Friday, February 15, 2019

1TB M.2 drive, 32GB RAM installation complete

Getting a laptop computer that is working well for me has been a struggle.

For years, people have told me how much cheaper it is to buy a Windows machine than it is to buy a Mac.  For years, I told them to find one with the screen resolution and graphics hardware and it would be practically the same price.  It had been for the longest time.  Displays for laptop computers are not inexpensive but high quality displays are really expensive.

I got this 2017 Omen by HP laptop at about 25% discount.  It has an Intel i7 7700HQ quad core processor, Nvidia 1050 GPU with 2 GB of RAM, and the system came with a 1TB hard drive and 8GB of RAM.  It seemed to crawl most days.  The mid-2012 MacBook Pro had 16GB of RAM and a 480GB SSD with an Nvidia 650M GPU.

I found G.Skill RAM that I trusted that wasn't too expensive at the time and bought 32GB in two sticks.  I also found an HP m.2 SSD that seemed a good fit--an EX920.  Given that I've been working in retail and Thanksgiving Day to New Year's Day has been so brutal, I had few chances to get anything installed.  (I actually thought that, having a decent background with computer hardware installation since around 1981, I might be able to do the work myself but was proven wrong rather quickly.  It was much easier to modify each of my Apple Macintosh machines.)

I went to a phone repair store that was close, where I had some work done in the past, and the technician I knew was gone.  The person who might be able to do the work wasn't there that day, and since time wasn't convenient, I didn't return.  I went to a "computer services" shop (that looked like a pawn shop) and that shop's computer person wasn't there, either.

Last week, I decided to check another phone repair shop and found that they did computer work.  I called and was told that it would be US$30 to install the RAM and m.2 drive.  That was much lower than the $130-$250 I expected.

Wednesday, I went to the store and dropped off the computer.  They didn't give me a receipt--scary--but they sent my phone text messages to inform me on their progress.  US$30 to install the hardware and US$35 to clone the drive was given to me as the quote.  Thanks very reasonable.

Today, Friday, I went to see about the computer.  Things happened in the store and the progress was a bit delayed when "things happened", which was expected.  Thankfully, it wasn't some catastrophe where the hard drive didn't work at all.  He was "optimizing" it, so he told me that it would probably be three more hours.

I ate so-so VietNamese food at a new restaurant for way too much money, walked to a store to shop a bit, and got the text message that my machine had been finished.  I returned as quickly as I could walk.

I paid and I started the machine.  We looked and there was an update that required a restart.  I checked to see if the RAM and drive had actually been installed.  I wasn't accusing.  I just worry a lot.  If you can imagine something going wrong almost every time I do something, you'd be cautious, also.

Having the machine at home now, I'm pleased to say that my usual 51-66% RAM usage is around 19-22% now.  I'll be able to get started on my skate park videos finally.  I still need to select from thousands of clips.  I won't have to worry about my software being unhappy with the environment on which it's running, though.  Hopefully, Magix Movie Edit Pro Plus will be good.

As I've played a few games, the response is generally good but there are still delays.  I wonder if the operating system needs to mold itself to the new drive.  This machine is still labeled by HP as a casual gaming machine, which is all I needed anyway.  It still seems strange that UT2004 was smoother on a 2012 MacBook Pro than it is on a 2017 Windows machine purposed for gaming.

Update 2019.02.16: Windows 10 seems much better, although it does seem to be off in Never-Never land far too often still.  Who knows what it's doing?  As soon as I launch Task Manager, whatever was happening stops.  Defragmentation tends to continue, so I'm sure it's not that.  Feedback Hub is running, but why?  Microsoft does not want to know what I think of their collection of patches that they consider an operating system.  Back when a machine was limited to 64KB (or even 4MB) of RAM, it seemed that everything had to be tight.  Sloppy writers didn't make it.  Atari's implementation of GEM and DR-DOS weren't great but they were quick and efficient.

Firefox and Chrome both seem to handle scrolling more smoothly.

Games still seem just a bit better, which doesn't seem enough for the difference of having 4 times the RAM and a much, much faster drive.

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