Category Archives: Lowendia

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.

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.

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. πŸ™‚ 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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The Minimal 2200G Build – 2x4GB is better (and power options do work)

Yeah, we all know that. I installed the new 4GB stick and ran Metro, FurMark and Prime95. Both Metro and FurMark ran about twice as fast, but they also took more power. Metro ran about 95-105W, vs. 80-90W with 4GB.

FurMark + Prime95 started at 125W but then dropped to 105W, same as the 4GB power consumption, and stayed there. FurMark went up from around 12 FPS to about the full speed of 23 FPS, stayed there a while and then dropped back. Now it’s running at 19 FPS. I’m not sure what the deal is there. I can imagine that the drop in power has to do with the CPU getting throttled (not sure why it took time), but the FPS switch is stranger.

I installed Ryzen Master and saw that the CPU cores are running about 3100Mhz (+-25MHz). Ryzen Master claimed that the CPU was taking around 20W. It then crossed my mind that perhaps the power options in the BIOS simply didn’t kick in because power wasn’t high enough with only 4GB of RAM.

So I went to the BIOS and switched the power from 45W to Auto. Power when running FurMark + Prime95 jumped to 135-140W. FurMark didn’t go up in frame rate. In fact, it continues its strange behaviour of jumping between frame rates and staying there fore a while. GPU clock is significantly (around 150MHz) higher, but it makes no difference. I’m assuming that RAM is the bottleneck here. If that’s the case, it means that power use could be improved by dropping the GPU clock when it’s bottlenecked anyway.

The Minimal 2200G Build – Some Things I’ve Learned

Just a little update. I haven’t spent that much time working on the system or the posts, but figured it’s worth making sure you know that I’m not dead yet, and neither is this series of posts.

According to DHL, the A8-9600 should have reached AMD on the 29th of March. But on the 3rd of April I got an e-mail warning me that if the CPU wasn’t returned within 15 days I might lose the privilege of future RMAs. Made me wonder if that penalty is worth it, and I should have kept the A8-9600. Wouldn’t have done it, but considering I’ve never had a CPU fail, there’s some temptation there.

On the 4th of April I got a message that AMD has received the CPU.

I did some testing, running Metro: Last Light Redux, FurMark and Prime95. Metro: Last Light Redux is a much better stress test than the games I ran on the A8-9600, taking 80-90W of system power at the wall, not 60-70W like the rest. Made me even sorrier I forgot to test the A8-9600 with it.

Prime95 took system power was 100W, and Prime95 + FurMark 105W (which cut FurMark’s frame rate in half). I forgot by now how much FurMark took alone. Will retest. Oh, and the system was stable throughout the testing. I’m not using it for everyday use, so can tell if everything else works fine, but for a few hours of testing it was fine.

I tried playing with the power limit option in the BIOS (System Configuration, under Advanced / AMD CBS / NBIO Common Options). There are options for 35W, 45W and 65W, but they did nothing, unfortunately. I’m disappointed, because low power use is something I’m interested in and I want to see how it affects performance. I guess I’ll have to install Ryzen Master and try to achieve results with it.

I said before that the 2200G ran fine with the 18.2.1 drivers installed with the A8-9600, except that MSI Afterburner didn’t show GPU utilisation. When I later booted the PC and ran some tests, I found out that Windows installed a newer Raven Ridge specific driver, 17.40.3735, which is newer than the one AMD has on its site (17.40.3701).

These are all the updates I can think of for now. Well, except that I ordered another 4GB DIMM from Amazon, this time a white one (it was cheaper than the red). Got it today.

The Minimal 2200G Build – Adding Images

I added some images to the BIOS Blues post. At first I didn’t remember how to add custom HTML, which made arranging the images hard (I wanted a table). So I glued them side by side in Paint, and that seemed to produce the effect I wanted.

Once I found the HTML tab (hidden in plain site), I decided I was too lazy to try to change what already looks okay, so left it that way.

Many of the images I have are low quality anyway. I took them with my Galaxy 4 Mini phone, which does a bad job in low light conditions.

I will add images to the It’s Aliiiive post later, and will try to use custom HTML if I think it’s necessary.

The Minimal 2200G Build – It’s Aliiiive!

DHL picked up the A8-9600 yesterday to get it back to AMD. Goodbye, Bristol Ridge APU, I hardly knew you.

The board now has the Ryzen 3 2200G installed in it, and it’s working. I got the 2200G fully settled in its new home, or rather, the old case, after taking out the AM2 motherboard + Athlon X2 240 which was its previous resident, and had enjoyed its gothic environment of dust, cobwebs and the ghosts of DDR2 RAM.

Now that everything is working, I will relax a little, try to get some photos added to the existing posts (like this one), learn how to edit videos so I can post some captures on YouTube, and start playing around with it.

In the meantime, here’s a little more about the process of installing and testing the A8-9600. It’s pretty boring stuff, and expert builders might scoff at this, but perhaps some noobs might find helpful tidbits here.

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