any advice on this you can email me at d.dufford@gmail.com. Thanks for your help.
kknight23 years ago
I upgraded the laptop from vistato windows 7 and the onboard mic doesn't work, the drivers installed correctly, but the mic just isnt working. when i check the volume settings, the mic seems to be maxed out even though there is no input.
I googled some other sites and others have ben having problems with tis as well. Do yo have any solutions?
I'm having same problem. Did you ever find a fix ? Anyone ???? I've checked the usual suspects....mute...levels...reinstall driver (at least i think i reinstalled but *&^%$% Microsoft gave the driver an ambiguous "Sound Device" name to suspect driver which could be anything. I presume to be the mic driver).
CharredPC (author)  kknight23 years ago
I'll check what driver version I am using next time I'm at home with the laptop (I, too have upgraded to Windows 7) and verify the mic is working.
I too have upgraded from Vista to XP to Windows 7.

Mic works.

BUT the battery went completely downhill. Used to be over 2 hours in XP and within week of installing W7 the battery went to 15 minutes.

Any fix, possible to update battery driver??

Thanks.
d91234 years ago
I have a acer extensa 5620-6830 with  a 1.5 CPU. If I change the CPU to T8300 will I have to change the bios?
CharredPC (author)  d91234 years ago
Probably, yes. But flashing the BIOS is not very difficult.
I am using BIOS version 1.35 which works well with the T8300
rcoover2 years ago
I've upgraded my T5250 CPU to a T8300. The new chip has an FSB of 800. Checking my memory chips, I find a 2 GB DDR2 chip with a speed of 400 and another 2 GB DDR2 with a speed of 333.

The two mismatched chips seem to work well with each other, but would I have an increase in speed if I replaced the slower chip with a faster one?
wizzy6174 years ago
can my 5620 run windows 7
CharredPC (author)  wizzy6174 years ago
Yes! Very well, in fact. These days I no longer use XP at all, but dual boot between Windows 7 and Mac OSX.
Hey i wanna run Mac on my 5620 as well, i have iatkos S3 v2, that i run on another system. What version of Mac do you run on your system?
Hi Charred, I have the same Acer and now my HD makes noise when it spins. Does that mean it's about to break? I am guessing the answer is yes.
CharredPC (author)  paulvick20024 years ago
Yeah, noises when spinning is an internal hard drive problem. The good news is that they're fairly cheap now- if you hunt around, you can get a 500GB replacement for under $100.
and how would i go about doing that
yap
davison1124 years ago
I have this same exact laptop, and ws thiking, does yours overheat ALL THE TIME?!?!?!? and was wondering if it does, did you fix it and how?
CharredPC (author)  davison1124 years ago
Mine never overheats, so I'm betting your cpu fan and / or heatsink is clogged up. Check my latest Instructable to find out how to open up the laptop, then try cleaning out any crud you find. You might also try carefully cleaning off the cpu, and re-applying a think layer of fresh thermal paste or Arctic Silver.

Also, it may sound funny, but upgrading the cpu is a big help. The original has a 65nm core, which puts out quite a bit more heat than the newer 45nm design. My temps have gone down since installing a 2.6Ghz T9500!
hjoab CharredPC3 years ago
Did you need to upgrade the BIOS? where do get the bios upgrade in this case?
abraxas23 years ago
Can you tell me where I might buy these memory modules ? Any specsI need to watch out for on the modules ? Also, I'd like to back my HD up. I do so with a RW DVD and the backup utility. Problem is this, after it finishes with 1 DVD, I am prompted to insert another one whereupon nothing happens after I close the tray. Any ideas ?
I installed Rightmark and my temperature dropped by 25 degrees. Thank you!
Also I am thinking about putting Windows 7 on my Acer 5620 as I can for free, do you recommend doing so?
CharredPC (author)  paulvick20024 years ago
Windows 7 runs quite well on my 5620- if you can install it for free, by all means, do so.
loadsasy4 years ago
i have 1 quest pls help..... Intel Core 2 Duo Mobile 2,26 GHz P8400 works on acer extensa 5620?
CharredPC (author)  loadsasy4 years ago
Probably way too late to help you, but for posterity:

