I've had my inspiron 9300 laptop for a little over four years now. I can still use it for most of the things I like to do, but i just got a new HDTV and I'd love to be able to playback 1080p video from this thing. I can just barely do 720p playback as it is (CPU utilization is in between 80-90% usually) but 1080p is in another league. If I could upgrade the laptop to the point where it did that, it'd probably be worth it as I could probably go another 2-3 years without buying my next laptop as long as this one holds up. Here are my i9300's current specs:
1.73 GhZ Pentium M 740
1 GB DDR2 @ 266 MhZ
NVIDIA GeForce Go 6800
From what i've gathered this is about as far as the laptop can be upgraded:
2.26 GhZ Pentium M 780
2 GB DDR2 @ 533 MhZ
NVIDIA GeForce Go 7800 GTX
I'd also need to do some work to allow it to put up with the extra heat, but this type of upgrade seems to have been done many times in the past.
It doesn't look like any CUDA support goes as far back as these cards unfortunately. Since I don't have a computer that's capable of 1080p playback in the first place, I don't know what to compare it against so I guess I'd be happy if anyone could take an educated guess either way whether the above upgrades would be enough. If not, i might just buy a laptop sometime next year.
Upgrading it would honestly cost as much as a new laptop. Notebook parts (especially that 7800 GTX) are quite expensive, and that Pentium M isn't that great anyways. I'd just wait and get a new laptop.