Author Archives: et4d

SSD is Magic

As the computer person of the family I have the (dis)pleasure of playing tech support. This time I tried to get Outlook to connect to Gmail on an HP G70t-200. The problem was, the laptop was so slow I had no patience to try to troubleshoot the problems.

The HP G70t-200 spec: Core 2 Duo T6400, 3GB RAM, 250GB HDD.

My first thought was to get a new PC. HP is currently selling the 17z at a good price. Configured with a 1600×900 display, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, Ryzen 3 2300U, which I find a decent configuration for its purpose, it’s just $500. (I made fun of 1600×900 displays recently online, but they’re good for older people who want everything to look big anyway.)

My second thought was how to make the current laptop better. RAM can only be upgraded to 4GB. I thought of adding ReadyBoost, which is always a cheap way to get a PC to work better when out of RAM.

Then I remembered the Kingston A400 240GB SSD I recently bought for my Ryzen 3 2200G desktop. I installed it there, but I don’t use that PC much anyway, now that my plan to do comprehensive testing of it has died, and I figured I could spare it.

I backed it up, cloned it using MiniTools Partition Wizard. That didn’t boot, and I couldn’t easily fix it, so I put the old disk back, cloned it again with Macrium Reflect, and that worked. While doing this I learned that Macrium Reflect Free can now be used in business environments for limited purposes, which is quite nice.

Anyway, as I had hoped, this gave the laptop a new lease on life. It’s amazing how an SSD is the single most important upgrade for old computers to get them to perform significantly better.

Converting MBR to GPT

When I built my 2200G PC, I used a 4TB drive I won from TechSpot. The Windows installer initialised the drive to MBR, which meant that only 2TB were available. Since I felt that 2TB is enough, I decided to leave that alone at the time.

For those who don’t know, MBR stands for Master Boot Record. It’s an old way to mark where partitions exist on the disk. The newer format is GPT, GUID Partition Table. It not only allows for drives larger than 2TB, but is also more robust, because it stores the partitioning information in more than one place. On the down side it requires a newer PC, with UEFI support (instead of a basic BIOS) and a modern OS (Vista x64 or newer). These aren’t really problems with PCs from the past 10 years or so.

Windows Disk Management can’t convert a drive from MBR to GPT unless it’s empty, and most of the tips Google found were either irrelevant, hard to do or directed to ‘free’ software which didn’t include the functionality in its free version.

Which is why when I finally found the simple solution I figured I’d post. Google did find it, it’s just not the thing that pops up immediately and depends on the search.

Anyway, the solution is MBR2GPT, which already comes with Windows 10. It’s a command line program and it does the job well. Here’s a detailed explanation of how to use it:

  • Click the Start Menu icon (bottom left) and type ‘CMD’ (without the quotes). You’ll get Command Prompt at the top of the search results.
  • Right click Command Prompt and click ‘Run as administrator’. Click ‘Yes’ in the UAC dialogue.
  • You need to know your disk number. If you only have one disk, the number is 0. Otherwise you can find it either in Disk Management (right click the Start Menu icon and select it) or run DiskPart from the command line you just opened, type ‘list disk’ to get a list of disks, and then type ‘exit’).
  • Type ‘mbr2gpt /convert /disk:0 /allowFullOS’. (Replace ‘0’ with the relevant disk number.)

That’s it. Really simple and worked fine for me.

Press F to Pay Respects

It’s dead, Jim. Or, as Miracle Max would say, it’s only mostly dead. Yeah, I’ve been neglecting this blog again, haven’t even posted this, nor have I touched my 2200G PC much. Just not enough free time and that dead hard drive helped kill my enthusiasm for the project.

I had quite a few plans, comparisons to old graphics cards, comparison of 4GB and 8GB, studying storage solutions, from the effect of ReadyBoost to FuzeDrive (which became StoreMI with the latest motherboards). Probably won’t happen any time soon though, perhaps not ever.

Anyway, if anyone did happen to read this blog, my apologies. If anyone does care to comment and say what would interest them to read, than might encourage me to continue. For now, I’ll wait until I feel a little freer, and perhaps come up with a new project.

