Tag Archives: Hardware

Installing Windows 8.1/10 on Toshiba Satellite L300

Just a little note which maybe of interest for users of old hardware, in particular Toshiba Satellite L300 laptop. Earlier I wrote about adding SSD drive into it _, and my results were that with Windows Vista SSD doesn’t help that much: it is better with SSD but still extremely sluggish due to the fact that Vista does not support SSD properly. I also linked underwhelming performance to the fact that I put x64 Vista on 2 GB system (and there is commonly accepted opinion/rule of thumb of not installing x64 Windows on anything with less than 3 GB of RAM). Back then I was not able to install Windows 10 TP on this laptop (likely because of some missing driver).

Recently I finally revisited this laptop and successfully installed Windows 8.1 which was immediately upgraded to Windows 10. So this laptop runs Windows 10 x64 with 2 GB RAM and with SSD and this configuration significantly faster and more responsive. Really good example that to unlock your hardware potential you need support from software, and also illustrates quite well superiority and quality of work MSFT done in Windows 8.1 and 10 – it really works better than old versions even on the same hardware.

Slight issue was Canon Pixma 630 printer which was in use with this laptop. Pixma 630 officially not support Windows 10, so drivers available only for Windows 8.1 – but they are work just fine for Windows 10 – I was able to verify this.

Also in case you on the fence about x86 VS x64 problem your extra incentive for selecting x64 may be greater security and quality of drivers. Essentially x64 Windows 8/10 is more secure because it has: mandatory driver signing (x86 missing this), Address Space Layout Randomization aka ASLR (x86 has it but on x64 it is much more efficient due to larger address space), Kernel Patch Protection or KPP aka PatchGuard (prevents software, even drivers running in kernel-mode, from patching the Windows kernel for x86 this is technically possibly but never was implemented to preserve backward-compatibility with old software), Data Execution Protection (more strict and always enabled for x64 programs), WOW64 compatibility layer (enforces some restrictions on these 32-bit programs which runs on top of it) and guess what else? Dropped support for 16-bit applications 🙂

My conclusion is that nowadays I only would care to install x86 OS on hardware which has historical value as vintage piece for collectors or geeks and can’t support x64 OS, other than that I will either put x64 OS or would recommend upgrade hardware.

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Site downtime / Synology DS415+ memory expansion

Some of you may seen a short period of downtime for my blog just a little while ago. In order to compensate for any inconveniences it could cause for those who notice it, here is a blog post explaining why it had happened.

For quite a while now I host my WordPress blog on Synology DS415+ NAS box and I’m going to continue to do so (at least no plans to move back to wordpress.com or something else so far). So I recently bought this:

DS415+ RAM Upgarde 001

This is 8 Gb SO-DIMM DDR-III Kingston (KVR16S11/8 PC3-12800) which I bought from some local vendor in order to replace default 2 GB memory module which DS415+ NAS has installed in its default configuration. Officially Synology not supports memory expansion which is quite obvious from amount of work you need to reach out SO-DIMM slot 🙂 Also there is only one slot so you only can swap default module with new one. Number of people reported that they were successful with replacing memory modules on this box so I was pretty sure it will work out (don’t ask me about practical gains from memory increase – it’s a difficult part which I leave out in this blog post).

Entire process is straightforward and two question you may have is which memory modules will do and how to disassemble this box. Disassemble steps will be described below. As for memory modules I can say that factory preinstalled module labeled with DSL sticker and uses SEC chips (Samsung Electronics Co, Ltd.) and has the following specs: DDR3 1600 2GB CL11. So essentially I was able to replace it with 8 Gb PC-12800. By the way these fancy PC3-XXXXX numbers are module names in accordance with JEDEC standards, in particular PC3-12800 = DDR3-1600x standard, and 12800 is a theoretical bandwidth of a module.

So before replacing memory module we have 2 Gb:

Before - System Information

Below you may find disassembly process steps. First switching off and disconnecting the box, and placing it in some convenient place. As you can see working 24×7 this box collects loads of dust rather quickly:

DS415+ RAM Upgarde 002

Removing drives, in my case I have 2 6TB WD RED drives and 2 vacant places 🙂 :

DS415+ RAM Upgarde 003

Box without drives/drive cages:

DS415+ RAM Upgarde 004Removing screws on the back side of the box (3 in total). One on the top:

DS415+ RAM Upgarde 007

And two on the bottom:

DS415+ RAM Upgarde 005

DS415+ RAM Upgarde 008

The most difficult part is to remove this upper cover. After looking at the similar set of pictures posted by somebody on Synology forums I was confused by the pictures there highlighting some locks on the top of the device, don’t dry to apply force there, actually you have to push from the inside of the box part of the cover which is opposed to leds/button side – push it from the inside and try to slid this cover back so that it free from the two clips located where you push and slid it to free the cover from the locks on the top. I marked area near from the locks where you have to push:

