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Acer Extensa Laptop (5620 / T5250) Upgrade & Tweak Guide

Step 5: Misc. Tweaks

These are a collection of tweaks I learned over the past few months using this laptop. Most of them should be applicable to other makes / models.

Tweaking the video:

The X3100 Intel video is hardly for gaming. However, there's a few things you can do. First off, it is advertised as having "Up to 252MB" of shared graphics memory under Vista. Installing XP, it becomes 384MB! Not a bad upgrade (either the increased video memory or the faster OS) ;)

To get a little more of an edge, download and install the latest driver from Intel. Open Graphics Properties. Under Display Settings, hit Power Settings. Here you can improve things (slightly) by being more energy-wasteful. Under 3D settings, you can also change the "Driver Memory Footprint" to High, which supposedly may help.

Tweaking the performance:

I've already written an XP tweak-guide, so I'll keep this short. Get rid of all those background / startup applications, defragment your drive overnight every few weeks, uninstall / delete things you'll never use, Turn off System Restore unless you actually use it, and turn off Automatic Updates! If you have 14 taskbar icons next to your clock, it takes five minutes to boot up, and you keep getting "low disk space" warnings, you don't need new hardware. You need an hour of easy software maintenance.

Tweaking the battery:

A while back I forgot the charger for my laptop when I left for work. Bugger, I thought, I can get an hour, maybe a little more out of this battery! What on earth will I do for the next 3+ hours till I can run home on lunch?

Everyone's usage will differ, but here's how I stayed chatting and surfing online for three hours, just using the ~6 month old stock battery.

First, I used the under-voltage trick. Remember, less voltage, less heat, less power consumed.

Secondly, I have Windows Power Options set to Max Battery. Not only does this keep standard hardware use to a minimum, but it runs the T5250 cpu at 997Mhz instead of 1.5Ghz while unplugged. If you're websurfing or typing, 2/3 of the CPU is plenty.

Thirdly, I used XP's Hardware Profiles to create a super-battery-extending profile. The how-to from Microsoft is here for setting up Profiles. I created a new one, rebooted, and entered it. Setting the timer at 5 or 10 seconds instead of the default 30 might keep you from gnashing your teeth in impatience during startup. Now the fun begins...

We open the device manager and start disabling anything we can live without for the next three hours. DVD drive? Not needed. PC Card slot? SD card? Firewire? Webcam? Disable them all. Since I'm on Ethernet and have the volume muted, I disabled Wifi and the audio card as well.

I then turned the brightness down as far as it would go, and closed every application but the Firefox tabs I was using. Turning off the auto-hibernate at 3%, I managed to chat on Meebo for three hours and seventeen minutes- at which point I ran home on lunch and grabbed my charger. I keep the Uber-battery profile just in case this happens again, or I need to finish / retrieve some work with the last trickles of power.
 
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