Byte Me Article 271 – Craptops

Buyer Beware; Check the RAM

This week I am going to have a little rant and as is often the case the article source has come from one of our customers’ at the shop from this week.  In this case it was a new customer who had purchased a new $597 laptop from one of the largest retail chain stores.  The laptop was a Lenovo G40-45 with 14” screen and was running Windows 10 already.  In fact this model is still for sale right now.

So why did the customer come to us?  It was in his words “through sheer frustration” because of the speed of the laptop.  He was sure that it was faulty and wanted a tech to look at it and give a report so that he could take it back.  I spoke to the customer myself and set the laptop to turn on while he was with me.

9.5 minutes is the amount of time that I will never get back which is how long it took to boot up into Windows before I could use it for anything.  Then connecting it to our Wi-Fi network and getting the default Web page up took another 4 minutes of watching the ‘system busy’ symbol.  I started to think it was indeed faulty so I set about opening the system logs and looking for a failed hard drive – another 4 minutes of wasted time.

2016-05-07 Byte Me Article 271 - Craptops

So far I had spent nearly 20 minutes in front of this device and there were no signs of failing hardware.  I invested another minute to look at the system specs and it was then that I realised the main part of the problem – it only had 2GB of ram!  So are we in the year 2016 when ram has become literally as cheap as chips and when we haven’t sold a laptop with less than 8GB of ram for the last 5 years?

The simple laptop operations that have just cost me the last 20 minutes would normally take just 1 minute on our base model laptops.  This sounds like a crazy comparison however it is not an inflated fishing story – it is true and factual.  Any modern computer should have at least 4GB of ram and preferably 8GB.  If you are into serious photo editing or computer gaming then 16GB will provide a useful difference – however laptops with 2GB of ram should not be on the market.

The other interesting thing about this laptop was the fact that it had a reasonable CPU with a benchmark rating of 2100 and a 500GB hard drive.  It did have all the usual Lenovo software junk and that also contributed to its slowness.  The customer realised that it was actually not faulty and therefore not returnable and gave us permission to turn it into something worthwhile, which I guaranteed was entirely possible.

So $220 later with 8GB of ram, some 30 junk programs uninstalled, Windows updated, Drivers updated, Essential programs installed and some serious Windows speed tweaks done it was finally a useable device.  Complete start up time to a point when it could be used was just under 40 seconds – remember it was previously 9 minutes!  But best of all the customer was happy.

Windows XP ran OK with 2GB of ram 10 years ago, but still preferred 4GB.  Windows Vista needed as much ram as possible and 8GB was the sweet spot.  Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and now 10 can get by on 4GB but again 8GB is the sweet spot.  But try 2GB in a laptop with heaps of junk software (bloatware) and it is a recipe for disaster.

The other interesting thing is that for the same total spend the customer could have had one of our Hewlett Packard business grade laptops with the same end specs but another 15% CPU power and all of the benefits of a top grade product.  Buyer beware! 

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 49 222 400.

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