Upgrading my Dell Latitude c640 w/ C/Dock II Bios and others
Posted 30 August 2007 - 10:38 AM
I have a Dell Latitude C640 with the C/Dock II since new (I bought it for a couple thousands in 2002) and it is still my notebook of choice to work. I am sure that there are plenty of new ones, but I just love it and it never let me down.
First the Stats:
Dell Latitude C640 1.8 GHz/ 2 GB RAM / 60 GB hard disk / CDRW/DVD Combo and a C/DOCK II
Currently on the PCI slots I have a wireless card but I am thinking about putting a internal one using the available miniPCI slot.
1) Bios change - what is the gain of upgrading/changing the bios to another version/model? (I already have the last one from Dell installed)
2) C/DOCK II power - none of the USB 2.0 cards I installed on the dock works, it is recognized and everything, but it cannot power external hard disks...
3) Video Card - What is the best video card I could install inside the dock?
Please let me know,
All the best,
Posted 30 August 2007 - 11:08 AM
The latest latitude BIOS from Dell is the best option in your case, unless you want to overclock or something crazy like that. (which might not be possible due to processor or cooling system limitations)
2. As for USB 2.0, I just use a belkin pcmcia card in my laptop and my dock pci slots are freed up.
I do not know about power issues (I don't have any with mine and a single 2GB ethernet card, nor do I know anyone who has had issues), but if you know what you are doing you can probably use a desktop power supply with some cable splicing and stuff.
3. As for the best PCI video card, your best bet is either the GF FX 5700 LE or whatever its called, or I think there is also a GF 6100 or 6200 PCI card as well.
For mini PCI cards I replaced the crappy 11mbps ab card with a netgate card with an atheros chipset that is capable of full 108mpbs super G, and has many features (can probably run as an access point in linux, ect) can do 100 mw power output.
However there are better options these days with all the new N stuff, so you might want to search around, you also might need to mod some custom antennas in your laptop, but its definitely a better option than docking only wifi. You can install better antennas in the laptop than typical desktop PCI cards, or laptop PCMCIA cards usually have sticking out. You could of course replace an external card's antenna with custom made cantenna or soemthign like that of course, to hook an external antenna up to a built in card would require some wiring rerouting inside the laptop, unless you like having wires coming out from the bottom.
You might want to get the belkin usb2 cardbus card, a nice belkin 7 port hub to go with it, then install a sata RAID card in the dock and a second graphics card.
That is a pretty good configeration, but really these days your better off pluncking down money on that dual 8700m GT quad core desktop CPU raid 5 capable laptop Pieter mentioned in the news section a few days ago.
Posted 28 January 2008 - 01:41 PM
The s***ty thing about laptop USB ports (even on the docks/replicators) is that they have they are powered by the minimum amount of watts required. Most external HDs require twice that, and only come with one usb plug (if you can find one with two, that should work, or one with an external power supply).
As for the videocard... well, technically any PCI card should work, but that's not the case. I have a Latitude C840 with a C/Dock II. I tried putting an EVGA GeForce 5200 (128mb DDR, 64-bit, 4 pixel pipelines [http://www.newegg.co...82E16814130188]) in and that one worked, but for some reason it was registering as a DX8 card instead of a DX9. I tried putting an EVGA GeForce 6200 (256mb DDR2, 64-bit, 4 pixel pipelines [http://www.newegg.co...82E16814130289], and my laptop wouldn't even post... The card worked fine in my desktop, but it wouldn't even post in the Dock. Tomorrow, I'm going to try a BFGTech GeForce FX 5500 (256mb DDR, 128-bit, 4 pixel pipelines [http://www.newegg.co...82E16814143032] and see if that works. Right now, I'm on the phone with Dell Tech support (34 minutes now...) waiting to talk to someone with half a ****ing brain to tell me if there is a list of supported video cards I can use.
Post here if you find a video card that works
And Bill... do you know of a BIOS that would allow one to overclock a Latitude? Specifically a C840?
Update: Apparently no one at Dell knows what video cards are supported by the C/Dock II.
