The quest for Upgrade - Part 1

Some background before the juicy meat
Background - History
Two years and half ago my previous laptop broke in the middle of the winter holidays. Tragedy! I was in rush to complete some work (translation: to play a lot of games instead of work) so I did some research for a new computer. I was really bored of the common brands and I decided to avoid the usual shitty laptops found in commerce. Specifically I'm talking about the worst of the worst: Acer (and it's subcompany Packard Bell), HP and Asus.
To be honest Asus gaming series are quite good but their models are too random: sometimes they make very good equipment of good quality and sometimes crappy crippled rubbish.

My research leads me to discover the jungle behind the laptop companies. There are many brands that create proper gaming laptop like Alienware (bought a few years ago by Dell), MSi, Asus and the incredibly ugly (but damn powerful) Eurocom. I found many independent or simply unknow companies that rebrand Alienware, MSi and Asus laptop like SagerPC, Xotic and a few more I don't really remember.
There is also Clevo which I'll describe later in this article for the graphic cards but I found no shops that sells their PC and their website seems designed for resellers rather then for the direct consumer.

Anyawy a gaming laptop is possible: there is no way you can have the power of a standard desktop computer and the cost is higher but if you are a gypsy like me there are opportunities out there. I personally changed city three times in the last 7 years and I use my laptop at work: I'm used to bring my own computer at the office everyday... so it must be a laptop.

In the end I decided to buy my wonderful MSi GT-663. I'm really glad of this choice.

Background - Upgrading: is it possible?
The choice of this brand and model was focused on the components rather then the possibility of mod my computer but MSi (gaming) laptop are designed to be modded. I really don't know if it's designed this way or just contingency but MSi gaming laptops are moddable, as well as laptops from Alienware, Eurocom, a few Asus models and all derivates (Xotic, Sager and so on).

After two years I decided to check if it's possible to upgrade my laptop, how, where to find components, how much they cost etc.
Until a few years ago upgrading a laptop was just a fantasy.

Background - Moddabily: what components?
I will referer, from now on, only to my MSi computer but gaming laptop form Alienware and Eurocom share similarities (though they have different pieces) so those can be modded as well.
The engineers at MSi created and used a single model of motherboard, the MS-16F1, for all their GT series (as I know they still use this motherboard in different variations), this means every newer model is somewhat compatible with the precedent.

Is is possibile upgrade the Hard Disk?
Some models mount two Hard Drive instead of a single one with a RAID controller. This means my laptop have two slots for an additional Hard Disk (in my model that slot was empty).
So hard disks are upgradable and thanks to the SATA standard I had no problem to get the hard disk from my previous Asus and attach it to my laptop. I will have no problems for the immediate future as well (I plan to buy a SSD drive).
Any laptop brand allow to upgrade the hard disk, it's the easiest piece that can be upgraded.

What about CPU?
A good news for everyone: the CPU is upgradable in every laptop, regardless the brand. Solder a CPU to the motherboard is a terribad idea infact no one does it.
For example I had a very old laptop with an Intel 386, black/white screen with the resolution of a watch, no hard disk at all (the system worked only through floppy disks): the cpu was not soldered. So if you see a laptop with soldered CPU well... it's beyond indecency. I don't even know if it's possible to solder the CPU.
CPU is upgradable. Let's move forward.

And the Graphic Card?
Fear and confusion!
A bad news for the mere mortals: the GPU is soldered on the motherboard. This means there is no way you can upgrade your GPU in laptops of the common brands (Acer, HP and the other shitties).
So what?

Background - The mana from the sky:
MXM slots.
A few years back some company invented the MXM standard for the mobile GPUs. I strongly reccomend to read the Wikipedia page on MXM.
The MXM slots made mod possible. But you have to understand something: these slots were not made to let users upgrade their computer (who care about the users anyway?) but to improve the support centers because they had to change the whole motherboard, oftenly with many other components, if the GPU was broken and viceversa.
But the side offect is that we can use the MXM standard.

So here the theory: any MXM card is compatible with motherboards that support the very same MXM standard. You cannot use a MXM-2.0 card in a MXM-3.0 slot, not even a 3.0 with a 3.0b (latest standard as far as I know) and viceversa.
Here is the practice: Asus have a non-standard compilant MXM cards, Toshiba as well.
Another theory (for example): you can use Alienware cards in a MSi computer and viceversa.
Another practice: you cannot. While you can attach the card and most probably it works the size of the heatplate will not fit your chassis. Although my (new) card is a Clevo GTX-675MX and now it's inside my wonderful MSI GT-663 replacing the old MSI GT-460M.


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