This Dell laptop can be fixed at home with minimal effort. Also, you will need to get some tools like:
• A silver or gold processor heat sink paste,
• Two 2GB or 4GB RAM (memory) modules,
• Philips screwdriver,
• A plastic card,
• Windows 10 installation disk,
• Memtest disk to test memory.
This is what we are going to do. The first we will replace processor heat sink paste. Then we will clean the fan. After this, we will upgrade memory.
If this will step does not help, we will check hard drive health, and if it’s in good health, we will reinstall Windows. If the hard drive is faulty, we will need to save all data and get a new replacement hard drive or SSD (solid state drive). I recommend getting an SSD as it will make the laptop boot faster and run faster.
We will start from processor heat sink paste. We will remove the bottom cover from the laptop. Here we will find what we are looking for – a heat sink fitted with four screws. We will unscrew them and also disconnect a cable that goes to the fan.
Now it is time to clean the sink and the processor. Here I have used a plastic card and cotton ear buds. Let's make it clean and shiny. Make sure you are not leaving any bits that can prevent the heat sink from touching the processor.
Now, we are applying some heat sink paste on the shiny surface. I apply it only to one surface. There is another smaller chip, but if the laptop does not have a dedicated graphics card that chip rarely gets hot, I am leaving as it is.
Now putting all parts together. What we have done will fix the processor overheating problem caused by dried up heat sink paste.
Now it is time to upgrade our memory. I have in the laptop one module of 2GB and have a new module that also is 2GB. So, I will upgrade it by 2GB or double the memory amount. This should make the laptop significantly faster.
If the laptop is still slow and behaves strangely, I will check the hard drive with GSmartControl. It’s a free program; you can download it from here.
There is another option using Dell SupportAssist, run the full test and test the hard drive. But I am not a fan of SupportAssist as once I tested a faulty hard drive with it and the first time it indicated no error. Just when I ran it for the second time, it told me there is something wrong with the hard drive.
When we start GSmartControl, it shows a drive list.
Choose the drive in the laptop as a main hard drive. Usually, there is only one drive so choose that one.
The first tab will be General information. We need to click on the Attributes tab.
The Attributes tab looks kind of complicated, but we do not need even understand something in there. We just need to know one thing - if there are no red lines here, it means everything is fine. That’s easy, isn’t.
I have here red lines in the Error tab. However, it’s strange as those errors occurred a long time ago. I think I will ignore these warnings. Some warnings, which are not in Attributes tab you can simply ignore. Those errors can occur if the laptop has been dropped for example and the software would register it an error. But we know it’s not the hard drives fault – we dropped the laptop.
The self-test shows no errors so I will ignore those warnings.
Now if the hard drive is in good health, I will reinstall Windows 10. This will help to get rid of any viruses in there.
Also, it will help to get rid of all unnecessary files that Windows accumulates.
You can get Windows 10 installation disk from online. Look for the one that says is for Dell computers. Then you will not need to activate Windows as it will activate itself automatically online.
As a truly last resort, you can do at home is to test memory and hard drive with an inbuilt test.
When you power on the laptop hit F12 key a few times. Pressing this key will bring up a boot menu. This boot menu has an option called Diagnostics. Choose this option with arrow keys.
The laptop will boot to a test mode and automatically perform short tests. You may get warnings about batteries just click YES.
When it finishes short test select Thorough Test Mode in the left bottom corner and double click Memory, it should run a longer memory test.
After it finishes testing the double memory click the hard drive icon, the hard drive test should be long, an hour or so.
If you feel you make it worse and the laptop is still slow and misbehaving better to give it to an engineer.
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