Dell XPS M1330 Keyboard Replacement

A little less than a month ago, I received what will go down as one of most useful comments on this blog thus far, regarding the Dell XPS M1330’s keyboard. Essentially it sucks in comparison to the exact same form factor keyboard found on the Vostro. After conversing through email with the gentleman who left the comment, I hit up eBay, PayPal in hand, to purchase a new keyboard for my M1330.

I received the keyboard (part# JM629) earlier this week and installed it yesterday. Wow. The difference is unbelievable. My perception of the sturdiness of the laptop has increased immensely. The vast difference makes me wonder why Dell isn’t installing this type of keyboard by default.

There were several problems associated with the stock M1330 keyboard. Due to the thin and flimsy backing, the keyboard flexed quite a bit and exhibited a hefty bulge in the middle. The keys were rattly and generally made the laptop feel far less well-built than is actually is.

Dell XPS M1330 keyboard bulge
You can see the bulge in the keyboard, near the power button

A comparison of the two keyboards shows that the new keyboard uses an inflexible metal backing that provides a lot more support for typing – no flex at all. Because the keyboard doesn’t flex, the bulge has also disappeared. Keystrokes feel far, far better than before and there’s no more rattling that sounds like the keyboard’s about to fall out the bottom of the laptop. If you buy a replacement, make sure it’s of the solid back type, not the same as the one you’re removing from your M1330.

Dell XPS M1330 keyboard backing comparison
Top: Old keyboard, Bottom: New keyboard. Notice the solid metal backing of the new keyboard.

Furthermore, I’m quite taken with the black instead of silver. The black keyboard now flows from the bezel and touch media controls. The black color no longer feels like an afterthought when opening the laptop, but an integral part of the design. You decide for yourself. Here’s a photo of the M1330 with lthe new keyboard installed.

Dell XPS M1330 with black keyboard

Replacing the keyboard’s straightforward. Take out the battery and remove the two screws beneath the battery that hold down the media control panel. Then, flip the laptop over and remove the two little covers at the top left and right of the keyboard. Then with a bit of force, remove the media controls. I found it easiest to pull up from the middle of the panel, which will disengage the little clips that hold it down. Then there are two more screws at the top of the keyboard to remove. The keyboard is attached through a ribbon connector that flips up to allow the cable’s removal. Install the new keyboard’s ribbon cable and clamp down the connector. Replace the screws and media panel and you’re done!

Moral of the story? If the stock keyboard feels a bit lacking, grab yourself a Vostro 1400 keyboard and replace it.

23 thoughts on “Dell XPS M1330 Keyboard Replacement”

  1. Yeah… keyboard is a pretty important piece of the overall laptop experience. You should give ThinkPad keyboard a try for a couple of weeks. Their keyboard is one of the main reasons why I keep buying ThinkPads.

  2. It is amazing how computer companies are forgetting to take care of this important part of our laptop. Last year I bough a Dell. As soon as I started typing on it, well it looked like i was typing in one of those toy laptop for children where instead of writing you get music instead! the feeling was the same and the sound was creepy. The keyboard kept squeaky a lot! After two months I had already replaced the laptop with a nice HP Pavillion. Better built and more steady!

  3. I just got my new M1330 and I hate the keyboard to the point that I’m thinking of returning it for a refund. I love laptop keyboards because you don`t have to press down much to type and they are very quiet. This keyboard offers neither of the two. Was the Vostro keyboard more like a traditional laptop keyboard or should I just contact Dell now?

  4. hi there just bought a dell xps on reading these blogs would like to change to black can any one tell me where to hget on or does any other laptop keyboard fit the dell .ps need a european on , gary belfast northern ireland

  5. The keyboard most are using are the Vostro 1400 keyboard. They fit the mold perfectly. You’ll have to find a European version obviously, but the part number I used was JM629 on eBay.

  6. Great tip! I’ve now done this too. I got a swedish layout keyboard off ebay, part no. NW617 for any swedes or finns out there.

  7. All Dell product are sucks & crab, and pease of shit, I will never buy any thing any more DELL XXXXXX
    However where can I find this black key board to replace on my XPS

  8. The keyboard is the only part of my M1330 that works! The touchpad driver keeps uninstalling itself, the disk drive thinks its damaged and cannot read cds (but, sometimes it decides it can?), etc. Why did I ever get a dell?!

  9. After drowning my original keybord with with a glass of red wine I installed a corresponding Vostro German keyboard on my M1330 – Dell pn is KT425 – perfect feeling, thanks for the tip

  10. Replaced my wifes 1330 keyboard with these instructions. Got a 1330 off fleabay (UK) it’s of the solid variety and fine. Easy retrofit to. cheers!

  11. I just did a replacement with a Vostro 1400 keyboard and it sure feels better, quieter and smoother than the clonky one of the original system. Also, I didn’t need to take off the “two little covers at the top left and right of the keyboard” as mentioned above. The contrasting black keyboard looks better than the all silver IMO.

  12. Some of the keys on my m1330 were sticky so Dell changed it under warranty. The newer m1330 keyboard has the solid metal backing unlike previously and it feels much more solid. I therefore believe you don’t have to get a Vostro keyboard to get the better feel you want.

  13. Hi Charlie,

    Nice one, thank you so much for the post…this (just-a-sec-ago installed) alternative keyboard is the biz in both form and function(: am most grateful.

    Take care, dude,

    Abdullah

  14. Does changing the keyboard invalidate Dell’s warranty? I have just put one in (looks the part!) and works great. However, Dell engineer is coming around to change motherboard so don’t want him to stop him working finding a black keyboard!

    1. I wouldn’t imagine so – even by warranty laws, they may only invalidate the warranty if they can prove the issue is caused by the aftermarket modification. In your case, it sounds like they were coming to fix a problem that existed before you replaced the keyboard. Of course, the keyboard will no longer be warrantied from this point forward.

  15. Thanks for the advice, I bought a Vostro 1400 keyboard and installed it successfully.

    Unfortunately in the process I messed up the ribbon and connector for the media panel. Until I find a replacement I don’t suppose you know how I can assign the volume up keys (etc) of the vostro keyboard to the m1330?

    Thanks

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