Jakobnator's Old Dell XP13 Laptop Gets a USB Power Delivery Upgrade Thanks to a New Type-C Port

Looking to drop the proprietary power supply, jakobnator's upgrade means the laptop now charges from a common Type-C adapter.

Gareth Halfacree
a month agoProductivity

Pseudonymous YouTuber "jakobnator" has published a video showing how he upgraded an older Dell laptop to charge using a USB Type-C port, via USB Power Delivery (PD) — doing away with its proprietary power brick in the process.

"So I've had this laptop for about six years now," jakobnator explains. "[It] got me through college, and I really like this line-up of XPS13s. It's a good size MacBook alternative, but as I've been travelling more I've been trying to shrink down things so that I'm only carrying one charger."

"A lot of things are moving towards USB-C. You get these headphones, Type-c; got this Switch, Type-C; my phone, Type-C; iPhones, not Type-C... But this laptop comes with this barrel-jack that's been used for maybe the last 20 years or so, it's this huge, huge AC adapter with this huge thing and it honestly makes me not want to bring [it] because how much of a pain in the ass it is to travel with."

The video goes through the entire upgrade process for replacing the barrel-jack connector with USB Type-C. (📹: jakobnator)

While modern Dell XPS13 laptops can charge through USB Type-C using the USB Power Delivery (PD) standard, jakobnator's older model has no such option. Although after-market USB Power Delivery upgrades exist for a range of laptops, jakobnator was unable to find one for his particular model — so set about replacing the barrel-jack connector with a USB Type-C port connected to a USB Power Delivery controller.

Laptops aren't the only devices to benefit from an upgrade to USB Type-C, either: Previously we've seen Dennis Schieder add the connector to soldering irons and bench-top power supplies, Matt Perks create a USB Type-C Unifying Dongle for Logitech keyboards and mice, while SparkFun has made it easier to add USB Type-C to your projects with a Qwiic-compatible Power Delivery board.

The video, published to jakobnator's YouTube channel, walks through the entire process —including the reasons for a range of design choices — and showcases the finished upgrade.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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