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Help an Old Laptop Feel Useful?

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11 replies to this topic

#1
TrevMUN

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Hey guys,

 

I've got this old laptop that used to be my father's which I've been using as a "last resort" when I need to use a computer and neither my XP64 Professional desktop (Palouser) or my more modern, mobile computing XP32 Home laptop (Etesia) are available for whatever reason.

 

This older laptop is a Hewett-Packard Pavillion ze5700us. 2004-vintage, I think? Here's the specs on it:

 

  • Intel Celeron 2.80 ghz CPU
  • 1 GB of RAM (originally 512 MB)
  • ATI RADEON IGP 345M GPU
  • Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD1600BEVE HDD 160GB (replaced original dead drive)
  • Native resolution is 1024 x 768
  • Windows XP Home 32-bit ("Made for XP" it says)

I had to resort to this both last Fall (when my Asus Eee PC died and I needed to buy a new laptop, hence Etesia) and for a few weeks since the start of this semester (when Etesia was not yet back from an RMA). In the past I had to use it for much of 2009 when Palouser was knocked out by hard drive problems (and then a really ill-timed thunderstorm).

 

Thing is, using this laptop is a royal pain. It's not very mobile; putting aside the fact it's seven pounds, it also only has a battery life of 30 minutes or so (which means any notes I take in class tend to be very unfinished no matter how conservative I am about power usage). More than that, something causes the machine to overheat very, very easily. It can be running idle and yet its fans will be cranked up, the case hot to the touch in some areas.

 

I have a feeling this machine isn't really suited to run Windows XP despite the fact it was labeled as being built specifically to run it. But perhaps it's an issue of XP not running lean enough, or something making the laptop overheat so profusely. The laptop tends to chug as well; at first I suspected it was because, like my other machines, it had Avast on it (friends have told me that their rigs boot much much faster once they ditch Avast for BitDefender). But even trying to make the switch from Avast to BitDefender and MalwareBytes proved to be a royal pain!

 

I'm a believer that no piece of working electronics should go to waste, though, and as much as I gripe about using the laptop I'm at least glad to have it when no other option is available. So I'd like to ask you guys your thoughts; what can I do to make this laptop run more smoothly? Should I install a less demanding OS? Are there things I can do in XP to make it more responsive?


Edited by TrevMUN, 12 September 2014 - 03:13 PM.



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#2
submix8c

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Have you tried cleaning the heck out of it? It *will* overheat if vents, fan, etc. are nasty.


Edited by submix8c, 12 September 2014 - 10:36 PM.

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#3
TrevMUN

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I know, and I've tried before, but not to the point of disassembling the laptop to do it. Also, the overheating had been a thing even when the laptop had been previously cleaned out and left in a case, protected from dust. It doesn't even need to be doing anything graphically intensive, just something with a high CPU load. That can be really flabbergasting.

 

I can deal with the heat buildup, though, if the laptop could be made more responsive.


Edited by TrevMUN, 12 September 2014 - 11:58 PM.


#4
jaclaz

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A 2.80 Ghz Celeron with 1 Gb RAM is a more than decent hardware for XP.

I have had (and still have) similar machines and they run fine.

 

No matter whether you like it or not, if you want to solve the overheating you need to open up the laptop.

Besides thoroughly cleaning it, generally speaking the heat sinks - particularly of the GPU - use a "thermal pad" (as opposed to heat transfer paste) and these thermal pads tend over time to "dry up" and lose part of their heat transmission properties and simply need to be replaced.

 

If - when the disk was replaced - the recovery partition was preserved, I would try imaging the disk "as is" and the do a recovery (you will find yourself with a machine that has a lot of HP bloatware BUT that is "as from factory").

 

With that see how it behaves (of course NOT connected to the Internet as it won't likely have any antivirus/protection).

 

Then I would see if installing a "lited" XP (at least wthout the HP bloat) would make a difference.

 

jaclaz



#5
TrevMUN

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Alright. Though, right now I'd like to at least focus on the laptop performance, since I can more readily fix that than I can the dust issue. Or the thermal pad issue, for that matter, if they've dried up (and I imagine they would have at this point).

 

When the laptop's original hard drive died, XP was installed fresh on the system using the laptop's recovery disks. In the past I had tried to make the install run lean by attempting to disable some services, but it hasn't really helped much.



#6
tomw

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If you have not gotten it already, Process Explorer will let you look at what is using your cpu:

 

http://technet.micro...ernals/bb896653

 

  You can also use ctr--alt-del to get to the monitor provided with XP.

 

  Vishal has some good speed-up tips here:

 

http://www.askvg.com...ory/windows-xp/

 

and hist tutorial:

 

http://www.askvg.com...-xp-super-fast/

 

tom


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#7
jaclaz

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Hmmm.

