Large drive upgrade – Toshiba M30

 


Well, as referenced in my first (previous) blog I had upgraded my hard drive in my Toshiba M30 laptop in preparation for a clean Vista Ultimate installation.


I purchased a Seagate Momentus 5400.3 160GB Ultra ATA/100 5400rpm drive (ST9160821A) to replace my Toshiba 80GB 4200rpm drive.  I searched around to see if anyone had any feedback on these larger drives installed in laptops to see whether there was anything to be concerned about.  Since I was certain this was something I wanted to do, I just wanted to make sure there weren’t any “gotchas” that would make my new drive an expensive paperweight.


I picked it up online at NCIX as they had the best price and shipping charges I could find at that time at a place that had stock – it was just a tad over $200, plus about $9 to ship.


I zipped up and copied off all the data I was expecting to use from the old 80GB drive then proceeded to remove it.  I removed the cage from the old drive and installed in on the new drive.  It was a matter of about 10 minutes and the new drive was installed.


I powered up the laptop and inserted the Vista DVD.  The laptop booted up to the DVD without issue. 


During the installation of Vista, at the point where you are to choose the partition, I was greeted with unpartitioned space of 128GB.  Not exactly what I had hoped for, but acceptable given the circumstances.  The laptop BIOS doesn’t support 48-bit LBA and therefore I was limited to between 128GB and 137GB depending on the hard drive controller.  The next largest drive from Seagate for a laptop in 5400rpm or 7200rpm is only 100GB and I wanted more space – so the 32GB I am missing is still 28GB more than the next available size that is smaller.  Besides, at some point there *should* be a BIOS upgrade – either vendor or third-party that should give me back my 32GB.  If and when this happens, I’ll need to image it, update the BIOS and re-image it back to it’s former glory.


I sent Seagate’s Support people an email asking about their DiscWizard software which installs a Dynamic Drive Overlay onto the drive that should allow the BIOS to see the full size of the drive.  Since I had read stories about Vista overwriting the DDO on drives, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t testing a theory only to fail at my expense.  Their reply was that DDO wasn’t tested against Vista yet AND it wasn’t designed for notebook drives.  Kind of makes me glad I never tried it now!  So the answer to DDO on laptop drives is DON’T DO IT.  As far as other drives with Vista as the OS – I still don’t know.


Regardless, I now have Vista Ultimate installed on a 128GB drive running Office 2007 – I have to admit, the performance boost just from the RPM difference alone is noticeable – the extra 1200rpm is certainly an improvement.


The really nice thing about this drive is that it’s quiet – so quiet, in fact, that I have a hard time knowing it’s spinning.  When I first turned the laptop on after it was installed I couldn’t hear it at all.  I originally thought it didn’t power up, but when Vista saw the unpartitioned space I had a big sigh of relief.  Even under load from AV scanning or defragging it’s very tough to know it’s doing anything and if it wasn’t for the LED I would still be wondering.  :o)


My advice to those Power Users that are looking to upgrade their drive – BUY THIS DRIVE !!  You won’t regret it.


Cheers,


Paul

Vista / Windows 7 Ultimate with nVidia Go5200 – there is hope!

Hello World!
 
You know, I’ve been thinking of Blogging for a very long time – I now have a great reason to start tonight!  For those lucky enough to stumble upon this entry, please be gentle!
 
I am a Microsoft MVP on Server Systems – Directory Services as well as an MCSE.  I was lucky enough to be able to participate in the Vista, IE7 and Longhorn Beta programs (as well as others) and actually submit some bugs.  Whether or not my contributions made any impact at all is no small question since Microsoft actually does look at all the bugs submitted and replies to them.  Every contribution, no matter how trivial it may seem to most people (or perhaps even to yourself) is treated equally within the Program and I think it shows in the quality of the end product we have today. 
 
Firstly, let’s start off by giving you a little background on the purpose of tonight’s blog. 
 
I am currently running Vista Ultimate with Office 2007 on a Toshiba M30 Special Edition laptop.  You might ask why this is significant?  Well, I have a Centrino 1.6GHz processor, 1.5GB of RAM, 160GB hard drive (which is another topic for a blog – stay tuned) and a video card that isn’t quite up to par for the Ultimate look and feel – an nVidia Go5200 64M.
 
Before I began my quest to make this laptop show me the much-touted Aero Glass interface I had a Windows Experience Index of a measly 1.0 strictly due to the poor rating of the video card.  As I write this now, I have a new rating of 2.0 – just enough to give me the Aero Glass effect which was the purpose of this excercise.  Now, I’m sure that in time drivers will be released to optimize things much better for mid-range laptop video, but I wanted it NOW!
 
