Making Use of an old HP Laptop?

AntiHypocrite

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My wife has HP laptops issued to her from work. She just received a brand new HP laptop issued to her, which leaves us with (2) HP laptops that are collecting dust.

These machines also come loaded up with all manner of proprietary software that we don't have any use for at home, so the idea is to remove the storage device from an unused laptop, store it in an antistatic bag and replace it with one of our own. After that's been accomplished, we would ideally like to load a version of Windows 10 on the machine and press on from there....and, if the laptop in question is ever recalled, we will simply replace the original storage device and return it.

The redundant machine we would like to work with is basically described as follows:
HP ProBook 440 G8
CPU: 11th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7 @ 2.40GHz
RAM: 16MB DDR4 PC4-25600 SODIMM DUAL RANK
STORAGE: 256GB PCIE NVMe CL1

My question is just how proprietary HP makes their ProBook laptops?

In other words, we've already found the exact replacement storage device for this machine -- at a very good price -- but, back in my PC building days (in the 90s), nothing was ever as easy as expected, so I guess I'm wondering if our goal is even possible? I'd also like to know if HP laptops are upgradeable? I've seen larger PCIE NVMe storage "drives" for sale that appear to fit into this machine's motherboard, but, once again, the "HP" logo gives me pause.

The point is that, if the internals can be replaced or upgraded, we have a real possibility of gaining a laptop for very little money. If anyone has experience with the internals of HP laptops, I'd certainly appreciate thoughts on this.

Thank you kindly for your time
 
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tcsenter

Lifer
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HP ProBooks in 14+ class almost always have upgradeable RAM and storage. This appears to have a socketed CPU so even that might be upgradeable. On most laptops, it's usually the WLAN and WAN modules that, though the interface/connector is completely standard, are restricted via whitelist in BIOS/UEFI to parts that were shipped/approved by the manufacturer for any given family/model.

Illustrated parts guide with photos (internal and external): http://h10032.www1.hp.com/ctg/Manual/c06974367.pdf

Maintenance and Service Guide: http://h10032.www1.hp.com/ctg/Manual/c06955910.pdf
 
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AntiHypocrite

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Thank you for the kind response. tcsenter.

The factory stock HP ProBook laptop in question has an open RAM slot and a 16MB module installed. Do you happen to know if the RAM boards used by HP are compatible with aftermarket RAM modules? I apologize if this seems like an elementary question to you, but, if the factory RAM module is compatible with aftermarket RAM, we could end up with 32MB of RAM by purchasing a single compatible 16MB module, which is a very nice upgrade.

Thanks again for your time
 
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sdifox

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Aren't you supposed to return work laptops? If not you could turn it into a pfsense box with the addition of USB network card.
 
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tcsenter

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Memory modules used by the major OEM computer companies (for all systems except perhaps specialty stuff, enterprise and HPC) are not proprietary. It appears that may change with DDR5 in some systems from Dell, maybe others. But for your HP, standard aftermarket memory of the recommended or same type/speed should work fine.

If you just want to acquire one module, you could check the current module for a label with the manufacturer's type and speed markings. NOT the HP part or spare number (that will be something like 13L75AA, 13L75AT, L67710-002), but the manufacturer of the module and/or chips. e.g. Samsung, SK-Hynix, Micron, Elixir, et. al. Look on that label (if present) for the module specifications for rank organization and speed, like:

16GB DDR4-3200 (or PC4-25600)
1R or 2R x 8 (or x 16)

Sometimes, the module label does not specify one or more of these specs. In that case, you can just search by compatible HP part numbers 13L75AA, 13L75AT, L67710-002. Going price as of this post for a used 16GB DDR4-3200 SO-DIMM appears to be about US$50 shipped, while brand new for $5 more. Worse case if you can't easily find the same # chips, rank organization, and JEDEC timings, memory controllers are very robust/flexible these days and can usually handle mixing of different modules with no problem, albeit often at reduced performance.
 

AntiHypocrite

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Aren't you supposed to return work laptops? If not you could turn it into a pfsense box with the addition of USB network card.
That's the point here. They don't ask for them back and, quite frankly, they seem to be leaving "disposal" to the user. We both understand that they could ask for the redundant laptops at any time; hence, my mentioning saving their storage device just in case.
 

tcsenter

Lifer
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I would update the UEFI/BIOS before swapping drives, installing more RAM, and newly installing W10/11, if not already up-to-date.

