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The tale of my ratty old Dell Latitude E6430s


This laptop was almost dead. I fixed it.

There are two computers I use primarily, both of which are old Dell Latitude laptops from the 2012 era. One is a 6430s and another which is a 6430.

The 6430s, which is the one I'll be talking about, is the first one I acquired in '16. The second with a slightly faster CPU was acquired in '19.

One would assume the 6430s and 6430 are the same machine. They are not. In fact, they are drastically different under the hood as I found out.

The story is basically this:

Both my laptops started making fan noises due to age. Okay, no problem, just take out the fan and lubricate. Easy, right?

Well, on the 6430, it is. The entire fan and heat sink can be removed where you can not only oil the fan but also apply new thermal paste for the CPU. Unscrew the back, pop off the cover, 4 more screws and you're there. It's a quick and easy job.

On the 6430s however, total nightmare.

There is absolutely no way to get to the fan and heat sink assembly from the rear. Not possible. It has to be done from the top. But hang on, it gets better. The rear cover has to be removed, the keyboard and palm rest have to be removed, and motherboard detached. Takes something like 25 screws to get to do all this, crack off the rear, crack off the keyboard bezel, crack off the palm rest, don't break any ribbon cables and a whole bunch of other crap. And oh, what a joy this is to do with plastics that are over 10 years old.

Yeah, it is that bad just to get to the CPU fan.

I was two steps away from throwing the laptop out, because even after all the disassembly I still couldn't get the thing out of there. But just before I threw in the towel, I gave it one more go and managed to wriggle out that heat sink and fan assembly.

Once I finally got that stupid fan out, I took off the fan cover (4 tiny screws including one hidden by a rubber piece), popped off the blades and then I could finally lubricate the stupid thing.

For now, the E6430s is saved. It now works again.

My E6430s has not been treated well and not aged well. It's been banged around, the LCD is dim, the plastics are degrading, the rubber covering on top of the palm rest is sticky from age, there are chips of plastic missing here and there, and regardless of how well I clean it, it always looks gross.

Why don't I just replace the fan and heat sink? Because I absolutely don't want to put any money in this thing, given its condition. It works and that's what matters.

My E6430s's sole purpose in life right now is as a Windows 11 machine just so I can do Garmin GPS and OpenStreetMap map generation things on it. And for that task, it gets the job done.

Why bother hanging on to old computers when new laptops can be bought easily for under $300?

Answer: I have everything set up the way I want on both machines and I don't feel like configuring new computers. Also, because I keep my OSes clean, they run quick. In addition, both Windows and Linux really like older Dell Latitude laptops. You are never hunting for drivers with a Latitude that's a few years old. Everything detects and everything works.

On an end note, yeah, a 10-year-old Latitude can run Windows 11 easily because it does have the secure boot and TPM Win11 requires to install. It's right there in the BIOS. Boot up, tap F12, into BIOS, enable Secure Boot and TPM, install Win11 and you're good to go.

Published 2023 Jul 13

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