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My Inspiron 8200 upgrade FX5500

Drake Coldwinter

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Well, because of the forum shutdown my post went erased. I posted a post telling I would upgrade my laptop with parts I took from a couple of other laptops, well here I am 2 weeks later with my laptop on steroids ^c ^

Laptop before :

P4-M 1.7 Ghz

1 Gb ram

30 Gb Hard Disk

Geforce 2 go 32 ram

no internal wifi

Current laptop:

P4-M 2.0 ghz

1,5 Gb ram

120 Gb Hard Disk

Geforce 440 64 ram

Internal WIFI 54 Mbps

I also bought a c-dock 2 on ebay with a FX5500 256 ram pci card, I updated my BIOS to c840 and plugged everything, well the FX5500 works wonderful, I played Guildwars with full graphics and everything enabled, but it seems to have some troubles with the Geforce4 and the drivers, when I plug on the dock, the Geforce4 is detected as a new card and ask me for drivers for it, if I unplug the whole thing the geforce 4 works well ^c ^ small trouble for big gains. Currently I'm seeking for a PCI SATA and IDE controler, I wish to plug my DVD burner and a couple of Hard Disk on the enclosure (has anyone modded the enclosure? already I wish to cut the top so the video card can breath...

I have a big question, what are the differences between M50 BIOS and C840 BIOS ? What I should use one better than the other, as I understand I can't keep the i8200 BIOS as the Dock will not work, but which BIOS is better then ?

At last I bought sand paper and some spray paint...

To end my post, a small adventure I had, as my battery pack was broken, I opened it and looked on internet about how to buy new cells and rebuild the pack, then I cutted off one of the cells with the intention of bringing it to the electronics shop to buy the same model cell. When I got the dock I plugged the i8200 but it didn't recognize the dock, so I through I truly need to update the BIOS, the to update the BIOS I read somewhere you need a working battery for security, so I through no big deal I will solder back the cell and update the BIOS, so I solder the cell back and rebuilt the pack and then I plugged it on the laptop... HOLY s***! in about 30 seconds it became ###### hot as hell, I reacted pretty quick, I pulled out the battery, ripped fast as hell the plastic and inserted my cutter onto the wires of the cell, the cell was hot enough to burn, so I was afraid it would explode, I putted the cell in a box and putted the box outside the house...I did the whole action in a few seconds and fast as hell, I burned one of my fingers, it felt as if touching burning metal... after one hour I checked the cell, who did became cold and harmless, after checking carefully I had plugged well the cell but a small drip of solder had created a contact with the cell on his side...If you rebuilt badly a battery it can truly explode and caught fire, the plastic of the battery casing is half melted and it happened ###### fast...

I think I will better buy a battery on ebay, they are not that expensive... ^c ^

how can I know a battery is still in good health ? the lights on it mean nothing, my battery had 5 lights good but only lasted for 15 minutes... also I need a battery because when I plug or unplug my laptop on the dock currently I'm forced to reboot it, it's troublesome T_ T on the other hand I mostly use my laptop plugged, then I'm sure my battery will go bad in a few months, and I need a working battery for this september (I'm going to Japan) so I will check on internet some teaching class of how to keep your exploding battery safe and happy ^c ^

Edit: funny, the forum cutted all my big words and putted them with #### ... well still the battery incident it's well illustrated ^c ^

Edited by Drake Coldwinter
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You should get the C840 A13 BIOS, it is newer than the M50's A12 BIOS. (C840's A13= I8200's A11 in terms of bug fixes, only differs in dock support)

The M50's A12 is comparable to the I8200's A10.

As for the cards your looking for something like this.


I have not installed a RAID card in mine yet so I can't really offer a suggestion for brands except don't get the real cheap ones.

You can search on newegg's power search specifically for cards based on interface and number of connections, hardware RAID features, ect.

There were some cards I was looking at a few months ago for my dock that had both desktop IDE and SATA 3 Gbps connections.

The dock should be easy to cut to accommodate larger cards and/or better cooling, although I have not cut mine yet.

You could cut a hole in the top cover and place a small fan there. (60 or 80 mm maybe?)

Or on the backside of the the dock to blow directly between 2 cards.

You could also install a fan in place of the modular bay to blow between the cards, you shouldn't need a second drive in the modular bay when you have a desktop RAID solution or something.

As for graphics card drivers, with the latest A13 BIOS and the correct BIOS dock setting it shouldn't detect your card twice, although its possible there will be left over drivers after you flash from the I8200 BIOS to the C840/M50.