Posted 29 January 2008 - 07:53 PM
Posted 05 February 2008 - 02:21 PM
How about registering and becoming a regular here in the forum. Love to see more of you and your C/Dock II.
As far as OCing the C840, I haven't seen anything in the last years at all. Heat is already an issue!
Posted 27 February 2008 - 07:38 PM
I've had interesting experiences with USB2.0 cards in the dock. The first one I tried (USB2.0 only) caused a beep and a disturbing "F1 to continue" on every post. After hitting F1, everything was fine, but that got old pretty quickly.
Then I passed my original CPx on to the wife and bought my current C840. Eventually I picked up a combo card with 5 USB2.0 ports and 3 IEEE1394 ports. One of the USB and one of the Firewire ports come off the edge of the card internally... but I carved a hole in the back of my C/Dock "hood" so that I could even connect to them.
I have three or four external 2.5" USB hard drive enclosures, and I've never been able to run one off a single USB port successfully. Most of them have a dual USB Y-cable to suck on two USB ports for power, and the one oddball has a USB + PS2 Y-cable, with a passthrough connector on the PS2 so that you can tap additional power from that port while still plugging in a mouse or keyboard. Convenient, it ain't.
I have two external generic 5-1/4 drive chassis. One has USB2.0 only, and the other has both USB2.0 + 1394. In the former I have a 330GB disc and in the latter, an LG GSA-4160B DVD writer.
In this funky setup everything works perfectly except that verification almost always fails when I burn backup data DVD's with Nero 7 in the LG. The burn goes perfectly, verfication starts and then after a few stumbles, the drive actually disappears from the system(!)
I've run binary compares on a few discs after the fact with another utility, and I've never found any actual errors, but it's disturbing not to have my critical backups verify when I'm cutting them. Life is too short for this.
The same drive+chassis+software work flawlessly if connected directly to the C840 1394 port, or to a PCMCIA USB2.0 card. I drag this card with me if I'm travelling but I don't like using it at home 'cos it's hidden by the monitor stand in the docking station and I tend to forget about it when undocking. Ouch.
I've tried everything I can think of to cure the verfication issue, and I'm down to suspecting the card, the C/Dock, or the combination of the two. It's suspicious to me that the interface card I've been using is no longer available. Now if I search for a similar 5xUSB2, 3x1394 card, they're all based on a VIA chipset.
I have one on order... :-)
I also have a firmware update that I want to flash into my LG drive, but I need to do some work on an old desktop or borrow somebody's before I can do that. However I really don't think it's an issue for my problem since the drive works perfectly if the Dock + interface card are cut out of the picture.
Well I'll quit typing now as I suspect nobody is ever gonna see this post anyway.
Posted 28 February 2008 - 06:27 PM
I suspect some of your problems stem from the fact that the C/Dock II appears as a secondary PCI bus to the host. Hardly any PCI-slot device is really able to fully handle whatever quirks that may involve. That's probably the cause of the troubles with most graphic cards in the dock.
-> That's probably where your "F1 to continue" message comes from [likely an incomplete, or missing bus initialization].
-> For my feeling, your external drive problems are related to missing/insufficient power to the drives. Virtually all external drives need some form of hefty external power to be supplied. 3,5" enclosures usually include a hefty power pack for that reason. The smaller 2,5" housings are more frugal & try to give the impression that they can live off the power supplied directly through the USB cable. Laptops USB ports, as a rule, do not supply nearly enough power to operate even 2,5" drives unless paired with a Y-cable. The ports of most standard PCs are also spec'd at about 250 ma, even though the standard calls for a 500 ma supply. I have an external drive too, which was also supplied with a split, or Y-cable. The second drop is solely to tap the power of the second port, which is then usually enough to function properly. I also have a PCMCIA-based USB 2.0 card [NEC chipset] which included the PS/2 keyboard pass-through you mentioned. I usually connect the drive directly to the pass-through, AND use both of the Y-cable plugs for the connection, which seems to work reliably. Your combo card probably doesn't supply ANY power on the internal drops, and the rest are probably typical 250 ma ports too, which would explain your observations. Be aware that you really need to use external supplies with each of those drive enclosures.
