Each year, around xmas, I publish a recommended budget PC article. This year I’m doing it slightly early, but decided to directly compare the spec and price this year with last year to see how things have developed.
Posts Categorised: Misc Hardware
This is just a quick post to mention an excellent guide I recently used when installing Windows 7 on an old Sony Vaio VGN-FZ31Z laptop. I was having significant difficulty installing several drivers, in particular those for the nVidia GeForce 8600M GS (hardware ID:
PCI\VEN_10DE&DEV_0425&SUBSYS_9005104D&REV_A1) which was stubbornly remaining a “Standard vga adapter”. Sony don’t provide any Windows 7 drivers, and the generic nVidia drivers don’t recognise the hardware version in the Vaio, instead offering the unhelpful error “The NVIDIA setup program could not locate any drivers that are compatible with your current hardware. Setup will now exit.” There is no good reason for this — the drivers have been disabled in software purely because OEM’s like Sony don’t want users installing drivers from nVidia that they (Sony) haven’t checked on their specific hardware configuration. This would be understandable if Sony actually bothered to provide support for their old hardware, but since they don’t this situation really isn’t acceptable.
I spotted a much cheaper 80+ gold PSU in the ebuyer xmas sales, and decided to look up some reviews. I found a review on anandtech which I must have somehow missed in the past. In light of this discovery, I’ve updated my previous articles about PSU efficiency to include the HuntKey Jumper 300G (aka R90). The price of this PSU changes the conclusions of 2 of the 4 scenarios I’ve previously detailed, and I have in fact ordered one at the discount price of £20, for use in my current server! After taking into account that my current server PSU (an Enermax NoiseTaker 475 from 2004) is approximately 80% efficient rather than the 70% worst case I use in the articles, I’m hoping to net savings of around £20 per year.
In recent months I’ve encountered several problems where people have contacted me asking for help getting their USB scanners working on new PCs. In each case the new PCs have come with Windows 7 x64, and the scanners have been USB devices produced by Canon and Nikon. Both of these imaging specialists have seriously dropped the ball on supporting products, including some quite expensive premium kit from not all that long ago.
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Intel have announced a new initiative to push laptops similar to the MacBook Air. The initial requirements are a weight of up to 1.4Kg, thickness of 20mm and battery life of 5+ hours. For manufacturers to qualify for intel marketing money ultrabooks also must have no optical drive, an SSD, and CULV processors.
I have been recently been looking for a similar type of laptop — I was asked to find something with excellent performance, 5+ hours battery, under 2Kg, with at least a 13.3″ screen, USB3, Optical drive, HDMI and VGA. A docking port would be a bonus. The faster, lighter, longer-battery-life the better.… Read Full Article
I’ve had problems with the new Seagate Momentus XT harddrive in my newest HTPC. The PC was locking up every 48 hours or so (which may have been related to standby), was occasionally jerky, and upon reboot would often refuse to boot with an error about a missing boot device, which could only be fixed with a hard power cycle. There is a firmware update for the drive to SD25 but this didn’t resolve the issue. However, after I changed the power management settings in Windows 7 to never spin-down the harddrive, the problems all went away. Success!
Update (14-Sept-2011). Seagate has released firmware SD28. There are reports that this fixes several issues and is a worthwhile update.
I had a problem with an old Epson Stylus Photo R200 printer. Despite being loaded with paper and fresh genuine ink cartridges, the unit refused to print. The 2 red warning lights on top were flashing alternately. After considerable googling I discovered that this error code is related to the ink cartridge cleaning well. Apparently it gets full of ink after a certain number of head cleaning cycles. As usual with cheap inkjet printers, the warning is based on a counter, not on the actual fullness of the cleaning well, and the error can be bypassed by resetting the counter in the printer. The good news is there is a utility which will do just that. Although it doesn’t list support, I can confirm that the utility does work fine on Windows 7 x64, so I believe it should work on every version of windows since Windows 95!