You should try to install the same exact driver version on each card. 82.10 might be good for you to try, I'm still using it on my quadro.

I have not gotten a gf card for mine so far, so I haven't tested it out myself.

Nice battery info you posted, I have disassembled one of mine and its nice to know what not to try to do with it.

Oh, and welcome to our newly reopened forums. :)

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Well there, Mr. Drake Coldwinter, you've managed to stick your nose into a real hornets nest there.

If you want the truth regarding ANY manipulations on your battery pack ----- DON'T muck with it!

They consist of Lithium-Ion cells which can be very explosive. They are infact so dangerous, that here in Germany even the local licensed battery shops are not allowed to purchase, let alone, manipulate the individual lithium-ion cells because of their dangerous nature. They are extremely "reactive" to short-circuits and temperature variations [as you've now experienced first-hand]. :) The battery module is a sealed unit for a good reason. There is absolutely nothing serviceable in there. It consists of a complex electronic system which doses the charging levels to the cells, and among other things performs any discharge maintainence to keep them in shape. The circuitry also builds the charge level values which can be read over a built-in bus interface by the laptop. As you already noted, replacements are not that expensive, and may very well even have a higher capacity. If you press the button on the side of the module the charge status is displayed (1 led = 20%, 4 leds = 80%). If you continue to hold the button a bit longer (another 5 or 6 seconds or so), the module will also display the "charge capacity lost". For each led 20% capacity has been lost (2 leds would mean the module can only hold 100% - 40% = 60% remaining capacity). Keep your battery module from becoming warm, and don't charge it to death. The battery has a limited number of times it can be charged, so if you waste charging cycles with relative shallow charges, don't be surprised when that new, healthy battery loses capacity quickly. Shelf life is somewhere around 2 years, in service too.


As with regard to your C-Dock II:

- Be a bit careful with your plans. The C-Dock II lives off of a standard 90-watt power block just like the laptop, and therefore can't miraculously consume more power that the laptop already could. Any power-gulping PCI graphic card may cause things to become extremely unstable in the laptop behavior, not to mention additional hard drives, etc.

- As you've noticed, ventilation is very limited -- non-existent.

- As I recall there was a driver suite to be installed to make correct use of the C-Dock II (can't recall what the name was at the moment).

- It would be a good idea to try to deactivate the laptop's lcd screen to save some juice when using an external monitor with the dock's graphic card. Can't remember how that was done though (Fn-F8 or so?).

- I've often thought of popping a half-way decent PCI graphic card into my C-Dock II to get something with shaders and mucho onboard memory. I need to find something to make BF2142 work!! The biggest model I heard personally that would work was the 5200, but if your 5500 does the trick (what are the stats?).

I also seem to have lost a recent post I made in the Gaming section of the forum regarding a great driver for TCP/IP traffic shaping -- Cfos/CfosSpeed. Put a lot of effort into that one too. Oh well......

Edited by Darmdorf
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Bill>thanks for the link, yes I need a card similar to that with SATA and IDE ^c ^

I have been thinking about modding the dock these days, to put internal hard drives and a standard DVD burner I will need a power supply for sure, I had already taken into consideration that a 90W power supply will not be enough to boost the graphics, hard drives and DVD burner for sure. I haven't hacked the dock yet but I through that the best option would be to rewire a standard desktop power supply to boost the dock itself and take off the laptop power adapter.

As for the battery, thanks Darmdorf I didn't knew the trick of holding the button 5 seconds, unfortenaly I can't test the trick...well I can just quick solder back that exploding cell and ...

seriously, I freaked a lot with the battery, I could felt I did something truly dangerous with...no more touching that, promise ^c ^

My PCI card is a FX5500 with 256 onboard ram, I saw a 6600 PCI on ebay, but too expensive. I can say the FX5500 works wonderfull, I played a couple of hours on guildwars, but it lags a little(graphic lag, no net lag) :) I think is because of the driver trouble, I installed different drivers for both cards, I think this is not good, the Geforce 440 uses a driver I took from this web with optimized INf and all, the FX5500 I took from nvidia oficial site because this site was down back them. I think installing the same driver for both cards may solve the trouble. I will install the same driver and optimize a little, it will be much better I think. Also Guildwars has direct8 and direct 9 autodetect, if I start guildwars with the geforce 440 it uses direct 8, but with FX5500 it uses direct9, i should try to force direct 8 onto the FX5500 it will work better I think.

