July 11, 2019

From XP to X (hardware)

One philosophical benefit of being a late adopter is that the transition from old to new becomes all the more (melo)dramatic.

I'm no technological Urashima Taro (or Rip van Winkle). Windows 10 won me over, especially once I figured out that you can access "Recent Documents" by right-clicking on an app in the Taskbar (though I still prefer the fly-out list in Windows XP). I skipped right over Windows 8.

I stuck with Windows XP for the same reason I still drive a 1995 Ford. It works. Aging web browsers, not so much. Once the updates stop, they are quickly rendered incompatible and insecure. And slow. Technological life comes to a screeching halt without a fully functional browser.

Someday when I have a lot of time on my hands, I'll install Linux on my old ThinkPad so I can at least run an up-to-date browser on it.

Nevertheless, switching away from a platform in which I have invested almost a decade and a half (that's 90 in computer dog years), a RAM upgrade, a replacement keyboard, and a replacement heatsink and fan unit, was a sentimental big deal.

I don't have money to burn and don't need a lot of horsepower. I spend most of my time in Chrome, Word, and text editors (I'm not a gamer). A basic system driving a 1600 x 900 monitor (a much higher resolution than the 1024 x 768 display in the ThinkPad T42) suits my needs just fine.

In the end, I got a low-end PC from Walmart. The HP Slimline 290-p0043w is an inexpensive desktop PC powered by a Celeron G4900 CPU (4GB DDR4 500GB HDD), with 8 USB ports (4 USB 3.1 no C) and a DVD drive. It's about the size of two T42 ThinkPads stacked on top of each other.

The case can be positioned as a "tower" or horizontally. But with the tower's feet on the right and the front USB ports and switch at the top left (my preference), the DVD drive—the whole motherboard, actually—is upside down. That doesn't appear to affect the reliability or performance at all.

The DVD drive is the flimsy snap-in kind used in laptops so discs can be loaded upside down. Once I rip my CDs and install a few old programs, I'll probably never use it again.

As for my first impressions, granted, I started with low expectations, but the HP 290-p0043w has exceeded them by a wide margin. The other benefit of being a late adopter is that just about any new thing will feel like a vast improvement.

Related posts

From XP to X (benchmarks)
From XP to X (software)
Cool it

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# posted by Blogger Joe
7/16/2019 11:01 PM   
When you have a few bucks to spare, put in an SSD drive. Better yet, I'll give you one for Christmas. Is 120GB sufficient?
# posted by Blogger Eugene
7/17/2019 11:02 AM   
The two SATA ports are in use but the motherboard has an open NVMe M.2 slot. I'll probably get another 4 GB of RAM and a 500 GB SSD. One other problem is that you have to practically dismantle the whole computer in the process so I'll procrastinate until the warranty runs out.
# posted by Blogger Chris
7/24/2019 5:37 PM   
Windows 10 in lite-duty use as you've described will run just fine with 4GB RAM. The biggest bang-for-your-buck upgrade is moving the OS from the "spinning rust" HDD to a solid-state drive--there really is no comparison to be made. 120GB is enough to get by, but 250 is a better long-term choice.

The HP spec page you linked to is rather ambiguous, so I strongly suggest poking HP support and finding out exactly what that M.2 SSD port supports. Though the connectors are similar, such hardware is either SATA-III or PCI Express, and cannot be used interchangeably. Given the nature of the hardware, I suspect it uses SATA as those M.2 drives are considerably cheaper. FWIW, I frequently see sales for HP-branded hardware on Newegg, so even if support refers you to a part in the HP store, you can use that info to find compatible parts cheaper elsewhere.
# posted by Blogger Joe
7/25/2019 11:52 AM   
From what I could glean, it supports an M.2 2280 key M (NVMe and PCIe x4.)