A hard drive died

Unfortunately the 2TB Seagate Barracuda in the Phenom II PC died. That had all the videos I recorded on it, many of which I wanted to upload in the long run. Things like the ASRock BIOS and its update procedure, A8 9600 benchmarks, and of course a lot of 2200G stuff. Plus other unrelated stuff.

Of course, none of it was backed up.

This obviously puts a dent into my plans to create a useful blog and YouTube channel, something that already became harder recently due to having even less time for it than before, and with this setback became even harder.

Another PC is breathing better

Remember that PC whose RAM I wanted to upgrade? I did that this weekend, but first had to clean it. Here are the before and after pics:

before.jpg

after.jpg

Not perfect, but I didn’t want to disassemble it. Vacuum plus wipes plus compressor then vacuum and wipes again.

So PC had its bath, had RAM upgraded from 2GB to 6GB (unfortunately I didn’t find all 4 2GB DIMMs I had, so made do with 2x1GB + 2x2GB). Also got a new DVD drive (I discovered when I tried to run MemTest86 that the drive wouldn’t open). Now it has another 10 years ahead. 🙂

I hate that a phone is my ID

I carry a phone on me most of the time, but sometimes I leave it behind (such as when I’m with my family) and I often forget to charge it. I’m just not that much of a big phone user to care (I guess my age is showing).

Problem is, when my phone dies or isn’t with me, I’m much more limited these days than I was in the past, because even if I have another way to go on the internet, such as a PC or my wife’s phone, at some places (such as Gmail) the only way to verify my identity is my phone.

This catch-22 where I need to access a service in another way because I don’t have a phone and I can’t access it because I don’t have a phone is pretty annoying.

The Minimal 2200G Build – Arrgghhh

I’ve tried doing some things, and it’s a struggle. For one thing, I can’t seem to be able to undervolt or underclock the CPU. Neither Ryzen Master nor the BIOS options ended up doing anything.Well, not completely nothing, the voltage did seem to take more time to read 1.4V and system power when running Prime95 was around 120W instead of 127W. But underclocking didn’t seem to do a thing and voltage tweaking didn’t seem to do any more than that. It’s not that the system was unstable or stopped working, it simply didn’t do a thing.

GPU undervolting did work, although only when I dropped the SOC voltage. But that made quite an obvious change, from around 88W in FurMark at 1.1V to around 82W at 1V. Still, without the ability of saving power by tweaking the CPU I felt that it was easiest to just use the 35W BIOS option.

Given that I had already tested that, I figured I’d move from power testing to something that was on my original test plan: comparing the integrate Vega 8 to the Radeon HD 5750 in my Phenom II PC.

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The Minimal 2200G Build – a Redux redux

I had planned to make a better video, so here it is. This Reddit thread helped me focus on some things.

For a start, I discovered that it was possible to change the location where Afterburner displays its text, by running RivaTuner Statistics Server. That helped display CPU and GPU stats without them overlaying the benchmark provided stats.

Unfortunately the GPU percentage showed garbage (a very large number) which overlayed other GPU stats. I tried installing the Raven Ridge drivers from AMD’s site, but that didn’t help, so I returned to the Microsoft supplied driver, which is newer.

Making the power meter more visible took a bit of effort. After several attempts I ended up propping a torch (flashlight) directed at it from the side, and that seemed to highlight the display better.

Syncing and overlaying 4 videos was more difficult than the two I had previously done, and it also turned out that cropping the start of the video after Track Motion is set resets it, which was annoying. The end result still isn’t perfectly frame aligned, but it’s close enough.

The Minimal 2200G Build – First video, and how it was created

I feel bad calling this series ‘The Minimal 2200G Build’, now that I’ve added another 4GB RAM, but I’ll continue with the name for consistency’s stake. 🙂 I do plan to test the 4GB configuration.

My first video is up. It’s a test for creating videos, so isn’t all I wanted to show, but any start is a good start. It shows the system running the Metro: Last Light Redux benchmark at default (low) settings at 1080p, with system power shown as measured by my cheapowatt (that’s my power meter’s nickname).

For those who are interested in making videos, or are interested in telling me how to make them better, here’s how this one was made.

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