Laptop tweaking(?)

By Dan S. · 11 replies
Jun 21, 2002
  1. Laptop tweking(?)


    I've built several PC's from scratch over the years, and I know the BIOS setups well, and how to get a desktop to hum... but I've never approached a laptop before, aside from an end-user point of view. Borrowed one or two briefly, found them to be very slow...

    Well, work just required me to buy one, so I found a slightly damaged (crack in the back casing) Dell Latitude CPi D300X, which has a Pentium II 300, 6.4 gig hd, 56k modem, 24x cd, and I'm upgrading to the max of RAM -- 256 of EDO (all it can take is EDO, unfortunately).

    I'm going to do a clean install of XP on it, as it fits all the specs, and I figure that will give me added speed. But I want to make it as fast as possible, and I have no clue how to tweak a laptop for speed. I'm not even sure how I might improve the BIOS. Anyone have any ideas? Is there a tweak proggie I can get for it? Are there settings I should know about??? What can I do to make it faster?

    I don't get the machine until tomorrow, so this is a bit premature... for all I know it will hum along just fine. But I'm used to running my home PCs, which are Athlon 1.7 XP's with tons of DDR... :(


  2. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,730   +379

    Welcome to TechSpot forums

    Latitude CPi running XP.... Dell don't think so...

    I'm currently using an Inspiron 7000 (366 PII) and it isn't supported by Dell for XP either. Remember that you can't just get any old driver for laptop hardware as each has specific hardware differences. If the manufacturers don't provide support for XP then you will probably find that you will have loads of problems.
    For instance, running Windows 2000 Pro on my laptop means I can utilise the Direct3d and OpenGL abilities of its ATI Rage Pro Mobility graphics card as there are no drivers available. BIOS updates work in pretty much the same way as desktops so you shouldn't have a problem there. I used Powerstrip graphics overclocking utility when I was running Windows98 on my laptop and it gave me a little more fps in games ;) but really I don't think you will be able to tweak the hardware that much. If I remember rightly Microsoft recommend at least a 300Mhz PII to run Windows 2000. Not sure if the XP recommendations are different. Also worth noting is that XP is likely to steal a more substantial amount of your hard disk space than a Windows 98SE installation. I personally would be thinking about installing 98...
  3. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,730   +379

    Windows XP requirements
    Windows 98 requirements
  4. Dan S.

    Dan S. TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I don't think that 1.5 gigs out of 6.5 is unreasonable for XP... I'll let you know, but from all I am told -- from Microsoft and Dell -- XP should work fine on this laptop. It's a Windows NT-based system to begin with.

    I was hoping someone might have some BIOS or other tweaks of some sort...
  5. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,730   +379

    PowerStrip at Entechtaiwan...
    Seriously I used to have latitude CPi 266Mhz and I will be surprised if it will run XP. I would verify this before buying a copy of XP for it.

    Not much in the way of drivers...
    Latitude CPi XP drivers

    It will probably run but I don't think you will get complete functionality of the system. Believe me I have talked with Dell Support about my Inspiron's video card and whether they would be coming out with some drivers for W2k but got a negative response.
    Anyway I hope this information is of some use...
  6. Dan S.

    Dan S. TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for your input, and for the links :)

    First, let me tell you that I have several "techie" friends (IT professionals) who tell me that many computer maufacturers -- Dell, very much among them -- discourage use of XP in their PC's that are more than a couple of years old. Some say they do it to get people to upgrade and abandon their old PCs... but for whatever reason, they are giving bad information. I have a friend who runs an IT department at a local college who runs XP with 64 mb of memory on Pentium 1 machines, as low as 133's. And though he doesn't get the game performance that he might on a newer machine (he doesn't do much heavy gaming, nor do I) he finds that XP speeds up the system and increases ease of use greatly, so he installs it in most of the college's PCs.

    I have a Dell Dimension Desktop with a Pentium II 250 -- the only PC I own that I didn't build myself -- that had 128 mb of sdram, and XP works beautifully on it, for every application, even intense games. Yet, go to the Dell site (or talk to a Dell tech support person, as I did) and they'll tell you it won't work, or at least not well. Also, notice that Dell made their old PCs almost impossible to upgrade...maybe for sales reasons.

    In any case, the laptop I'm getting (tomorrow) is a Latitude CPi D300XT, which is not on Microsoft's or Dell's XP list. Yet it has a 300 Mhz Pentium II, and I just bought two 128 meg EDO memory chips, which will put it to 256 mb or RAM. I will find out about all the drivers when I load it and run the compatibility test, but I have had XP since last summer (when I was a beta tester) and I went through all the growing pains of XP, and now I find it has drivers for just about everything, or quite usable drivers of some sort.