BTW where does your wife work where they retire such nice 11th gen Core HP ProBooks so quickly, and don't ask for them back? Are they hiring? Sheesh!
 
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AntiHypocrite

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The machine presently has Windows 10 installed, behind their security "walls," but that's the idea behind replacing the storage PCB and storing away the original board. We simply want to put a redundant machine to home use until they ask for the machine again...and, quite frankly, I'm pretty surprised that anyone can do anything with these ultralight machines. Compared to the MacBook Pro that I'm typing on right now, the HP feels like an aluminum box filled with cotton balls.
 

AntiHypocrite

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I would update the UEFI/BIOS before swapping drives, installing more RAM, and newly installing W10/11, if not already up-to-date.

BTW where does your wife work where they retire such nice 11th gen Core HP ProBooks so quickly, and don't ask for them back? Are they hiring? Sheesh!
tcsenter: Do you think this particular HP laptop machine can run Windows 11? I'm a Mac user these days, so all things Windows are fairly foreign to me now. The last PC "tower" that I built ran via XP.
 

AntiHypocrite

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Okay, after doing the research and watching videos showing the process, I removed the bottom cover of the HP ProBook 440 G8, disconnected the storage battery and removed both the RAM module PCB and the Storage PCB.

Here's what I was able to observe about each PCB...

RAM Module PCB:
Micron by Crucial (Made In China)
MTA8ATF2G64HZ-3G2E2 2049
16GB 1RX8 PC4-3200AA-SA2-11
DPAQEB0001
OTHER NOTES - (4) ICs on each side of PCB

Storage PCB/SSD:
Solid State Technology Corporation (Made in Taiwan)
CT: UKFCN01ZTEI1X2
Model: CL1-8D256-HP
HP PN: L64784-002
Solid State Drive
CL1 256GB PCIe NVMe
PSID: 4L2Y1P8D-LRWQK3CW
OTHER NOTES - DC Power 3.3V 2.0A

EDIT: After much research, I was finally able to find a comprehensive data sheet for the SOLID STATE TECHNOLOGY CORPORATION (aka, Lite-On) CL1 series of NVMe PCie SSDs and, consequently, I was able to verify the form factor of the factory-installed SSD as being M.2 2280. As you can see (above) this data does not appear on the SSD itself and, being a long-time Mac user, I had absolutely no idea about the actual size of the SSD that our HP ProBook 440 G8 laptop came with. Anyway, I'm adding it to this previous post for archive purposes.

I'm updating this thread with the actual data taken from the internal printed circuit boards (PCBs) and checking into whether or not anything new can be learned via this new information?

Any information we can get about replacing these factory-installed PCBs with aftermarket PCBs or, in the case of the RAM Module, whether or not a suitable aftermarket RAM PCB will work in tandem with the factory RAM PCB would be much appreciated.

Thanks very much for your time


 
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tcsenter

Lifer
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There are currently several "MTA8ATF2G64HZ" modules on Ebay for $50 to $60. e.g. Ebay Item # 353805047553 is the cheapest I could find from reputable seller as of this post. Any SSD drive should be supported as long as it is:

Type - M.2 (not SATA)
Form Factor - 2280 or shorter = length of board
Interface - NVMe PCIE

Solid State Technology Corporation = Lite-On Corporation (major supplier of peripherals and devices to OEM)
 
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AntiHypocrite

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There are currently several "MTA8ATF2G64HZ" modules on Ebay for $50 to $60. e.g. Ebay Item # 353805047553 is the cheapest I could find from reputable seller as of this post. Any SSD drive should be supported as long as it is:
Type - M.2 (not SATA)
Form Factor - 2280 or shorter = length of board
Interface - NVMe PCIE

Solid State Technology Corporation = Lite-On Corporation (major supplier of peripherals and devices to OEM)
Would you mind elaborating on what is meant by "M.2 (not SATA)." I've researched this storage SSD, for example, and it seems to fit all the criteria I've read in this thread except that it's described by Crucial as being in the SATA category. In fact, I initially found this particular SSD by employing the "Upgrade my computer" link -- at the top of the page the link (above) takes you to -- I went through the various options until I had entered HP ProBook 440 G8, which brought me to a page that displays the following message:

Crucial Upgrade SSDs 060222.png
As you can see, clicking on the "Compatible SSD" button/control will take you to SSD options that are under the heading of "SATA drives." Once again, the Crucial P2 1TB PCIe M.2 2280SS SSD that is found via the link (above) seems to be a pretty good option, but the fact that Crucial placed it under the "SATA" category is pretty confusing to a long-time Mac user.

