July 13, 2022

Speeding up the Slimline

My main machine is a bargain basement HP Slimline 290 with 4 GB RAM and a Celeron G4900 CPU. Less than $300 at Walmart. Thanks to the UEFI BIOS, GPT, and a dual-core CPU, it actually qualifies to run Windows 11! But I'll put that off until Windows 10 reaches end-of-life in another three years.

Doubling the RAM to 8 GB and adding a 500 GB SSD costs less than $100. Budget-wise, it's a no-brainer. Except I mostly run Chrome, Word, Notepad++, and JWPce (a Japanese text editor). With the unnecessary screen effects and background apps turned off, Windows 10 is surprisingly snappy.

(The first half of this video explains how to lighten the load with the standard Windows settings. The second half using the recommended utility didn't make as big a difference, perhaps because I'd already disabled many of the startup processes.)

The computer only bogs down noticeable when editing high-resolution cover art in Paint Shop Pro 2019. I don't do that very often so I wasn't in a hurry.

But then the system battery on the motherboard died, which resulted in a Groundhog Day moment. One day when booting up, I glanced at the login screen and said to myself, "Huh. I thought today was Friday." A minute later, the OS pinged the timeserver and it was indeed Friday.
When the battery dies, the CMOS stores the last logout date. The documentation gives the battery a lifespan of three years, so it failed right on schedule. Upgrading the RAM and installing an NVMe M.2 SDD is no more difficult than replacing the battery. This was as good an excuse as any.

YouTube comes in handy for jobs like this. HP has a how-to guide and David Noble did a how-to on the same model as mine. The one major obstacle, the drives cage, has to be removed to access the battery, RAM, and M.2 slots. The only unexpected variable here turned out to be the three Torx 15 screws.
I could have wrestled them off with a pair of pliers, but at times like this, the Tim "The Toolman" Taylor gene kicks in. Home Depot has a Klein 4-in-1 Torx screwdriver for ten bucks. Who knows, it may come in handy again one day.

As it turns out, Torx screws actually are easier to work with than Phillips ("plus") screwheads. Though I'd recommend adding a little piece of tape to the Klein driver to keep the bit from falling out of the holder.

Not counting dropping stuff (I forgot about the WiFi keyboard dongle and it popped off too), the whole job took less than 20 minutes. Honestly, the hardest part was replacing the battery. The RAM snapped right in as did the SSD. I did need this M.2 screw kit as one doesn't come pre-installed.
I put everything back together, crossed my fingers, and booted to BIOS. The BIOS reported 4 GB of RAM in both banks for a total of 8 GB and the 500 GB Samsung 980 SSD in the PCIe M.2 slot. Much easier than I expected.

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# posted by Blogger baihaki
7/14/2022 4:18 PM   
Nice. Dead CMOS battery usually just causing an annoying wrong time. But sometimes there's an app that require correct time and it could behave funny.