As for using the internal and the external card at the same time, currently I'm unable to do it... maybe when I install correctly the drivers, but if I connect the dock, the Geforce 440 is redetected so the laptop screen just shuts down completely...

In any case, all those things will wait, currently I have open my laptop and ripped all the pieces, I got an internal antena that I will put into the screen area, I got also a very small usb hub, so I have closed one of the back usb plugs and rewired the connection internally onto the hub, then I connected a internal bluetooth dongle and rewired 2 other usb ports into the drive bays, then I took the floppy drive and ripped it badly ^c ^ I have installed a card reader on it and a front usb port, on the battery pack I have used the case to build up a usb container also and I'm looking what to plug on it, maybe a usb hub and put up several front usb ports ^c ^ as for the case I put some putty on it and sanded it, currently the primer is drying and this evening I will begin with some color ^c ^ the nice thing about the usb on the drive bay is that I put a female connector, then you can unplug the card reader drive and plug a standard bay module ^c ^

For the record, I have some electronics experience (even if with the battery trouble it can seem doubtfull) I know how to solder and I have modded 3 desktops(paint job, fan control panels and lights galore) and one xbox(modchip, internal lcd, crystal clear case replacement and lights) but this is my first laptop mod, so I hope it will not be very bad... ^c ^

I'm making photos of all the process, so if nothings blows up I may be alive to post the photos one of these days ^c ^

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Bill, I have checked around and I see that there are plenty of driver versions, going up to 100 and more, you tell me that 82.10 might be good for me, I guess this is a stable yet optimized driver for Geforce 440 and FX cards ? shouldn't I go for the highest more recent driver I can or I should truly get 82.10 ? at first I was temptep to grab 97.44 as it seems to be the more recent driver with modded inf but then for games is this one the more performant driver ? this is very confusing, so my guess is that there is not a straight answer to this... I have checked :


and after reading it I can see that after the version 77.72 nvidia didn't add any other special support for 440 nor FX, then my guess is that any driver over 77.72 will do just fine...or not ? then I can see 67.66 as being recomended and the best driver for FX and 440 Go cards... ON the FAQ I read that 84.25 is the driver with most filled features and perfomance for games...On the other hand in


you recomend 84.21 as being the best driver...

In the end after reading a lot, compairing several versions and understanding nothing I have taken a wise decision, I'll take 82.10...

I guess that you must get several hundreds of post per year asking what driver should I install ? and it seems there is not a good easy answer... :)

also, would it change anything at all if I update the video card bios ? I have seen Bios for the Geforce440 card, brings it truly any perfomance gain to update the video card BIOS ?

edit: I found this http://forums.laptopvideo2go.com/index.php?showtopic=614 I'll read and inform myself on BIOS drivers first and ask later ^c ^

Edited by Drake Coldwinter
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Always going for the latest driver is a bad idea. You shouldn't hop into that bandwagon.

On older cards especially the latest drivers could cause problems, remember the 440 gos in the I8200 shipping with a 2x series driver.

On both the GF4 and GF FX series the 77.7x series is good and so are some 8x series drivers, but most likely you will encounter problems or slower performance going to 9x series drivers or newer.

I would recommend the 77.77 driver over the 77.72 version. You could also try both of the 8x series you mentioned, only one way for you to find out which one truly works best on both of your cards.

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  • 1 month later...
My PCI card is a FX5500 with 256 onboard ram, I saw a 6600 PCI on ebay, but too expensive. I can say the FX5500 works wonderfull, I played a couple of hours on guildwars, but it lags a little(graphic lag, no net lag) :) I think is because of the driver trouble, I installed different drivers for both cards, I think this is not good, the Geforce 440 uses a driver I took from this web with optimized INf and all, the FX5500 I took from nvidia oficial site because this site was down back them. I think installing the same driver for both cards may solve the trouble. I will install the same driver and optimize a little, it will be much better I think. Also Guildwars has direct8 and direct 9 autodetect, if I start guildwars with the geforce 440 it uses direct 8, but with FX5500 it uses direct9, i should try to force direct 8 onto the FX5500 it will work better I think.

Nice to see someone else still using desktop video cards in a C/Dock II. I have both a C400 (1.2ghz, 1GB PC133) and a C840 (2.2ghz, 2GB PC2700), and I have a C/Dock II with a Visiontek PCI Radeon X1300 256MB card in it, which is supposedly the most powerful video card ever made in the old standard PCI format. However I have found that I get much more use from the C/Dock II's video capabilities when using the C400 rather than the C840. As a matter of fact even though the external card is supposed to be much more powerful, have many times the RAM, etc, I get better benchmark scores from the C840's built in video card - up to a 1000 mark range of variation when running 3DMark2001.