    Despite the fact that Dell doesn't list this laptop among the recommended XP machines, here's is the XP compatibility list:

    Here's What You Need to Use Windows XP Professional
    PC with 300 megahertz or higher processor clock speed recommended; 233 MHz minimum required (single or dual processor system);* Intel Pentium/Celeron family, or AMD K6/Athlon/Duron family, or compatible processor recommended
    128 megabytes (MB) of RAM or higher recommended (64 MB minimum supported; may limit performance and some features)
    1.5 gigabytes (GB) of available hard disk space*
    Super VGA (800 × 600) or higher-resolution video adapter and monitor
    CD-ROM or DVD drive
    Keyboard and Microsoft Mouse or compatible pointing device
    Additional Items or Services Required to Use Certain Windows XP Features
    For Internet access:
    Some Internet functionality may require Internet access, a Microsoft .NET Passport account, and payment of a separate fee to a service provider; local and/or long-distance telephone toll charges may apply
    14.4 kilobits per second (Kbps) or higher-speed modem

    This laptop has all of this and more, so I doubt I will have too many problems. In fact, reading the Microsoft site, I found that XP has many features built in specifically to improve laptop performance, which 98 and the others don't. And remember, the Latitude CPi was built for and sold with Windows NT, which is the platform on which XP is based.

    So... I'm keeping my fingers crossed, and I'll let you know what happens tomorrow night, hopefully typing a new message from my new (used) laptop!

    Thanks again,


    PS... A myth I want to clear up somehow, wish I could tell everyone with systems that require EDO memory (vs. SDRAM or DDR)... every computer dealer site I went to... probably nearly 100 of them... either did not sell 128 meg laptop EDO sticks or sold them for $200-$300. They all sell 32 and 64 meg chips, and the 64s tend to g for about $40. But the 128s jump to $200 or more! I couldn't believe it... I called a couple of the dealers and they said that the memory companies stopped making 128 sticks, which sucks, because the Latitude CPi and others can only use EDO, and have two 128 meg slots for them, and whether you use XP or 98, laptops need as much RAM as possible for speed.

    Then, I found one site that not only has plenty of 128 EDO laptop sticks, but they sell them for about $75 each. Excuse me for advertising for them, but they deserve it... it's I found it on

    I told a sales rep at another PC sales site that specializes in memory that I finally found the 128 EDO for laptops at a reasonable price. He told me there was no way that the dealer could be selling it for that price, or even at all, because the companies supposedly all stopped making the 128 EDO laptop chips, and, he said, "there are none out there anywhere."

    "That company is selling you bogus memory that's probably not even made for your laptop, and if it is, it's probably made by some fourth-rate company, and it's not going to work well, if at all, in your laptop," he said. "There's a lot of shysters out there, especially advertising on PriceWatch. I'll be surprised if you ever even get the memory you paid for, and if you do, it won't be the right memory and it won't work. If you do get it, and it does work, call me back and I'll buy out their whole inventory, because we get requests for this every day, and I have to tell everyone the same thing... you can't buy that memory anymore, so you'd better buy a better laptop."

    Well... the memory came today. It's 128 meg, and it's made by Dell. I checked out all the specs with Dell, and sure enough, it's theirs. The people I bought it from said they have tons of it. And though EDO is slower than SDRAM, I looked at the benchmarks, and the difference is fairly small.

    I didn't call the other dealer back. He doesn't deserve my time, he filled me full of lies. If anyone needs EDO, DON'T pay the high prices, there's no need to.

    So, I have a slightly damaged Dell laptop (only damage is a small crack in the back of the case) that I paid $250 for, and it's loaded with 256 of RAM that cost me another $150 or so. I can't find anything comparable for anywhere near that price anywhere on the Web... for that price, you get a Pentium 75 with 8 megs of RAM and a 2 gig hard drive. You can get the laptops at AND... reading the reviews show that the Latitude CPi D300XT was one of the 10 best laptops sold in 1999, and all they do is rave about it, on every level (aside from sound, so I bought some nice little speakers).

    I think I'll be very happy... guess I can't tweak much though, eh?

  7. Dan S.

    Dan S. TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Oh, one more thing (sorry for the length)....

    I won't have to buy XP anyway, I have a broadly-licensed version of XP Professional that doesn't require registering with Microsoft. So I can load it on any number of PCs, which is nice (and the way it should be for everyone). Got it from a good friend. I also own a couple versions of Win 98SE, and ever (ouch) a copy of Win ME.