As ever, thank you for your time.
 
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tcsenter

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The 1TB drive linked is correct M.2 drive, it is not SATA. I don't know why Crucial's website offers the choice of SATA drives, other than an error on their part. The laptop has no SATA connectors.
 
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AntiHypocrite

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...If not you could turn it into a pfsense box with the addition of USB network card.
@sdifox : Would you kindly elaborate on this suggestion? Are you saying that you've converted an older laptop into a firewall/router?

You see, we used to build our own PCs. Admittedly, they were the massive "towers" with monitors that took up way too much space, but that issue paled in comparison to the main problem we suffered with on a regular basis back in our PC days: malware infections and generally slow processing. In fact, this is why we made the switch to Mac OS X over a decade ago.

Anyway, now that we're seriously considering adding a PC laptop to our personal computing equipment, knowing how to effectively keep a PC safe from internet attacks is of great interest to us.

Thanks for your time
 

sdifox

No Lifer
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@sdifox : Would you kindly elaborate on this suggestion? Are you saying that you've converted an older laptop into a firewall/router?

You see, we used to build our own PCs. Admittedly, they were the massive "towers" with monitors that took up way too much space, but that issue paled in comparison to the main problem we suffered with on a regular basis back in our PC days: malware infections and generally slow processing. In fact, this is why we made the switch to Mac OS X over a decade ago.

Anyway, now that we're seriously considering adding a PC laptop to our personal computing equipment, knowing how to effectively keep a PC safe from internet attacks is of great interest to us.

Thanks for your time
What is your current router? Does it have Access point mode? If it does, you just turn that into AP, and use one laptop as pfsense box. You will need two ethernet ports. Also, you could get an external ssd and run pfsense off that. You don't need to upgrade ram either.

I run pfsense in a VM hosted on a Power Edge R710 server. But nothing stops you from running it on a laptop other than needing two NICs.

You can realistically turn the laptop into a vm host and run pfsense in one vm and plex in another. Your cpu is powerful enough to do both at the same time.

You can try pfsense by installing it to a usb stick.
 
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AntiHypocrite

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What is your current router? Does it have Access point mode? If it does, you just turn that into AP, and use one laptop as pfsense box. You will need two ethernet ports. Also, you could get an external ssd and run pfsense off that. You don't need to upgrade ram either.

I run pfsense in a VM hosted on a Power Edge R710 server. But nothing stops you from running it on a laptop other than needing two NICs.

You can realistically turn the laptop into a vm host and run pfsense in one vm and plex in another. Your cpu is powerful enough to do both at the same time.
To preface, I'm no networking expert, so most of the network-related acronyms will probably sail right over my head. I've also been out of the PC world for over a decade, so that doesn't help, either. ;)

Here's a router we purchased last year: Asus RT-AX86U

We purchased it because we moved into a new [to us] home in the mountains that, believe it or not, had zero high speed internet, so we had to use the local yocal town owned and operated cable service to get internet access. Anyway, the modem they supplied was very basic and provided modem functionality only. The wireless router part was up to the customer; hence, the Asus router named above.

What is "Access Point Mode"?

When you write "two ethernet ports," do you mean that the laptop must have two RJ-45 receptacles installed?

As we certainly don't have RJ-45 receptacles in our redundant laptops, I should ask whether or not there's an external device that gives a laptop PC the same capability?
 

sdifox

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To preface, I'm no networking expert, so most of the network-related acronyms will probably sail right over my head. I've also been out of the PC world for over a decade, so that doesn't help, either. ;)

Here's a router we purchased last year: Asus RT-AX86U

We purchased it because we moved into a new [to us] home in the mountains that, believe it or not, had zero high speed internet, so we had to use the local yocal town owned and operated cable service to get internet access. Anyway, the modem they supplied was very basic and provided modem functionality only. The wireless router part was up to the customer; hence, the Asus router named above.