DS415+ RAM Upgarde 010

Like I said it is most difficult part. You may need to watch this video to get an idea how exactly to do this step:

https://youtu.be/1PYp9CNdgn4?t=138

All the next steps are easy. Completely removing cover:

DS415+ RAM Upgarde 011

Removing 4 screws holding the metal frame for drives (two from each side):

DS415+ RAM Upgarde 014

Remove plastic part on the top of the metal cage which connected with one of the fans:

DS415+ RAM Upgarde 015

Unscrew and remove from its slot plate with SATA connectors:

DS415+ RAM Upgarde 017

Then remove metal cage completely:

DS415+ RAM Upgarde 018

Remove plate with ports:

DS415+ RAM Upgarde 019

After this unscrew 2 screws on the metal cover and you finally get access to main board and memory slot. Here it is with dust and pre-installed 2Gb memory module:

DS415+ RAM Upgarde 020

Old and new module side-by-side:

DS415+ RAM Upgarde 021

Main board with new module installed:

DS415+ RAM Upgarde 025

Next we repeat the step in reverse order and here is DS415+ box assembled again:

DS415+ RAM Upgarde 026

And once it is powered up we can see the final result of this process:

After - System Information

Now I have 8 GB of memory in my NAS, have you noticed that my blog works faster now? 😉 All the process took about 1,5 hour from switching off till power on with replaced memory module.

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Toshiba Satellite L300 + SSD – refresh attempt :)

I wasted most of my last weekend trying to do something with extremely sluggish Toshiba Satellite L300 laptop with Windows Vista. After some years of being in use by my father this laptop become so slow that it exceed tolerance limits even such undemanding user as he is 🙂 As a new and really good laptop was not something within available budget for this particular case, I’ve decided to replace HDD with SSD for best performance gain possible (adding RAM was not an option as this model can’t handle more that 2 GB which were already installed, I found it difficult to believe into this limitation, especially these days, when we can have 64 GB of RAM in desktops 🙂 ).

I ended up buying 240 Gb OCZ Arc 100 to replace built in 160 Gb Toshiba HDD.

OCZ_SSD_Toshiba_HDD

This procedure was easy, unlike further wipe and load procedures. Carelessly I started my attempt to put Windows 10 TP onto this antique device – it took 2 attempts and some pondering on why Windows 10 install freezes on “Getting Ready” phase somewhere in the end… I tried to google this and 2 most common suggestions for the similar issues were that windows fails to load/find compatible driver (not sure what’s the difficulty to surface an error/warning for this) and splendid suggestion “I know this is not very good answer but just wait for couple of hours, it may work out, it did for me”. In the end I decided that I wasted enough time waiting, and end up with installing x64 Windows Vista as this laptop was shipped with this OS. Though before doing that I decided to remove another possible reason of poor performance – dust in cooling system:

Toshiba_L300_Dust

It required almost complete disassembling of laptop, though it seems that it was necessary thing to do as air which the system blow out from the inside before cleaning was way too hot.

Toshiba_L300_motherboard

I have not had good Vista SP2 ISO file with all the updates and it took me almost whole day while Vista tried to download all post RTM updates 🙂 At some point I decided that downloading SP2 and installing it would speed up the process – so did I, only to find out that I have to download and install SP1 first. After all service packs were installed it took extra 5 hours to got all the subsequent updates.

OCZ_SSD_Installed

In generally I would say that putting SSD improved responsiveness of this laptop but not to extend I expected – i think mainly because other components become bottleneck and also due to the fact that Vista doesn’t support TRIM as at the time when Vista was released SSD weren’t mass market product. In case of Windows TRIM stated to be supported with release of Windows 7/Server 2008 R2 for SATA drives and starting from Windows 8 and onward Windows TRIM supports PCI Express SSDs based on NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory), and the unmap command which is a full analog of the trim command from Serial ATA for devices that use the SCSI driver stack. It seems that missing TRIM may lead to SSD performance degradation overtime unless you don’t have and use some third party software which takes care about this (e.g. Samsung provides sofware which performs garbage collection for their SSDs), but also Vista not as quick starting from SSD as Windows 7 which I believe has other SSD related optimizations. But anyway before installing SSD this system used to take 2 minutes to start (and something like up to 5-6 minutes to the moment when you can actually start using it, i.e. antivirus and other stuff finally started and your desktop become responsive) and something like 15-30 second to start IE, after switch to SSD these delays decreased and system is more pleasant to work with. Alas, there is no that blazing fast speed which you may see when you put SSD into a bit more powerful system with more RAM and newer OS optimized for SSD, where you can reach something very close to impressive 15 seconds from power off to fully operational desktop, but in the end it was not the aim of this attempt 🙂

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