Yes the X1300 has all the bells and whistles, pixel shaders and so forth, but I think the actual PCI bus in the C/Dock II transferring the data back and forth to the laptop, ends up slowing things down enough to cause poorer performance on faster systems than the built in graphics cards.

On the C840 using the Geforce4 440 Go I got a 3DMark2001 score of about 5120. On the same machine with the X1300 in the docking station it dropped down into the 4100-4700 range. Replacing the Geforce in the C840 with a Quadro4 700 GoGL raised my score up to 7300. These tests were done using a Xerox XM7-19W widescreen 1440x900 LCD monitor.

My wife also has an identical C400, and a 2ghz C840 w/512MB ram, and a C/Dock II with an Inno3D Geforce4 MX 440. She was also having issues with her C840 when plugged into the C/Dock II. It kept defaulting to the Geforce card in the C840 instead of the one in the dock, even when manually disabled in that hardware configuration, and settings wouldn't stay in place from reboot to reboot. As a result of the problems she just uses the C/Dock II with her C400, and plugs her C840 directly into the external Xerox LCD monitor. Since both the card in the C/Dock II and the card in her C840 are basically the same type of card it doesn't really matter to her.

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  • 2 months later...

Hay, tell us about the 2gb in your C840. Does BIOS see all 2gb and what BIOS are you using? I have been hearing rumors that it can be done but no one will comment on it. (now back to the thread)

I too am installing a FX5500 in a C Dock II for use with my sons C810, he's the gamer. The thinking was to keep it all nVidia. My first attempt was not good. The card never came up and it looks like I took out the 10/100 network connection in the dock trying to install the video card. Yes the dock power was off when installing the video card and I was using a 90 watt power supply, STRANGE FAILURE. Has anyone else had a simular experence? The good news is, C Docks are all over ebay. I just bought a replacement for $25 delivered.

I just read a thread at Dell that said video cards installed in C Docks must be able to run on the secondary PCI bus. I went to nVidia's web site to answer this simple question (I thought) and after 20 minutes of poking around I just plain gave up and unded up here.

I just tested the FX5500 in a desktop computer and came right up, I'm using it right now so that's not the problem

I have a C840 and my kids and wife have C810s and we have a bunch of C Dock IIs at home and at work. I started using these docks almost 10 years a go with my CPX 650j but I've never had to put anything in the card bay. The audio connections at the dock can get a little strange and I've yet to totally figure it out, don't ask Dell about this.

What does that coin cell battery in the dock hold up? The documentation doesn't say much about the function of the battery but I have replaced them from time to time just to be on the save side.

I've noticed there are at least 3 revs of the CDock II, Does any one know the difference between them?

15 years ago I was really feed-up the the state of portable computing. I sat down any wrote my wish list for a notebook and a docking system/quick release and then Dell took it a few steps further. I really like this flexibility and combination of hardware.

It's good to meet up with you guys

tx - jm

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For the RAM question, if your using the A11 I8200 BIOS or the C840 A13 BIOS 2GB of ram should work just fine, quite of a few of us mods have a gig stick or 2 in our I8200s.

Just go get 2x1 GB crucial PC 2700 sticks from Newegg, if somehow they really don't work you can just return them. But they should work just fine.

For the dock video card, you could try chaning the dock video option, if you turn dock video off it will default to booting through the built in card, and then it should install the secondary card like it normally would as a second card in a desktop. I would recommend installing the same 7x or 8x series driver on both your GF2/4/quadro go card and the dock FX card, then you can tell windows to use the monitor hooked up to the dock card to be your primary, then you can game on it.

However turning the dock video off means if your internal card blows up it wont automatically boot on the dock card, so your screwed till you get a replacement card or till you reset the BIOS.

If your C840 does bite the dust, you seriously should consider one of those 17inch SLI capable laptops with a dual/tri hard drive option as a replacement.

If power limitations is preventing the card from running you'll have to hack up your own power adapter. I don't know anyone who has tried it, and i don't know anyone who has confirmed for sure that a FX PCI card can use up more power than is available.

I have 2 different C/Dock IIs but all i know is the older revision one works (with screwy dock audio), the newer one doesn't work fully (no pci slots/SCSI) but audio works on it.

