Wednesday 18 November 2009, byRate this article , 7209 Views
After my pre-release Windows Seven purchase, I had some extra Windows Seven Premium boxes. Why not try to install on my five year old Packard Bell Easynote B3600 ?
The Packard Bell Easynote B3600 was released circa 2005 and I bought it at 649 euros. Its main specifications are the following:
AMD Sempron 3000+ (actually at 1.8 Ghz)
VIA K8N800 chipset
Chipset video S3 Unichrome (up to 64 mo shared memory)
512 Mo de ram DDR (on two so-dimm modules)
50 Go hard disk (I think it’s 4200 rpm)
1024x768 15 inches TFT screen
Modem 56K, Ethernet 100 Mbps, Wifi G
Graveur DVD Dual
As you can see it’s not the fastest computer in the world and is almost already 5 years old. Benchmarking gives the following:
3D Mark 2001: 1407, only 89 on 3D Mark 2003 - my 3 years old iMac 24 does 12731 at 3D Mark 2003 ...
CPU Mark 99 at 190 (not too shabby 5 years ago)
Disk read rate at 28.1 mo / s, 11.5 ms access time - a modern 2.5 inches drive like the WD Scorpio 500 Go does 69 mo/s but not too bad for a 4200 rpm drive
Under Packard Bell Windows XP, it was very slow (on day one of purchase), because of bloatware.
Under standard Windows XP, it was ok or even fast, but has slowed significantly with the additional Service Pack: boot time was very long, and it was sometimes unresponsive (because of hard disk ? internet access), while being fast enough for Internet or Wordpad without those slowing down.
A lot of older computers have the same specs in many families and were supplied with Windows XP. So how would they fare under Windows Seven ?
Only 448 Mo available because 64 mo is taken by S3 graphics chipset
Of course, 448 mo available isn’t going to cut it for Windows Seven (minimum is 1 Go for 32 bit version, 2 Go for 64 bit version), so I purchased a quite cheap upgrade at 20 euros from US (eBay).
A little ram package from the US: two 512 mo 200 pins so-dimm DDR PC2700
Shiny stickers on the ram modules
Original two 256 Mo SO-DIMM modules
Replaced by the new 512 mo modules
Now 960 Mo available: that’s better even if it’s not 1 Go yet
The ram was sent quickly, it worked perfectly. I should have made a shot at 2 Go ram for 40 euros, but the risk is high (even Packard Bell site says the maximum is 1 Go, but some laptop with the same chipset go as far as 2 Go - guess I’ll never know).
32 bit and 64 bit DVD supplied: AMD Sempron is 32 bit processor
Boot from the DVD and ... it crashes
Ok first try very disappointing, the DVD boots but crashes after and I can’t change anything significant in the BIOS.
I was planning for desperate measure like flashing the BIOS with older version just in case but then ...
It might be an ACPI bios problem, this forum says the answer is update the bios but what if it’s already the latest version ?
Fortunately the DVD is readable under installed XP
I checked the Windows Seven compatibility program
Seven ! upgrade problems detected - but it should work
If you are curious the seven upgrade problems were the following:
No update possible, have to manually save program and files (well it’s from XP)
Graphics card isn’t compatible with Aero
Outlook Express isn’t included anymore
Realtek AC’97 audio for VIA: perhaps won’t work under Windows Seven
Messenger perhaps won’t work under Seven
MyDVD perhaps won’t work under Seven
RecordNow perhaps won’t work under Seven
Ok nothing drastic, nothing about a DVD which doesn’t load and it confirms that the minimum requirements: 1 Ghz processor, 1 Go of ram (even if I was missing 64 Mo), and 16 Go of available space on hard drive is ok
Launch installation from XP
It installs files from the DVD and internet without rebooting
And it reboots successfully
And finishes the installation
So in summary to do the cleanest installation possible, I had to reinstall Windows XP on another partition, then launch Windows Seven installation from Windows XP as my Windows Seven DVD wouldn’t boot directly. I reformatted my Windows XP partition after - just some extra XP files left in Windows Seven hard drive which is bearable.
Beautiful and simple Windows Seven desktop
434 Mo available out of 960 Mo, not that bad
Around 10 Go taken by the OS
Of course I didn’t activate it yet in case of problems
Performance index: 1.0, can’t be lower
Because of the graphics and game graphics subsystem: 1.0 only
My mobile Sempron at 1800 Mhz is rated a whooping 1.6, and I have 3.4 for my 1 Go of ram and 4.6 for my 33 Gb hard disk available.
What did you expect with a Direct X 7 chip instead of Direct X 11 ?
Installing Norton 2009
Even with Norton 2009 it’s still fast enough.
My old hibernation penguin program works well on this computer
All programs seem to work OK.
So the installation worked, but how is it versus Windows XP SP3, which was not that slow on this computer ?
Well it’s faster and more important it is far more responsive:
For example it boots in 1 minute and 15 seconds, and you have control after 1 minute and 15 seconds even if it can load up extensions until 3 minutes or more.
Under XP, the computer was frozen until the 3 minutes mark.
And the interface is far more responsive, you can have 1 or 2 seconds delay whereas it was 10 or 20 under XP
And it has all the benefits of Vista / Seven: more security and functionality integrated in base OS, quick networking and printer installation.
It completely changes the computer, I wonder if I should have boosted it to 2 Go after all. In one word, Windows Seven is better than Windows XP even on old computers.
Of course in my case my Windows Seven Premium costed only 50 euros, with ram it’s 70 euros, it is still acceptable if borderline to update an old computer. But if you had to buy Windows Seven Premium at full 199 euros it wouldn’t make sense.
I think if Microsoft would be so kind to release Windows Seven Starter for a low price that it could have a market, I wonder how it would perform on my old Thinkpad 240 (Celeron 300 with 320 megs of ram).
Some update after about one month usage:
Compared to Windows XP SP3, you have control after 1 min instead of 3 as other services are launched in background BUT if you do too much during the 3 minutes Windows Seven can crash (no bluescreen but unresponding processes which must be killed). It’s very strange to have Wordpad not responding and crashing because I launched it when other services were launching in the background. I guess there was a reason why you didn’t have control immediately under Windows XP ... so the benefit of a more responsive interface must be weighted against the possibility of crashing the application.
Windows Seven updates which takes ages and lock down your computer - I really hate them
Windows Seven is far more like Vista than XP for the updates, which means very frequent updates which completely locks up your computer for 1 hour or more (it’s even worse as the computer is slow) when you install them. It’s a major con compared to Windows XP. MacOSX has also frequent updates but they will never tie your computer more than 5 to 10 minutes at most - and many will not even need a reboot.
The second con is more significant than the first, as it is real drawback compared to XP SP3.
Pré-commandes Windows Seven In French, my original discounted Windows Seven Premium boxes
Test Packard Bell Easynote B3600 Original test of Packard Bell Easynote B3600 (in French)
MacOSX on Packard Bell B3600 In French, this notebook has seen lots of OS
Ram upgrade for B3600 Packard Bell site, maximum listed is 1 Go
Windows Seven forum On old computers thread
Windows 7 comment on P4HT 1 Ghz (in French) They say it’s slow, on my Packard Bell it’s fast, faster and more responsive than Windows XP.