What is "Access Point Mode"?

When you write "two ethernet ports," do you mean that the laptop must have two RJ-45 receptacles installed?

As we certainly don't have RJ-45 receptacles in our redundant laptops, I should ask whether or not there's an external device that gives a laptop PC the same capability?
your laptop has a Ethernet port
1654296394109.png

the one on the left is Ethernet, just collapsible clip. You can get a usb Ethernet adapter, but it looks like usb nics don't really work that well with pfsense. someone has put Sophos (another software firewall) inside a promox vm and got it to work with usb ethernet adapter since it is virtualised.
asus rt-ax86u should have access point mode. All it means is it turns off the firewall and router portion and just act as a wifi provider.
 
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AntiHypocrite

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@sdifox : Thanks for adding the nice photo of the ports on the HP laptop we have in mind. Now that I see that we have an ethernet port to work with, would you kindly elaborate on what the port to the right of it is used for? It looks like it had multiple functionality symbols next to it. I know that this can be looked up [which I did] but what type of device would you typically use that port for?
 

sdifox

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@sdifox : Thanks for adding the nice photo of the ports on the HP laptop we have in mind. Now that I see that we have an ethernet port to work with, would you kindly elaborate on what the port to the right of it is used for? It looks like it had multiple functionality symbols next to it. I know that this can be looked up [which I did] but what type of device would you typically use that port for?
Should be USB 3.1 with charging function.

 
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AntiHypocrite

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Well, I've learned a lot from this thread, but we still haven't managed to find just the right PCIe NVMe M.2 2280 SSD stick for our laptop project.

It has been suggested that we should at least think about using Gen 4 storage memory for this machine because, as I understand it, it could be used down the road with a newer CPU (or with a newer machine perhaps). Based on my reading, some of the Gen 3 storage memory was expensive to manufacture, but it was also more durable than the newer Gen 4 memory. The Samsung 970 Pro Gen 3 memory (1TB), for example, is specified herein as having twice the expected lifespan as the newer Samsung 980 Pro Gen 4 storage memory PCB.

I have no doubt that, in real world use, the Gen 4 storage memory will function faster than the Gen 3 memory, but we will be using the machine in question for a lot of multichannel audio, video and high-resolution photography storage, so we're not the typical office type users. We have more than one relatively large (2TB) archive HDD here, for example, that is stuffed full of this kind of data. The point is that we use a lot of memory, which is why we've been looking for a NVMe M.2 SSD memory stick that's at least 1TB in size.

Naturally, faster/shorter processing time is a great feature when it comes to any type of computer work, but we have to think about durability as well. Bearing this in mind, I thought that I'd ask the NVMe M.2 SSD memory users on the board for thoughts on their preferred brand and model. Any recommendations in this regard?

Thank you kindly for your time
 
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sdifox

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I doubt you'll notice any diff between PCIE3 and PCIE4 nvme drives in everyday use. are you even sure your machine can take PCIE 4 drives?
 
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AntiHypocrite

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I've been told that it can support either a Gen 3 or a Gen 4 NVme M.2 2280 memory PCB, but that the factory installed 11th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7 @ 2.40GHz CPU may not allow one to realize the speeds specified by the Gen 4 standard.

As computer hardware evolves at such a high rate, I try to lean toward newer technologies, whenever it's feasible. I'm fully aware that the newer Gen 4 NVMe M.2 memory sticks may not perform any better than the Gen 3 variants -- in this particular machine -- but, needless to say, being able to use hardware in a future laptop project is a pretty desirable option, right?
 
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sdifox

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I've been told that it can support either a Gen 3 or a Gen 4 NVme M.2 2280 memory PCB, but that the factory installed 11th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7 @ 2.40GHz CPU may not allow one to realize the speeds specified by the Gen 4 standard.

As computer hardware evolves at such a high rate, I try to lean toward newer technologies, whenever it's feasible. I'm fully aware that the newer Gen 4 NVMe M.2 memory sticks may not perform any better than the Gen 3 variants -- in this particular machine -- but, needless to say, being able to use hardware in a future laptop project is a pretty desirable option, right?
Not necessarily. Gen 4 is more expensive than gen 3. And by the time you move to new laptop/desktop it might be gen 5
 
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