-> Your 'verify' problems with that LG drive are also probably symptoms of not enough juice. That can even be the result of the combination of C/Dock & laptop only seeing the 90 watts of the standard 'brick', which in some situations might not be nearly enough for proper operation when lots of periphery is involved, and the port drivers are sinking significant loads driving all those external signals.
-> Any flash action on that drive really should only be performed on a master PCI bus to avoid surprises.
Unfortunately the C/Dock II is often not really the panacea it could be. The PCI bus evidently doesn't really deliver the full spec'd power to cards, and is still rather slow in comparison with an AGP bus. That's probably why the docked graphic adapters are not really all that performent. I'd really love to see great graphics [256 KB and shader 2.0] off the C/Dock II. Then I'd make room someplace to enjoy my BF2142 aspirations. Some of us are stuck with these old lappies.
Posted 12 March 2008 - 08:36 AM
I got a C640 and iv been doing a bit of research on it,
alot of people have been saying that you cant install a better graphics card then the Radeon 7500 32mb card.
I really need to upgrade it then vista will be working really well.
So if anyone has installed a better card, please, please tell me what model it is.
And also what do docking stations do exactly?? i would love to know because i might as well buy one if it actually helps the lappy out
Posted 31 May 2008 - 01:36 AM
I'm really happy to still find some people using the c640 and the c/dock II. lets keep that thread alive! I'm going to buy a usb2.0 pci card for my cdock and think about getting a pci graphics adapter with dvi output (so thank you for the post ....). I just love my 1600x1200 display ;-)
I just got my c/dock II from ebay and realized that the cpu will only run on low speed because of lack of power (I use my standard PA-6 ac adapter with 70W) there is a bios message which says I need the pa-9 ac adapter with 90W but when I check the power consumption I only get about 30-40w when not charging my batteries (when charging of course it goes up to 70W but this happens also without the cdock)
I'm bit annoyed because neither the cdockII description nor the notebook manual says that I need the pa-9 adapter for full cpu speed (in fact the cdockII manual explicitely mentions the pa-6 ac adapter). otherwise I would have bought the pa-9 adapter with my cdockII. Is there a workaround so the cpu gos to full speed when I use my pa-6 70W adapter? as I mentioned before my cdockII with my c640 docked only uses 30-40W depending on hdd usage and I don't think going to full cpu speed would consume more than additional 30W ...
Posted 31 May 2008 - 06:04 PM
Posted 14 June 2008 - 04:41 AM
I just got my pa-9 adapter and I'm running finally on full speed! :-) unfortunately the usb pci card I installed just last week still doesn't work (I hoped that it was caused by the low ampere of the pa-6 adapter). I don't want to run 2,5hdd cases from my usb pci card but just eg a usb-stick or the usb hub which is built into my LCD flatscreen or an external power adapter powered 3.5" hdd enclosure, so no high power requirements necessary. running from a pcmcia card usb2.0 verything works fine ...
the usb pci card is recoqnized but when I plug a usb device into the pci card after a while the device shows up as "unknown device" in the device manager (and there I get the hint that a connected device is not working properly ...) thats really annoying because the reason for the c-dock II was this usb pci card! I also bought an extra more powerfull power adapter for the c-dock and now the whole usb-thingy doesn' work? I hope that it might be because of the chipset or a specific usb-pci card? I tried a logilink 4+1 pci usb2.0 card with a VIA VT6212L chipset. can anybody who successfully used an usb pci card quote his chipset or the manufacturer and model of his/her usb-card? so I can try it with a different one ... oh yes, the usb card only worked on the upper pci slot, on the lower the laptop wouldn't even boot ...
Posted 13 July 2008 - 05:41 PM
When using a pcmcia card the one I have actually plugs into the usb on the back drawing required power from there for the card and forget about powering dries from the ports themselves there is just not enough power to go around off the USB bus use one with an external adaper.
And the GFX5500 graphic cards run just fine in the Cdock II but be aware as soon as you fire up the C640 the cooling fan will come on in the Cdock (it is rather noisy) .