 

The whole point is that if the hardware overheats, performance will be degraded as most modern hardware uses temperature sensors to "throttle down" the CPU (or GPU or both) in order to attempt to build not too much heat.

 

If this happens on your machine, no matter how "lean" is the OS, as soon as a given temp is reached, everything will slow down, often down to a crawl.

 

jaclaz



#8
submix8c

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...and if "something" is running eating CPU cycles, the CPU would heat up a lot too, fan running full throttle.

 

You may actually have *two* problems - Thermal Pads/Dirt/Dust *and* some errant Process.

 

edit - Uhhh... You do "gaming" on this one too (as well as the one BSOD'ing here)?

www.msfn.org/board/topic/171496-rash-of-bsods-what-could-be-the-culprit-here/#entry1085575


Edited by submix8c, 13 September 2014 - 09:58 AM.

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#9
TrevMUN

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If you have not gotten it already, Process Explorer will let you look at what is using your cpu:
 
http://technet.micro...ernals/bb896653
 
  You can also use ctr--alt-del to get to the monitor provided with XP.


Task Manager is typically my first choice when trying to figure out why my OS is behaving strangely, yeah. I also have Process Explorer, but not on the old laptop. I may move it over there if I can't consistently keep track of what's causing the old laptop to melt down so much.

However, I can say that through Task Manager I did catch one of the errant processes a few days ago: mscorsvw.exe. From what I looked into it has to do with Microsoft .NET.
 

Vishal has some good speed-up tips here:
 
http://www.askvg.com...ory/windows-xp/
 
and hist tutorial:
 
http://www.askvg.com...-xp-super-fast/


Thanks! I'll give those a looksee and report back on if they have any impact.

The whole point is that if the hardware overheats, performance will be degraded as most modern hardware uses temperature sensors to "throttle down" the CPU (or GPU or both) in order to attempt to build not too much heat.
 
If this happens on your machine, no matter how "lean" is the OS, as soon as a given temp is reached, everything will slow down, often down to a crawl.


...and if "something" is running eating CPU cycles, the CPU would heat up a lot too, fan running full throttle.

 
Fair point. I'll have to make time to crack the laptop open and blow out any excess dust. Dried-up thermal pads, however, are beyond my ability to either diagnose or repair by myself ...
 

edit - Uhhh... You do "gaming" on this one too (as well as the one BSOD'ing here)?
www.msfn.org/board/topic/171496-rash-of-bsods-what-could-be-the-culprit-here/#entry1085575

 
Not really. I've chiefly been using this old laptop as a "last resort." About all it can handle is web browsing, instant messaging, and note taking in class. Back in 2009 I was desperate enough to try and play a game on it--Phantasy Star Universe, specifically--but it could only manage 3 to 5 FPS. So not worth it.
 
The one that's BSoDing, Palouser, is my desktop and workstation. Palouser is where I do almost all of my PC gaming. A few times in the past I've used Etesia (that's the other laptop, the more modern one--a Lenovo Thinkpad Edge 431 to be exact) for gaming, but only old 90's/early 00's era stuff. Etesia wasn't built to be a gaming laptop.

#10
jaclaz

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Well, if you have the tools and ability to open a laptop (without cracking it ;)) and more than that re-assembling it after having cleaned it :whistle:, you definitely can replace a thermal pad.

 

If you never applied a piece of double-side adhesive tape anywhere :w00t:, then you might need to take a course on it :whistle:.

 

It is not entirely unlike what you would do with a gasket when you disassemble an engine, even if it seems fine, while you are at it you replace it anyway, but if you are disassembling the engine beacause you found out some water or oil is leaking, you definitely change it.

 

A laptop GPU or CPU thermal pad should cost something like 1 or 2 bucks, while disassembling and reassembling a laptop is likely to take more than one hour, and after having replaced it/them you will be at least sure that you did the most that could be done.

 

jaclaz



#11
TrevMUN

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Last night I checked out AskVG as tomw suggested and followed his master guide for tweaking XP's performance. I'm glad for it, because there were a number of things I hadn't tried before, and I've noticed a significant improvement!

 

The system still isn't as responsive as my more modern laptop (Etesia) or my desktop (Palouser), but that may just be because I've gotten used to XP running on hardware from 2008 and later that I've forgotten what it was like to use it on older hardware that is closer to minimum system requirements.

 

However, the old laptop is taking MUCH less time to boot to desktop now, and it doesn't seem like it wants to heat up as badly just from the process of doing so. I'm grateful for the help!



#12
submix8c

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re: mscorsvw.exe (.NET Runtime Optimization Service - aka NGEN) - disable it in Services, if you haven't already.


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