HP Compaq 6910p upgrades

I spent some time exploring HP Compaq 6910p upgrades because used HP Compaq 6910p laptops are dirt cheap these days. I picked one up for $75 as an alternative to a Black Friday cheapie.

If you look for one yourself, either look for one with a valid Windows 7 or Windows 10 license on it, or get one at a deep enough discount to make it worth your while.

Here’s what I did to turn an outmoded laptop from 2008 into something better than what I could have bought on Black Friday.

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When will SSDs be cheaper than hard drives?

When will SSDs be cheaper than hard drives? Based on history, it’s possible to make an educated guess, and I’m going to do it.

Back in 2011, I noticed that historical hard drive pricing fell in line pretty nicely with Moore’s Law, and predicted that SSDs would do the same. I predicted that SSDs would reach 25 cents per gigabyte sometime in 2016, and was wrong. They hit that price in 2015. So I was late by a few months.

But I’m still willing to try to predict when SSDs will cost less than hard drives. I’ll predict when they’ll hit parity too.

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Here’s a better laptop than the typical Black Friday specials

If you want a better laptop than the typical Black Friday special, I found just the thing: this Dell Latitude E6420 laptop from Newegg, for $225 (the price is good through Sunday, Nov. 22). It has several things going for it: it comes with Windows 7 Professional, so you can upgrade to Windows 10 when you want and you’ll get the better, more-feature-filled, easier-to-secure Professional version; you can upgrade the memory to 8 GB of RAM, and it comes with a 128GB SATA SSD, so you can drop in a bigger, faster SSD at a later date.

Note: When Newegg sells out of these, which happens occasionally, they’re fairly easy to find on Ebay, though some come with conventional hard drives rather than SSDs.

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Happy 20th birthday to Windows 95

It was on August 24, 1995 that Windows 95 was released, amidst much anticipation. It was the most widely anticipated Windows release of all time, and the runner up really isn’t close. The idea of people lining up for blocks for a Microsoft product sounds like a bit of a joke today, but in 1995 it happened.

I received a free copy of it because I worked at Best Buy in the summer of 1995 and I aced Microsoft’s test that demonstrated sufficient aptitude to sell it. A few weeks later I landed my first desktop support gig, ending my career in a blue shirt, which means I probably never actually talked anyone into buying a copy of it.

I got plenty of Win95 experience over the next couple of years though.

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SSDs, data loss, electricity, and hype

I’m not particularly worried about this, but under the very worst case scenario, certain solid-state disks can theoretically lose data in a week or two if they’re left without power. But that doesn’t instill panic and get clicks when you say it like that.

But you knew I was going to write about it. Let me tell you why I’m not worried.

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A new way to measure reliability and quality of hardware

If you’re in the market for some new PC gear, it helps to measure reliability and quality of hardware. How do you measure that? How about buying the one that induces the least buyer’s remorse? That’s an approach you can take with the data from Hardware.fr. It’s in French, but Google Translate works.

This doesn’t measure long-term reliability–only DOA rate and short-term reliability–but it’s data I haven’t seen before, so I think it’s a welcome resource.

What was hot in 2014? Gigabyte motherboards, Antec power supplies, Kingston RAM, Seagate hard drives, PNY graphics cards, and Samsung SSDs. Keep in mind in some categories it was a tight race. An ideal return rate is one percent or less, and no motherboard maker achieved that, though one-percenters exist in all of the other categories. Some are significantly below one percent.

It’s notable that all motherboard makes that they track are above two percent, which is a poor rate of return, and the brands they track are the good brands. I don’t think I want to know the return rate on second- and third-tier boards. The moral of the story: Burn in your system after you build it.

Why we can’t have nice things: The reaction to IBM’s big black and blue quarter

IBM announced yesterday that it had a terrible quarter. They missed earnings, the stock plunged, and Warren Buffett lost a billion dollars.

Everyone assumes Warren Buffett is worried, or livid, and selling off the stock like it’s on fire. Read more

What to do when you have more open slots than drive bays

Every once in a while you find something you weren’t looking for, then you wonder why you never thought of it before. That’s what I thought when I saw the Kingwin 2-Bay PCI adapter. It’s a bracket that slides into a couple of empty slots and gives you space to mount a pair of 2.5″ hard drives or SSDs.

It’s brilliant because almost any computer these days has empty slots because all of the essential stuff that used to be on plug-in boards comes integrated onto the motherboard these days. And if you put a micro ATX motherboard into a full ATX case like I often do, you have at least two empty slots that you couldn’t use even if you wanted to.

This is a brilliant way to get a couple of additional drive bays in a desktop computer, so I highly recommend it.