More Laptop Woes!

Why do I keep posting about laptops?

Who knows.

I’m looking for someone to modify a Phoenix BIOS for me. I have a Gateway ML3706 with a date code of sometime around November of 2006. this is a laptop that uses this motherboard:
4006148R – Motherboard UMA w/ATI RC415MD w/o 1394

This motherboard seems to be applicable to all of these models:
MX3101b MX3102j MX3103b MX3138m MX3139m MX3140m MX3141m MX3142m MX3143m MX3701 MX3702
MT3104b MT3105j MT3107b MT3110c MT3111c MT3112c MT3705 MT3707 MT3708 MT3710c MT3711c
MT3713c <== (Newest model, sold w/ Core Duo T2130 @ 1.86GHz & 1GB DDR2-667)
ML3109 ML3706
NX270S


as all of these models have or had at one point, BIOS 83.05 available to them to ugprade to.
I recently found the 83.10 BIOS for the MT3000 series on Gateway’s FTP through some digging on Google. This can be found below along with the 83.05 BIOS ripped from my laptop.

My particular laptop originally came with a Pentium Dual-Core T2060 (Yonah) CPU running at a blistering 1.6GHz– this seems to be the most generic CPU option shipped, with some getting a T2080 or some level of same-sped Core Duo. On a whim, I went and upgraded this to a T2080 I found in an E1505 carcass, with not much improvement. I then went and decided, “well, I have this Core 2 T7200 here, and I don’t know if it’s any good, so let’s just throw it in and see what sparks fly out.”

I wasn’t expecting anything to happen because this is a Yonah platform with a Radeon XPress 200M (RC415ME, “ATI RC410MB/MD/ME+SB450 Bonefish Board” appears in the BIOS information) as the chipset.
it worked.

Image

Both cores work fine, and CPU-Z and HWInfo32 seem to say that Virtualization and 64-bit instructions are seen properly. I’ve also been able to make sure that it’ll boot a 64-bit system by booting off an amd64 build of clonezilla from a flashdrive. The only thing that doesn’t work natively seems to be anything in the regard of Speedstep or C1E or what have you C-states. Both cores are stuck at 2GHz. RMclock does wonders at that point and allows for speedstep scaling down to 1GHz with all states and stuff enabled from there, but I want to be able to have the ability to run a 64-bit version of Windows on this, and RMclock will not run reliably on that platform without some driver modification etc. and I’d rather not go all through that mess.

Speaking of 64-bit, I’ve also confirmed this laptop’s motherboard will boot with 4GB installed, but it is capped at 3GB, 2.89GB with video memory set to 128MB. anything above 2.89 is also inaccessible in 64-bit Linux as well, so it isn’t a “omg ur using a 32bit os this is totally why you idiot lolololol xD” issue. The XPress 200 can take 4GB easy on AMD laptops, but I’m unsure if this is because the Turion64/X2’s I’ve seen also have their own memory controller like their Athlon64/Sempron Socket S1G1 counterparts. All information I’m seeing for the Intel-compatible Xpress 200 says a 2GB memory ceiling, but most of those boards with that chipset are older than this laptop. I’d love to see if there was an actual BIOS memory limit. I’m seeing also some stuff off ASRock’s site for an XPress 200-based motherboard that says although it will take 4GB, there’s a chipset limitation, so I’m not too hopeful. this chipset isn’t the most well-documented and has been highly despised for the last decade by many for its poor graphics capabilities.

 

Here’s a screenshot that shows that it sees all 4GB, but it only allows for 2.89GB to be used. Once again, it’s seemingly a BIOS limitation:

Image


So now that I can at least confirm that this laptop will take a CPU originally never meant to ever run on this platform, and reliably at that, there are a number of objectives that really need to happen with the 83.10 BIOS to make it anything worthwhile to anyone else in the world that may have this laptop, and would want to improve what little more performance that can be squeezed out of it. These objectives are as follows:

 

  • – SPD Settings unlocked as they are in the 83.05 BIOS
  • – Speedstep and C1E functions and menu items enabled if at all possible
  • – Artificial Memory Limit removed (if any?)
  • – find anything else that is possible to unlock in terms of chipset or CPU configuration.


