Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Gateway P-7811FX Laptop

A few years ago I bought a Gateway P-7811FX laptop - it's a gaming powerhouse, and weighs a ton, but it IS portable. Sorta. 2 hrs battery time means you won't be using it without a power outlet nearby.

It worked fine after I updated the bios to 028 and the graphics drivers back 2 yrs ago. No issues until I upgraded it to Windows 7 - then it became unstable: rebooting without warning, blue screens, hanging when transferring files, etc.

After a bit of research, I decided to format the HD and install Win 7 from scratch. Note that I have upgraded this laptop by adding a second HD - a 320gb Seagate 7200rpm drive that matches (nearly) the seagate 200gb drive they used as the boot drive. The original was partitioned as 88gb and 88gb, with a separate section for recovery, etc.

So I had 88gb, 88gb, and 300gb partitions on 2 drives.

I copied the important files I cared about onto the second drive - the 300gb. I used Macrium to back up the C and D and put that on the 300gb drive as well.

I also had a HDD password on the 200gb boot HD, for security.

So I reinstalled Win 7 as a new install, applied all the patches, installed all the needed drivers, and all was going perfectly! No real heat issues as have been reported by others with this laptop, and everything was stable. Time to break it.

So I decided to upgrade the BIOS to 038 - the latest bios for it. I had been running 028 without any issues.

The first thing I noticed after the upgrade - the HDD password no longer worked. I had successfully locked myself out of my system. Lovely.

I pulled out the 200gb seagate and put in a 320gb WD scorpio black I had purchased for my older EEE laptop that died soon after. Reinstalled Win7 (reformatted the drive as one volume), so I ended up with 2 320gb drives, 300gb per drive usable, and everything was perfect. Almost.

I noticed that the GPU temp was idling at 60C - where under the older bios it idled at 40c. Not good. It will be unstable at 80c and shutdown or lock up at 90+.

SO I re-flashed the bios back to 028. It booted fine, everything works and the temp is back down to 40c again.

Tonight, I connect the old 200gb HD to it with a USB adapter and see if it will accept the HDD password now, so I can get some files off of it and then reformat it for security. Maybe even remove the HDD password, we'll see.