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W530 Upgrades

W530/W540/W541/W550 Series
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W530 Upgrades

#1 Post by thealphaoverseer » Wed Jul 01, 2020 4:02 am

Hi Everyone!
Now that I have gotten the hang of my W530, I feel like I should do what Thinkpads are known for: upgradeability! I've decided I'm going to keep it for a while, so I'm planning long-term. The i7-3940XM looks pretty competitive even next to the Ice and Comet Lake i7s, however, I've also heard Xeon is possible. Does anyone have any experience with these CPUs? Any idea where to get them from? My budget is around 100-120 USD, which includes the selling price of the current i7-3740QM.
[EDIT] 8GB of RAM isn't much, so I'm also looking forward to upgrading that. Is it DDR3L SO DIMM? Any SSD is compatible, right?

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Re: W530 Upgrades

#2 Post by cadillacmike68 » Sun Aug 09, 2020 10:33 pm

I would max out the RAM to 32GB before changing the CPU.

Most normal SSDs will work. The folks more experienced with SSDs can chime in.
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Re: W530 Upgrades

#3 Post by atagunov » Mon Aug 10, 2020 2:02 pm

thealphaoverseer wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 4:02 am
I've also heard Xeon is possible
W530 is still a notebook.. They're meant to be mobile. Wouldn't being modest with CPU wattage be conductive to maintaining a reasonably long battery life?
Should also help you prevent a thermal melt-down in the system. :)

P.S. I'd be surprised if you found a reasonably modern 2.5" SSD that wouldn't work just fine. BTW I believe my T520 rather surprisingly has got a 9mm HDD compartment which means that modern 7mm SSD-s ideally need to be installed via specially shaped rubber "rails". Well you should check what you got, maybe you already have them.. if W530 also has a 9mm compartment. Obviously there are work-arounds if right rails are not available. Sorry don't know about DDR3L vs DDR3. I would think DDR3 should work, less sure about L. The shape is definitely an SO-DIMM..

P.P.S. Definitely do start with RAM and SSD. In truth I always planned to but never got around to upgrading my CPU-s. Somehow stock ones usually do not disappoint me. My personal experience with RAM is 8Gb is fine without virtual machines and 16Gb is fine so long as you have just one. I'd love to have 32Gb, just to show off!
X220, 2 *T520

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Re: W530 Upgrades

#4 Post by MikalE » Mon Aug 10, 2020 6:42 pm

Early T5XX series really benefit from max RAM and SSD's. Probably more than anything else. My T500 runs nearly as well as my T520. My two T510's I've not really fooled with except to max out the ram. Both are still running spinner drives. Those two don't get used as much as the T500 and T520.

There is a definite noticeable difference in performance just from these two upgrades. I usually do the processor last, if at all. But I usually do eventually.
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Re: W530 Upgrades

#5 Post by TinkerMan » Wed Aug 12, 2020 7:51 am

the i7 3740QM is already a decent performer, the 3940XM is a bit overkill, price wise at 180-200 bucks, the best bang for buck is the 3840 QM, almost as powerful as the XM cpus but at just 135 bucks.
but before you sink your money into CPUs go for more memory and some SSDs
I have 32gigs of corsair vengence 4x8GB dimms, i installed an mSATA ssd where i keep my old win 7 partition, on the standard sata drive i have another SSD where i keep the win 10 installation, and to top it over i have a third SSD in the ultra bay which i use for storage. Once the thinkmods will launch its product i will installed a 4th drive into the 34mm express card expantion slot.
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Re: W530 Upgrades

#6 Post by WizardOfBoz » Wed Aug 12, 2020 10:45 pm

Tinkerman is spot on.

I've been doing hi-tech engineering consulting for years with a 3840qm W530, 32Gb, and an SSD (arguably too expensive: a Samsung 850 Pro 500Gb). I bought memory that allowed me to run the memory a little faster (XMP memory, which may just be purchasing the next fastest specification of memory). And I did a BIOS jailbreak (1vyrain - look it up) which allowed me to install a pretty fast wifi card (AC-7260). Faster than what the whitelist allowed, anyway.

The W530 has a G2 socket. This limits your options (no Xeons). Putting a 39X0-XM in maxes out at 55W instead of the 3840qm at 45W. So you have thermal management (which can shorten the machine lilfetime) AND battery life to think about. Here's what I'd do:

Depending on your current memory or hard drive SSD state, I'd attack the weak link. If you only have 4 or 8gb of memory, get 32Gb (4 sticks of 8Gb, all identical). If you have a 200Gb HDD, get a 500Gb SSD. I like Samsung. The 860 Evos are nice.

If you have the skills and confidence, use the 1vyrain jailbreak to eliminate the whitelists.

If you really want to spend 130 bucks for a 3840, do that. Make sure you buy heat transfer paste, and have a lot of paper towels and isopropanol to clean things.

Any fooling around with BIOS, or goofing around with your laptops innards involves risk, which you accept.

Last, I'd point out that the graphics chips in the W530 are ball grid array (BGA - they're soldered in). There's no feasible or at least reasonable upgrade path for the graphics chip. So balance things: don't spend $600 bucks on a machine with K1000M graphics.

There are indeed great machines. But they ain't ever gonna be a quad CPU Xeon running 88 cores and 256Gb of RAM with a RAID array of 1Tb SDDs.

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Re: W530 Upgrades

#7 Post by gma » Mon Sep 21, 2020 4:15 am

I'm probably too late to chime in for the OP, but for the benefit of anybody else reading this...

I concur with the advice above; adding RAM and putting a modern SSD in are great bang for buck.

I'd pay particular attention to the speed of the SSD, as this will improve most real-world use. I benchmarked the SSDs that came in my x30 series laptops (I've got a few) and found that the maximum read speed was in the ~100MB/s region (possibly as high as 125MB/s, I forget precisely). Write speeds were slower.

I would often notice that multiple CPU cores were entering the wait state during periods of high I/O. What this means is that the CPU cores were trying to do work in parallel, but were having to wait for the drive to catch up.

I spotted this when I wrote a script to automate downloading a couple of hundred MB of Linux software, and the Linux kernel source. My quad core (8 thread) W530 would take 12 minutes to run it, but my dual core (4 thread) X230 (with a Samsung Evo 860 SSD) could do it in 6 minutes 30 seconds.

Replacing the W530's drive with another Evo 860 put the W530 back on top. I forget how long the task took after the upgrade, but it would have been at least as fast as the X230's time.

If any of you are on Linux and want to monitor your `iowait` states, the glances program is a nice way to monitor it. It can show you a summary over all cores, or show you how much time each core is spending waiting for I/O.

In terms of the amount of RAM you need, I did put 32GB in mine, but I very rarely use more than 16GB. I think I've seen it use more than 16GB twice. So check how much RAM the apps that you use tend to need, unless you're happy to just pay the extra for maxing it out.

Oh, and I also considered the CPU upgrades. In the end I stuck with the 2.7GHz 3740QM. It's surprisingly quick (quicker than my i7-3770T desktop, which really surprised me).
T23, X230 with FHD, T430, W530

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