  8. Dan S.

    Dan S. TS Rookie Topic Starter


    I'm sorry, one more thing... thanks for the link to the Dell driver page for XP and my laptop... but two questions:

    1. Why the UK site instead of the US site?

    2. Where can I get the BIOS update, or does this include it?


  9. Dan S.

    Dan S. TS Rookie Topic Starter


    This laptop was advertised as slightly damaged, with a crack in the casing (one of many the dealer is selling).... but there's not a scratch on it! It's perfect, it runs XP beautifully. A big advantage of XP is that it had so many drivers included, and XP had the modem card driver and even the NeoMagic 2160 video driver, which isn't even being made anymore (except, apparently, by open source programmers, who are posting code for a driver that I can't make use of...).

    It's fast, on the web, booting up, everything... the bios is version 12, too, and though there are some updated ones -- I can't seem to find them -- the laptop runs smoothly, so I am hesitant to mess with it.

    So, let it be known...XP works with systems beyond Dell's claims.

    I have a few more q's, but I'm going to start another thread, in hope that I catch some attention.

  10. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,730   +379

    Glad to here you have it working.
    XP must have a better driver set than Windows 2000 Pro because there is no way I can get my 3d graphics adapter working in 2000 :(
    The reason that my dell links are in the UK is because I used my own dell support link for my laptop to get to the drivers page and being in the UK my link is bookmarked to the UK site, Sorry ;)
    Plus the US site wants me to register with the site to access the support information :mad:

    Does it have a DVD drive and 3d graphics adapter. If so I would be interested to hear if you got them working with any drivers.
    I am aware of the requirements for XP but generally this refers to any PC, whereas since a laptop has all its PCI, AGP and motherboard components mounted on one PCB it usually requires specific drivers from the manufacturers to run everything as it should. This is the main reason why I provided the information about compatibility. Hope everything continues running as smoothly as it is. Note: In the past when I have upgraded to a new operating system with new drivers for system components it has been necessary to update the BIOS also (according to Dell's drivers :rolleyes: ).

    According to the UK bios flash updates available A12 is the latest version so you shouldn't have to worry about updating it.
    Dell Latitude CPi BIOS files (Dell UK support site)
  11. Dan S.

    Dan S. TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Laptop tweaks


    Ahh, I see...I just saw your profile, and you're from the U.K.! Wow, are you single? :) I know you're intelligent... maybe we could try emailing, you should have my address...:)

    Now, sorry for sounding like Microsoft promotion specialist, but perhaps the best of all of XP's beauties... and there are many ... is that it answers all of your listed concerns. At first, when XP came out last fall, there were lots of driver issues, nobody had made them yet. But XP has many, many more drivers built in than 2000 did, and what it doesn't have in its original cd, it will identify for you as needing when you go to the new XP update page. There, it even links you to 3rd party drivers that your system needs, line Nvidea display drivers or VIA chipset drivers. Provides the link, the version you need, and then it goes and gets them :)
    Don't let anyone ever tell you that drivers are a problem with XP. That is now completely untrue.

    I am considering updating the BIOS, but this is a used machine that came with a BIOS #12, which is fairly well updated. If I could find a better one, or someone could point me there, I'd appreciate it. My advice: Dell's Web site will be all but useless to you unless you talk to a Dell tech and they tell you where to look. Instead, go to Microsoft's site and look under Windows Update, and see if your driver is there. Best place to look is at the manufacturer's site.

    Listen, nice lady, you helped me, let me help you... what's the name/model of your graphics adapter? I'll find you a windows 2000 driver if you'd like... I have sources . And what's the name and model of your DVD player? I'll help there too...!

    Oddly, XP even had a driver for my NeoMagic 2160 video adaptor, and NeoMagic is out of business now. I'm still looking for a more updated version of that driver though.
    Thanks, hot stuff!!!

  12. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,730   +379

    :eek: :blush:
    I just had to check my profile to verify that it doesn't say I am female. And it doesn't. Do I really come over as a nice lady??? :confused:

    Been referred to as a nice man quite often, and I would like to think I am... both man and nice ;)

    Anyway, the laptop I am using is owned by my company and for the remote administration of it, I believe it has to be running Windows 2000. I will check microsofts w2k update site for video drivers but I have already contacted a dell tech (argued that the ATI RAGE Mobility was a 3d graphics adapter and should be able to run OpenGl and Direct3d, and was told that it was not a true 3d graphics adapter. Even though I had it all working fine in 98SE) which was a waste of time. ATI's support says to contact the laptop's manufacturer for drivers, which I believe is due to the fact that it is dell who oversee the integration of the ATI graphics processor into their laptop motherboard/PCB.

    Anway I will check the w2k site for any possible driver and hopefully find something.
    Thanks for posting back with the information you have found out about your own questions. Hopefully it will prove to be useful to someone else in the future.
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