This is just from the very limited testing I have done, and I bought both very used for $25 or less. (one has scratches on cover even)

I haven't noticed any board differences, but maybe sometime I could check them out side by side if you ask really nicely. I don't have the second dock with me now though, so it would be a while before I ever do such a comparison. (first glances didn't reveal any major differences)

I have no idea about the battery's purpose, I haven't bothered trying to replace mine.

Nice to meet you too John.


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I'll try the 2 gb ram in my C840/A13 in the near future and report back.

Still waiting for the replacement CDock II so I can take another wack at the FX5500. I did try changing the video settings in BIOS to no avail. The whole thing just power cycled a few times and nothing ever appeared on the CRT. Then I tried a 90 watt supply to no avail. The 3Com ethernet port failure just makes me scratch my head, but I've seen a few CDocks with that problem. Thanks for the heads-up about video failure mode. I never would have thought that thru before hand.

Can you be more specific about 17 inch SLI. I always like to keep my eyes on the horizon.

I'm looking for a replacement 2.5" and larger than 100gb @ 7200rpm PATA drive for my C840, any suggestions. SATA drives appear to be the standard these days.

When I finally get the FX550 working with the kids C810s and CDock it should be a pretty cool setup!

tx - jm

4 CDock II (empty)

4 C810, 1.2ghz, 512 mb ram, CDRW/DVD, 40-60gb HDs, 32mb vram

1 C840, 2.4ghz, 512mb ram, CDRW/DVD DL, 80gb HD 64mb vram

4 second bay HD 40-80gb, 4 SUN 19" CRTs,

250gb NAS, 802.11 BG, 10/100, 2 HP X300

HP 1220C, LZR1580 / HP LJ2300, Ricoh 2500

4 Epson 1640 Scaners - SCSI

InFocus X2 projector

1 nVidia FX550 video card

and a whole box of C series spare parts

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Can you be more specific about 17 inch SLI. I always like to keep my eyes on the horizon.

I'm looking for a replacement 2.5" and larger than 100gb @ 7200rpm PATA drive for my C840, any suggestions. SATA drives appear to be the standard these days.



Even Dell has jumped on the laptop SLI bandwagon.

As for the drives, there is the 160GB and the 200GB 7200 RPM drives, but I don't know if an IDE version of them is available.

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  • 2 weeks later...

To follow up on my FX5500 PCI video card to CDock II nightmare. I proceeded to trash another CDock II. I fully checked the Dock out before installing the FX5500 card and all was fine. After installing the video card nothing ever appeared on the VGA CRT. I tried flipping all the BIOS switches. I removed the C810 and power from the dock and then removed the card only to find the Docks video, scsi ethernet and USB ports were fried. This is Dock #2 that this card has killed The video card still works fine in my desktop machine. Upon closer examination of the box and documentation shows that this is a no name card, manufacturer unknown but it has the Nvidia chip set on it. I now have ordered another Cdock and am looking for a BFG or PNY FX5500 pci video card. BEWARE of NO NAME/NO MANUFACTURER VIDEO CARDS, I'm pretty sure this no name video card killed both docks. I will post a follow up when and if I get this working


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  • 1 month later...

Follow-up for the folow-up

VICTORY, 256mb VRam running on a docked Latitude C810!

After smoking 2 docks with a noname video card I finally got this working. I ordered another dock and a BFG nvidia 5500FX card on ebay. I put the video card in the lower card slot in the dock. It looked like there might be a little more room to breath. I installed the drivers that came with the card on the notebook before I docked it. I also set the BIOS to "use docks video" and selected thorugh POST. After the drivers were installed I shut down and then docked the laptop. The card came up but winXP would not boot. I restarted again in safe mode and disabled the notebooks video card. start/control panel/system/hardware/device manager/display adapters/select/right click/ disable. I then shut down and rebooted XP normally. The card and XP came right up and my son was able to play his game. When he shuts down and un-docks his notebooks the internal nvidia video card automatically takes over This works very well and way worth the grief. I am using the PA6 power supply and I don't dear try running the notebooks LCD at the same time. When insatlling your card remember to remove power and the computer from the dock before installing the video card...

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hey there John, I'm just curious. What game was it that your son was so hot for? By the way, you forgot to mention if you had 2GB working.

Edited by Darmdorf
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  • 6 months later...
Guest john

I just installed 512x2 samsung sticks from ebay, running low on cash.

My son was playing civilization 4. He played it for about a week. It took me longer than that to get the video card working.

I just stopped by this site to refresh my memory/brain as to how I crow bared that 256mb video card into the cdock


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