Upgrading my E4300

Two years is quite a long time for me to keep a computer, but this Dell has lasted surprisingly well. It lags a bit in the 3D graphics department, but CPU wise it’s still perfectly acceptable and 4gb of ram is still a decent amount. And the 13″ form factor is perfect for my needs.

One of the major advantages of business models is the long product life cycle, which means an ample supply of spare parts and accessories. In the case of the Dell E series the docking stations and some of the other accessories are compatible with all other E series laptops. The greater amount of resources that go into the design and the higher build quality are also apparent – once you’ve had a good business laptop it’s hard to go back to disposable consumer machines!

Recently I’ve had a few gripes with it however:

  • The lack of bluetooth has become an inconvenience as the E4300 is chronically short of USB ports. Two really isn’t enough, and I want to get a bluetooth mouse to free up one of them.
  • I moved to the UK last year and the USA keyboard layout lacks the keys for € and £ symbols.
  • The fan started to buzz loudly now and again about six months ago. It was relatively infrequent and only annoyed me perhaps once a week, but it was a sure sign that the bearings were on the way out.

When the fan finally outright stalled I was able to get it to move again after a rest, but I decided it was time to kill 3 pigs with 1 bird and give the old girl a new lease of life.

I picked up the following parts on ebay:

  • Backlit UK keyboard DW466 (new) – £25
  • Dell Wireless 365 module (new) – £14
  • Dell cooling fan WM598 (used) – £14
  • HDD caddy for Dell E series 4300 4310 (new) – £8.28

Total cost: £61.28

I didn’t intentionally buy a used fan, it did say used in the description but somehow I bought the wrong one from my watch list. Normally cooling fans are one thing you want to ensure is brand new, but the sample that arrived was in excellent condition with a nice spring in its rotation so I decided to use it.

Armed with the above parts, some small screwdrivers and the Dell E4300 service manual in the web browser of my Nexus S, I then set about disassembling the machine.

I didn’t intend on documenting the process at first, and only took photos for my own reference so I could put the thing back together. As a result my laptop is filthy and the picture quality is quite poor, but I hope other E4300 owners with similar ambitions will find them informative.

Removing the top panel

Keyboard off

Removing screen hinge screws

Screen connector

Antenna connectors - disconnect 3 on right before removing screen

Removed screws from base

Removing screws from palm rest. Manual says to detach 7 (!) cables but I'm pretty sure I only had 5.

Palm rest detached

About to insert bluetooth module - it goes beneath the circuit board to the right of the gold cable

Old cooling fan

Bluetooth module installed

Cooling fan removed

New fan installed

Putting it back together

Success!

Leftover...

2 thoughts on “Upgrading my E4300

    1. Alex Post author

      Thanks! This post was two years ago and at the time I said two years is a long time for me to keep a laptop… and I’m writing this comment on the very same machine. But it really is getting time to upgrade.

      SSD upgrade is well worthwhile though, it’ll feel like a new machine.

      Reply

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