[Tutorial] Windows 7 Done Right on the Dell Latitude D610

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[Tutorial] Windows 7 Done Right on the Dell Latitude D610

Post by notipa »

Dell states the Latitude D610 does not properly support Windows 7, and there is not too much official documentation on using Windows 7 with it. It will, however, run Windows 7 perfectly well. It will NOT run Windows 8, 8.1, or 10, and Windows should not offer the Get Windows 10 update to you.

Installation Preparation
The stock specifications for a Latitude D610 are usually not quite up to par for a Windows 7 system, unless your system was shipped with the more expensive options.

Most D610s do not have an optimal amount of memory; 512MB systems have too little capacity to be useful (Windows 7 will still install though), and 1GB systems will slow down noticeably when doing memory intensive tasks, such as web browsing. Ideally, you will want to max out the RAM capacity with two 1GB PC2-4200 (or faster) laptop DDR2 sticks, for a total of 2 GB. The memory will run 2:1 with the front-side bus, meaning the maximum transfer rate the northbridge will support is the 4200 speed (533 MT/s data rate); faster memory will run at the 4200 speed.

Hard Drive
After Windows Update, roughly 30 GB of hard drive space will be used. Roughly half of D610s shipped with hard drives under or including 40 GB, and these will need to be upgraded to ensure there is room for documents, programs, and Windows updates. If you have a lot of data to store, the 60GB hard drive is likely not enough. The Latitude D610 uses 2.5" IDE hard drives, which are commonly available in 80GB capacity for about $25. I have not tested this behavior extensively, but drives over 120GB may have issues with the BIOS; Windows overrides the BIOS and can access large drives. Such large drives, as typical with legacy interfaces, tend to be significantly more expensive.

Even the lowest-end 1.6 GHz Pentium M 730 is enough to run Windows 7 with usability; the D610 will accept 533 MHz FSB Pentium Ms and Celeron Ms. Core processors will NOT work with the D610, and 400 MHz FSB processors (older Pentium/Celeron Ms) do not appear to work. There is not a lot of range of CPU speed in the Pentium M line, so upgrading will have insignificant effects unless you have the 1.6 GHz model or a Celeron M. Celeron M D610s result from aftermarket downgrades, so it is rare to find one. There is no 64-bit processor available.

Windows Installation
Due to hard drive capacity issues, I strongly suggest you perform a clean installation of Windows 7 unless the drive is larger than 80GB. Installation can be started from either an installation DVD or a USB thumbdrive, but do note issues I have experienced when installing via thumbdrive. These instructions are for a clean installation, not preserving data -- upgrade installation varies significantly (though it is not nearly as difficult) and thus will not be covered in this tutorial.

Use the boot menu (F12) in the BIOS POST screen to boot to whatever boot device you are using to install Windows. After Windows loads its files, select Install Now, accept the EULA, and select Custom (Advanced) for the installation type. Delete existing partitions (your data disappears permanently after this!) and create a new partition with the default (maximum) size. Press 'Next' and Windows should begin to install. Let it do its thing, then follow the on-screen instructions until you arrive at the desktop.

Upon installation, most drivers are present. The Ethernet and Wi-Fi drivers are built into Windows 7, so no external networking drivers are needed. Despite the age of the laptop, there are some important drivers missing.

Display (ATI discrete graphics)
If you have the ATI Mobility Radeon x300, you should be able to run Aero through the Windows Vista driver provided by Dell, R153383. Extract the files, then run the installer in compatibility mode for Windows Vista SP2. Reboot your system, and enjoy.

Display (Intel chipset graphics)
If you do not have ATI discrete graphics, you have Intel GMA 900 chipset graphics. Let me preface this section with this: you will NOT be able to use Aero, and you will NEVER be able to use Aero. You are stuck with the Windows Basic theme. This is because the only driver available is based on the Windows XP display driver model (XPDM), and Aero requires the driver to use a newer driver model called Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM). Intel acknowledged that known limitations in the GMA 900 prevent it from being stable and/or reasonably fast, and thus never developed a WDDM driver for the GMA 900. The modded drivers out there are all fake and do not work; I have tested them and none have had any effect on Windows performance.

To install the GMA 900 driver, you'll need this file from Intel. Download the GMA 900 driver installer, and execute it in Windows XP compatibility mode. The driver will install, then reboot to complete installation.

I recommend receiving the modem driver through Windows Update, as installation is smoother. You can, however, use the Dell-provided driver R104087.

The audio bus is AC '97, so you won't be able to use the Audio Enhancements or jack detection features present in newer models (such as the D620). Use the Dell-provided driver R99254 for SigmaTel STAC 975X; extract the setup files, and you may want to run the installer in Windows Vista SP2 compatibility mode. I have not encountered problems using it without compatibility mode.

Smart Card Reader
The smart card reader is a Texas Instruments PCI 6515, and Dell provides the R165177 driver for this. It should work without using compatibility mode on the driver, as it is designed for Windows Vista.

Trusted Platform Module
If you have reason to enable your TPM (disable it if you do not), you can use the Dell-provided driver R99394. I believe Windows 7 includes a driver for this, so installing this may not be necessary. I have my TPM disabled, and thus I have not verified whether a driver is needed.

Disk space is going to be your biggest concern. After installation and Windows Update, run the Disk Cleanup utility and select "Clean up system files". Delete shadow copies and restore points (you shouldn't need them), then clean up the selected files. Manually delete the files in the %TEMP% folder.

Windows Update takes a long time to run (in the 12 hour range), and the system will be running at 100% CPU usage nonstop during this period. A patch was released to attempt to fix this, KB3102810. I have encountered issues with installing updates after installing this patch, but detection was fast and it allowed me to install drivers. If you have your system running in a 100% CPU usage state, ensure it is able to adequately cool itself, especially if you have discrete graphics. Clean your heatsink vents regularly, and monitor temperatures with a utility such as I8kfanGUI or CoreTemp. If you use I8kfanGUI, don't change the fan control mode unless you know what you're doing.

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