Friday, December 9, 2011

Computer Talk – Upgrade Time

I know I know… I talk about being broke and here I am talking about upgrading. Before you slap the screen or hunt me down to slap me, the computer I’m talking about I have had since Feb of ‘07 and I’m not going to replace it. It is the famous (in the tech world) HP HDX Dragon 20” laptop. The thing is, I doubt anybody uses this on their lap, why you ask, because it weighs in at about 16lbs! It’s a 20” BEAST that is really a mobile desktop than laptop. Where am I going with this, keep reading! Smile with tongue out

Dragon2 Dragon4


Compared to a 16” HP laptop, almost laughable the size difference.


It makes this women look like a child! It really is that huge!


When I first got it I actually brought it back and forth between work and home. That quickly ended, this thing is simply too massive for that. However as a desktop it has been the best computer I have ever owned. Stability is better than any of my other laptops and desktops, including my Mac’s. Acer, Dell, Toshiba all have tried 20” laptops, the only company to build a truly excellent one is HP so this is worth keeping.

Here is the problem though, it IS GOING ON 5 YEARS OLD! It has a Core 2 Duo 2.4ghz, 4gigs of memory (maxed out) the best screen I have ever used on a laptop with a 1980x1200 resolution that is drop dead gorgeous. You see, almost all high end laptops today use a maximum of 1080p for their laptop screens. While this is fine for a TV, us tech guys prefer higher resolutions. I would really like to meet the people who decided what was good for TV is good for laptops. I know why they did it, but I don’t agree with them, I digress.

I have to give Apple  kudos for using their excellent 1920x1200 LED screens for the 17” MacBook Pro’s. My 17” MacBook Pro has this LED backlit screen and it’s excellent. Back to the point, the Dragon has 7200rpm hard drives which were fine for 2007, for 2012 they are slow and the system has slowed down considerably. In fact it drives me crazy sometimes. I could format and start fresh, this would definitely increase the performance but the thing that will boost performance more than anything aside from buying a new machine, would be upgrading to a new SSD based hard drive. SSD is an electronic drive uses flash memory, I won’t get into the technical side of it but lets just say it compares to going from a Chevette to a ZR1 Corvette, the performance difference is that drastic.

Since I can’t change out the CPU or add more memory and I don’t want a new computer, I ordered a new Intel 320 120gig SSD drive. I am going to use the 320gig hard drive for storing data and the SSD will be used strictly for OS and applications. I have upgraded several people this way and they all swear their computers are incredibly faster. The response times for SSD' drives are so fast.

For the technical folk out there I didn’t buy a SATA 6Gbps drive because the interface in the laptop doesn’t support it. Also, because of the cost, way too high!

This is what the drive looks like, the bottom picture is of the NAND memory chips. I’ll take some before and after benchmarks and post them next week.



Teri said...

I'm glad to hear that you like HP's because I bought one just a few months ago. It's a Pavilion dv6 with Beats Audio and HP True Vision HD - since I don't have a TV in my coach, I figured these extra features would be good for watching TV on the internet and for watching movies.

Big Matt said...

I have one of those SSDs in my work laptop, 160gb, one of Intel's top end units.

Even running PGP Whole Disk Encryption, it performs like it isn't, which is saying something considering how much of a slow down PGP causes to a laptop.

I have a 2008 Montevina generation laptop (GM45), an HP G70 with the 17" widescreen moniitor (1440x900 max resolution with HDMI and VGA outs, so I can run it it closed top mode with a large monitor if I wanted to (Or with giant TVs at hotels to watch various videos) ), odds are you have the previous generation, Santa Rosa (GM965) in that big unit.

That laptop reminds me alot of Dell's folly, the Dell XPS and XPS2. They were massive portable desktops with 20" monitors with wireless detachable keyboards, dual raided hard-drives and a high power graphics card.

The battery was close to worthless on those units and the power brick was the size of a new netbook.

They had so many problems that Dell actually put out a tear down guide for users to be able to disassemble and service their units after Dell gave up trying to support them.

Now, some laptops you can actually remove the chassis from them, and the CPU is actually in a locking socket, allowing for the possibility to remove it and change it out, but there really isn't much in the way of better CPUs that will work with that specific board.

Erik's RV Blog said...

Teri - You'll like the DV6, HP makes good laptops.

Matt - The CPU can be upgraded but the work to do it is a pain and system speed wise it's fine, IO needs to be improved and the SSD will suffice.

We use PGP at work and it it's typically on large files. The system we use it on handles it fine but I can't imagine running whole drive encryption on a mechanical drive? Ugh.

I'm looking forward to installing it next week!