The P8400 will not work in our 5620's, or any GM965 chipset for that matter. Our maximum FSB speed is 800Mhz; the P8400 uses a 1066Mhz FSB.
kenwg4 years ago
The DC-in jack on my 2 year-old 5620-6830 has failed.  I know it's the jack, because I bought a new AC adapter and it still doesn't work.  Question - Is it likely to be the jack itself, or something worse (the motherboard).  Can I replace the jack or is it integrated into the m-board?  I tried cracking the case, but couldn't get one edge to come up and I didn't want to force it, so I don't know how it's set up.  Assuming the jack can be pulled off and replaced, I don't know how to do it or even if I can get a replacement jack - will have to contact Acer I suppose for the jack.   Anyway, if anyone has some guidance it will be greatly appreciated. 
By the way, when I bought this the first thing I did was take it to my local geek shop and to have Vista removed.  They installed XP and it's run perfectly ever since.
kenwg kenwg4 years ago
Good news - I just did a search online for the jack and found lots of them available on line.  Apparently it just plugs into the motherboard.  So I bought one and it's on the way - now I just need to know how to open the case without breaking it....

Thanks.
CharredPC (author)  kenwg4 years ago
Yes, the DC jack is meant to be replaceable. You do have to disassemble the entire laptop, but then it's as simple as unplugging the bad on and plugging in the new one. If you can track down the 5620 service manual, it described how to take everything apart.
kenwg CharredPC4 years ago
Thanks.  I'll look for the service manual.
zihuajc4 years ago
hi i have extesna 5620-6830 and i want windows xp but i cant install it somebody can help me 
kenwg zihuajc4 years ago
As I understand it from the guy who installed XP on mine, XP can't be installed on a computer built for Vista without an additional driver that isn't included on the XP installation disk.  You have to obtain the driver (I don't know where, but it's probably on the Microsoft website), burn a new XP install disk with the extra driver included, and then use that disk as your install disk.  Mine has worked perfectly now for 2 years so I know it can be done.  Good luck.
CharredPC (author)  kenwg4 years ago
You can install XP on most modern laptops, as long as you go into the bios and change the hard drive from AHCI/SATA mode to IDE. Otherwise, yes, you would need a driver that isn't on the XP disc.
ericsotelo5 years ago
Hey CharredPC, Do you do repair work over the mail? I have this laptop. Acer Extensa 5620 on Vista Home Premium SP1, Intel Core 2 Duo T5550 1.83 GHz 3Gig Mem. No one will downgrade my Laptop to XP Pro for fear that the drivers will not be compatible. What do you charge to do this to my laptop? Thanks, Eric Sotelo esotelo@earthlink.net P.S. How does Leopard run on the Extensa? Can you do that to my laptop too? LOL.. .Thanks. I would rather just pay someone like you who knows how to do this the right way then me screw up my laptop.. Thanks for responding.
WendyW5 years ago
I have a question about my laptop Acer Extensa 5620-6830 .Need to know where to purchase a AC/DC adapter so I can use it in the truck as I don't have wireless service yet. Acer stated they didn not make any for this computer but is there a universal one that will work?
red-king WendyW5 years ago
I found it... unfortunately its quite large... http://www.dcacpowerinverters.com/itemdesc.asp?ic=PW200-12
red-king WendyW5 years ago
I think there is one. i'll post another reply once i find it.
masterpj5 years ago
well i improved my laptop with ensane result myself. i am laptop expert (no joke) i dont have tutorials, because i either dont have time or well it's not always easy to explain.
Khalili5 years ago
Can I upgrade my graphics (Current: X3100) with some external graphic card. Regards.
CharredPC (author)  Khalili5 years ago
Unfortunately not. This laptop has no way to upgrade the videocard.
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