As far as Vista on the C640 goes go with openSuse 11.0 with the new KDE interface using compiz you have all the glass,tansparency, and wobbly windows you can handle and then some, it all works.
Mine while in the dock normally runs 1.2 gb ram two harddrives a 120 and 100 along with a dl burner that fits right in the avaliable slot that once upon a time had the cdr in it. and as far as burning and verifying it all runs smooth whether I am burning in XP or openSuse ( it dual boots with openSuse being the default).
I wouldn't trade my C640 for anything on the market at the moment.
Posted 04 August 2008 - 02:15 PM
first, the best bet AFAIK would be the ALI M5271 chipset. to ease finding usb cards with that chipset here are some brands selling usb/combo-cards with the ali chipset (unfortunately most companies discontinued the ali chipset in favor to the (incompatible) via chipset):
a) SYBA SD-COMBO-02 (2xusb, 2xfw)
SB-CBALINEC-4E6I USB 2.0 & 1394a Combo
ADS Tech DLX-180 (2xusb,2xfw), but: DLX-180-3 has nec chipset!
- USBG-2PCI1394 ALi M5271 5-Port USB 2.0/3-Port FireWire PCI Card
in google you find information that in a certain period the product with the produkt id (produkt nr, it's a german company) 89050 uses the ali chipset. I asked the company about that and they told me that this is not true, they never used the ALI chipset with that product.
e) Gainward Hollywood@Home MultiPort Card
not sure about that ...
I currently use an ali usb/fw combo card which doesn't show any brand ... there is nothing special on the card, the chipset is labeled with ALi M5271 A1 0411 TS05 EK444391000C, on the backside there is a sticker with FS-MEG-ALI and it's a 4xusb/2xfw (1x mini, 1x normal) combo card. and it works flawlessly, so a branded "quality" card doesn't seem to be obligational.
on the other hand a new ebay hongkong-sold noname 2xusb/2xfw ali chipset powered card worked but had the "press F1 to continue" problem.
before I got the ali card I had an nec card (the known NEC JAPAN D720101GJ chipset) which showed the press F1 to continue" problem at some users. on the other hand my card didn't have that problem and worked right away. It's a belkin card (so not a noname card) and the chip is labeled with NEC JAPAN D720101GJ 0525PPA05. it's dark blue and has 4xusb external and 1xusb internal. the belkin product id seems to be N10117 (F5U220 PCI REV:3) on the backside is the eancode M0570075268.
so with those two chipsets (NEC and ALi) you should be able to have usb 2.0 support for your c-dock but there is no guarantee that you are free of the bios message "press F1 to continue" but THAT might be related to some bios settings because I don't get any message although using the nec chipset and some users do get the message (I don't use any other card in my c-dock) ... so if anybody needs my bios settings I can email them
Guest_New user X13_*
Posted 19 September 2008 - 09:21 PM
Posted 20 September 2008 - 07:33 AM
Dell never bothered to add all them fancy USB features to their older C series laptops.
Posted 20 September 2008 - 12:22 PM
Posted 19 May 2009 - 11:12 AM
I had the same trouble as a number of submitters whereby my USB 2.0 PCI card seemed to be recognised by my XP (SP2) system. However when I plugged in any USB device I eventually got an "unknown device" message in the device manager. It turns out my card was based on the VIA chipset.
The problem was solved by reading everybody's kind suggestions and buying a cheap 5 port Belkin USB 2.0 PCI card (F5U220) from Amazon at £13. This is the NEC chipset. I have also been a regular user of a PCMCIA version of this card having had no trouble at all.
I installed the Belkin PCI card in my C Dock II (connected to a Dell Latitude C840 XP Pro SP2) and it was found and installed automatically via SP2. It also works in either the upper or lower slot.
Everything is fine now and am looking to fill the second slot. The only slight drawback of the Dock is that the laptop itself seems to be obscured in silly place by the Dock - at its fan outlet ! So I hope my motherboard is not cooking too much !!
Thanks to everyone who submitted and helped me solve my problem.
Posted 15 August 2010 - 12:41 PM
Posted 13 November 2011 - 03:28 AM