The tweak I am about to show you is a combination of information gathered from many sources – all of which came close, but didn’t do enough to explain things in the needed detail for most people.  Be warned that I take no responsibility for any mishaps that may occur while you attempt this.  This article simply outlines what seemed to work well for me – it may not always work for others. 
 
USE AT YOUR OWN RISK!
 
This *should* work on any laptop that has an nVidia Go5200 video card installed in it.  In fact, the concept here may work for many different models of video cards and their respective drivers provided the driver base is similar – there are no guarantees.
 
1)  Download the Vista Beta drivers from here:  http://www.nvidia.com/object/winvista_x86_96.85.html keep in mind, there may be newer or released drivers available – so look around after you download these, it’s VERY important to get the WHQL version of drivers.  If you prefer to use released drivers, then try your luck downloading the latest Forceware set.  Save them to a folder off the root of your hard drive.
 
**Update: January 16th, 2007 – there are newer Released drivers for Vista now but they still do not support a vast number of lower-end cards.  The link is here: http://www.nvidia.com/object/winvista_x86_97.46.html – however, they didn’t play nice on my machine.  I had issues with no video when returning from Suspend or Sleep and the display would not go past Level 1 in brightness.  Use these drivers if you dare, but be warned.  The link for v96.85 is still live for now.
 
2)  Run the executable to extract the drivers to the same folder – cancel the install after the files have been extracted.
 
3)  Download the NEWEST Windows XP video drivers that are specifically for your laptop – get them from the laptop vendor’s site.  It’s important to get the proper driver as we need a few things from the .INF file that identifies exactly your card.
 
4)  Run the executable from these drivers and extract them to a second folder on the root of your hard drive.  Once again, stop the installation after the files are extracted.  You can choose to put them in a folder inside the first one you created – just be sure not to mix the two up.
 
** NOTE: the factory drivers may simply be a self-extracting archive that can be extracted manually using WinRAR, WinZip or even the built-in feature in XP or Vista.  This may save you from running the .EXE and being unable to stop it before it installs too much. 
 
5)  From the factory driver set, find and open the .INF file for the install – mine was named, NVTS.INF.  Leave it open in the editor.
 
6)  From the Vista or newest Release of Forceware, find and open the .INF for that install – the Vista drivers had a file named, NV_DISP.INF.
 
7)  Scroll down in the FACTORY inf and copy the line under one of the following headings:
 
[NVIDIA.Mfg.NTx86.5.1] or [NVIDIA.Mfg]
 
it should look something like this: 
 
%NVIDIA_NV34.DEV_0328.4% = nv4_NV34_M2,    PCI\VEN_10DE&DEV_0328&SUBSYS_00301179
 
Do not copy my line, as it may not be exactly the same as what your factory inf file contained.
 
8)  Paste the line you copied above into the Vista or Release driver inf file under the same section as the other entries that are similar – in the Vista inf it was located under this heading:
 
[NVIDIA.Mfg.NTx86.6.0]
 
Scroll through the entries below that heading and paste your device entry in the correct place – mine happened to be the 13th entry under that heading.
 
9)  This part is important.  Replace the section of the entry you just pasted  that reads nv4_NV34_M2, with: nv_NV3x, so your entry looks like this now:
 
 
%NVIDIA_NV34.DEV_0328.4% = nv_NV3x,    PCI\VEN_10DE&DEV_0328&SUBSYS_00301179
 
 
10)  Go back to the FACTORY inf file and scroll down to the bottom – look for the following heading:
 
; Localizable Strings
 
Copy the entry that describes your card – likely this one (or similar):
 
NVIDIA_NV34.DEV_0328.4 = “NVIDIA GeForce FX Go5200 32M/64M   “
 
11)  Return to the Vista or Release inf file and scroll down to the bottom under the same heading as step 10.  Paste your entry in the proper order.
 
12)  Save the modified INF file for the new driver set you are going to use.
 
13)  Close ALL open windows, except the one open to your new driver setup.
 
14)  Run the Setup.exe from the new driver set and follow the prompts.  You *probably* will see a warning that Vista cannot confirm the Publisher of the drivers – this is expected, but before proceeding be sure you downloaded the drivers from the vendor so you can trust them.  Reboot when complete.
 
To enable Aero Glass, right click on the Desktop and select Personalize.
Click on Windows Color and Appearance.
Under color scheme, you should now have an entry for Windows Aero at the top.
Select it and press OK.
 
Enjoy!!
 
Here’s what my Video settings look like now with the new Vista drivers: