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Dell Latitude CPi reactivation


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I was looking for a PowerBook 2400 but found them too few and rare and expensive but I thought they reminded me quite a bit of my very first laptop I had, a Dell Latitude C-series..these PIII machines are easy to find and quite cheap. So I found a Latitude CPi-R 400GT locally very cheap.
I mostly had one of the C500/C600 series, they carry a ton of memories of mine because a C610 was my very first laptop ever in around 2000. They are Pentium III and actually are quite good, stably performers in a compact snd sturdy case, I like there casings even better than the powerbooks' and because they are somewhat modern those even have first gen mini pci onboard for wifi etc.

But I never had one of thsoe Pentium II ones from 1999, so I was interested in going back in time some years here, the predecessors are the XPi from 1996 and had a MMX Pentium and a small trackball like the Duos.
So at weekend the parcel arrived, luckily no breaks or damaging, as the packing was not the best. Hinges are still good, also the display latch.
There are some tiny spots/ drops on the display surface and they dont go away with IPA..maybe mold? Whatever they work and light up well.



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I have one, got it second-hand and used for quite a while (Win98, which was already vintage at that point).

If I recall, press Fn+F7 to scale up smaller resolutions to full screen (won't look too good, but in some cases nicer than having that postcard-size in the middle).


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There was Windows 2000 installed with different user accounts.. the old harddisk was kinda working, also the CD drive.
So I formatted the drive and for test porposes installed a fresh copy of XP to see the performance.
Before that I made a quick breakdown, cleaned it, removed the keyboard, top case to get to the dead, GREEN VARTA CMOS battery..urrgh
of course it ate trough the cable up to the connector.
There was a 128MB RAM stick in it so I tried a 256MB SD RAM pc133 stick in it but it wouldn boot anymore. So I guess 133Mhz, no dice.
When theres a problem the three little green lights blink all at once. Also theres almost no real info online about this model, only mostly about the other CPi models, but I found the original service manual ( attached)


  • latitude_cpi_r.pdf
    3.7 MB · Views: 2


Well-known member
Another task was to update the original old BIOS as there still was the very first version on it, A1 or similar..but I had no floppy disk drive.
At the the Dell site there actually still are the files but all in disk format. Also the old CD drive was beginning to produse errors and made funny noises..well, here we go..1999
So I continued to look for a drive and was lucky..I found a mint disk drive and a DVD/CD combo drive with external enclosures locally for 20 bucks..the floppy disk drive can be used internally or externally with a special Dell cable I guess, if this is works with the DVD drive I dont know.

IMG_2497.jpeg IMG_2496.jpeg

after that I could continue to update the BIOS..uh, has been a while
also, please dont be confused with the wrong files, the ones for the CPi-A and others series dont work.

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Well-known member
I have one, got it second-hand and used for quite a while (Win98, which was already vintage at that point).

If I recall, press Fn+F7 to scale up smaller resolutions to full screen (won't look too good, but in some cases nicer than having that postcard-size in the middle).
yeah, I has thinking of putting win98SE on it but we remember all the driver problems, blue screens? :cool:
still, tons of memories, my very first Pentium II slot 1 pc, in big tower.. and months of gaming Indiana Jones eternal machine on it.


Well-known member
the old drive, urggh Toshiba Travelstar.
but at the moment I dont have many good 2,5 ide drives anymore, just two old 2GB Apple ones..maybe I put in a IDE/SD adapter in it..


as the CPi-R 400GT was of the first ones that used SD RAM instead of the older EDO RAM I'm interested in maxing it out.
My 256 MB pc133 wasnt working I guess it must be pc100..whats strange because I alsways used pc133 in older machines and they downclocked the RAM..welI found two sticks of 128MB pc100 on craigslist, lets see .
At the moment I use the old 128MB pc100 and a spare 64MB pc100 I had from a Pismo. so 192MB in total..XP runs fine on it after the obligatory regedit tweaks.

In the meantime I put Win 2000 on a second partition it, I NEVER had used 2000, I directly jumped to XP after 98SE..
so, interesting still to learn. It now has dual boot, the XP boot loader also handles W2000.

W2000 actually is like XP just without all the effects, less 'bloated', also more stable as it is based on NE, like the new Windows versions.

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the battery isnt dead ( I guess, but who knows) because the green lights work and show activity under windows.


When I was browsing some infos about these machines I found that they use CPU modules, quite similar to the Pismos which can be swapped..
so it is possible to upgrade a PII machine up with a PIII 500 Mhz CPU..from a Thinkpad X series, interesting.
..but these arent exacly cheap theses days :cool:

m1.jpg m2.jpg

next thing was to get internet working, I had this damn Proxim Orinoco PcCard I wanted to use in it, because this exact model was giving me probs but I didnt wanna give up and buy another extra PcCard. These are Atheros based but not Mac compatible, only the older ones.
But, again, no luck. meh.
I spend a whole day looking for stupid XP drivers and it still didnt work ( even inscribed at the Proxim support site).:LOL:


in the meantime I tried it via Ethernet with my Etherlink III PCMCIA from my PB 1400, it worked OOTB, without any additional drivers, even under W2000..I guess 3com was very common these days.


Then I stumbled over the inofficial Qualcomm Atheros site and tried one for the AR5212 series ..and BANG, instant recognition, nice, it works without any additional software, WPA2 enabled.

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Well-known member
the Proxim Orinoco gold PcCard works under XP but not under W2000, I guess there are some network differences between those Os.
When I try to update the 'unknown Ethernet adapter' drivers under hardware manager, it just doesnt recognize the drivers..well WIFI g wasnt there. lol.

also, about the RAM, somebody on an old forum posted this series could be upgraded to 512MB with two 256MB sticks, but that just maybe a vintage internet myth..that only could be verified personally but I dont wanna buy two extra 256MB pc100 sticks right now, these are getting expensive..it is absurd, I have tons of 1/2GB DDR2 sticks from old power/macbook lying around
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