Doing all of this to an 83.05 BIOS save for the SPD unlocking (since that’s already there) would also be an option, since I don’t know if anything major changed from 83.05 to 83.10…

TL;DR or “So what we’ve learned so far from this”:

  • – Motherboard shared by 26 generic worldwide models all with the same specs
  • – Socket M Core 2 Duo (Merom) CPUs seem to work fully with full-blown 667MHz FSB, but no speedstep
  • – Memory allows for DDR2-667 sticks to be used just fine.
  • – Memory can go up to 400MHz (DDR2-800), but setting it to 400MHz with non-400MHz RAM requires the CMOS to be reset through a full tear-down and battery re-seat
  • – Memory cap at 3GB regardless that the XPress 200M can supposedly support up to 4GB, and it’s possibly limited in the BIOS since the cap also happens under a 64-bit OS.
  • – ALL TOASTERS TOAST TOAST


My other ulterior motive for this is to get this laptop into ship-shape condition so I can mess with an eGPU on the expresscard54 slot, but that isn’t too important. If anyone can help in making this a possibility, I’m more than grateful. I’m sorry for the wall of text, but there’s no easy way to explain out everything cleanly.

The other issue that seems to be present is that the 83.10 BIOS might not be able to be opened in the Phoenix BIOS editor etc. and I’m sure of that. the 83.05 BIOS linked below should still be alright to do the above modifications save for the SPD modification, that’s already visible and working out of the box. the strings in the BIOS shows there’s more than meets the eye, I’m just clueless as to how to go about this myself.

Links:

Gateway 83.05 BIOS from ML3706 Support Page (now defunct, download link still works, though)

Gateway 83.10 BIOS from MT3000 files on Gateway eSupport FTP

Perhaps someone will come across this and help in my quest to make this lesser-known line of laptops better. I’ve also cross-posted this information on the NotebookReview Forums (and pretty much copypasta’d a good chunk of this post from there) so excuse me if I’m a bit blunt on some things.

Here is a picture of the laptop:

Image

Once again, taken on the bed at Grandma’s. Woohoo.

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Latitude E4200: One Month Later

if I haven’t mentioned it already, I own one of these. For the most part, I’m happy– but there’s definitely the list of upsides, downsides, and the quirks, that come along with having an ultraportable such as this.

I bought it to have a small, lightweight laptop running Linux that I could do normal day-to-day things on, such as surf the Internet including having the capability to decode HD Youtube videos without issue, Skype (with webcam) and IRC at a constant. Anything it’s able to do extra from there is a bonus. I picked it up off eBay for $104, and that was with the extended battery (with like no wear on it, amazingly!), two 45W power adapters, and a FREE MOUSE. HOLY CHRIST A FREE MOUSE WOOHOO I’M RICH.

okay no. I’m not rich. but the mouse I was given looks like it had a very limited run in its time, and has the same imaging sensor as the Logitech G5 mouse, apparently? It looks like this:

41sayD9JL2L._SX300_

it’s not a bad mouse. setting #2 is great in constrained situations… settings 3 and 4 are superaccurate at higher speeds, I’m assuming this would be better with different settings in a game or something to take advantage of that. but settings 1 and 2 are enough for me.

Overall I’m pleasantly surprised and pleased with my purchase. I did look in the BIOS and I am aware that Computrace is locked to the on position, but that doesn’t concern me as Computrace can’t penetrate any OS but Windows. but that does mean this laptop was once in either an environment that required it, or it was enabled by the last owner– the laptop’s lid is pretty beat up, having some surface cracks here and there… but it works. the SSD I’m the most surprised about. the machine boots up in less than 15 seconds with Debian installed and running. The battery, being almost new, grabs me someplace between 5 and 7 hours of battery time, but I haven’t tested its actual run time yet. I haven’t been in a position where I need that much time off the battery yet– Aside from the ~1h visit to both my grandma’s doctor appointments this past month, I haven’t been out of her house or my own house and sitting someplace where there hasn’t been a wall outlet available to me. That said, the 45w adapter is this puny thing that takes almost no space in the bottom of the laptop bag, so it’s not much of a nuisance to just pack one along for the ride if at all.

I haven’t done much else as far as pushing the thing save for watching Youtube videos and whatever anime series it is that I’m watching this week via mplayer, but it’s able to handle even those tasks just fine. My only gripe is how hot it gets– the U9600 has a tendency to idle in the mid to high 40C range, and this can be unpleasant feeling on the lap or left arm (this is where the small vent is.) After a repaste the temperatures dropped only a couple of degrees– I blame cheapness of the heatsink itself to being the issue. I have plans when I finally decide to take a trip to a hackerspace or to Grand Rapids itself, to CNC a proper square out to put a copper shim in, or somehow find a way to drop-forge copper in the square hole milled. but that would require melting the copper.     ….but that’s another thing for another day.