Posts Tagged “laptop”

I’ve been using an Oculus Rift DK2 on an AMD laptop with dual graphics and have encountered the following error when using OVR runtime 0.43 or later.

There is a problem with your Rift configuration.
Interfering software is preventing the Rift from activating. Loaded UMD is reported as ‘aticfx32.dll’.

This causes whichever direct-to-rift demo is in use to start but no output to the Rift.

The laptop has “switchable graphics”. Essentially this is a Radeon 8650M for low power tasks and an 8970M/M290X for gaming and high-performance tasks.

If the software used with the Oculus Rift is set to run using the 8650M [power saving] in Catalyst Control Center’s Switchable Graphics Application Settings, the software will work correctly with the Rift albeit at greatly reduced performance. If the software is set to use the 8970M/M290X[high performance], the black screen and “aticfx32.dll” error will be shown.

It seems that the OVR runtime is not recognising the switch from the low power to high performance cards as the application starts.

 

The only workaround I have so far found is to downgrade the OVR runtime to 0.42.

It is likely that the bug will be eliminated in future versions of the OVR runtime. In the mean time, I intend to experiment with different AMD Catalyst driver versions to see if that makes any difference. I am currently using AMD Catalyst version 14.12.

 

If you’ve had success with another Catalyst version and dual-graphics on a OVR runtime later than 0.42, please let me know in the comments section.

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We recently had a Packard Bell Easynote (model identified as ‘Argo C2′ which seems to correspond with Packard Bell series MZ35 and MZ36 laptops) with a broken spacebar in for repair. We presumed it to be a complete keyboard replacement job so for your benefit, we detailed the procedure for getting the keyboard off the laptop.

easynote-c2

Tools required are basically a Phillips head screwdriver of suitable dimensions and a narrow, flat blade or similar prying tool.

We started out by turning the laptop over and removing the battery. The battery is located on the back edge and has a thumb-operated spring-loaded latch on the bottom surface of the laptop. The battery withdraws to the rear.

easynote-battery-removal

Next we needed to remove the keyboard retaining screw which (IIRC) is marked with a small keyboard legend. It is found roughly centrally on the underside of the laptop. Note that we had actually forgotten to remove the battery at this point /me smacks hands all round.

easynote-keyboard-retaining-screw

After putting the screw somewhere safe, we turned the laptop back over and with the lid closed, removed the hinge-cover retaining screws from the rear of the laptop.

easynote-cover-retaining-screw

Next, we carefully opened the laptop lid all the way.

easynote-lid-open

Once fully open, we used the prying tool to carefully lift the hinge covers which are an integral part of the upper cover on the laptop.

easynote-prying-up-the-cover

The whole cover should hinge from the keyboard side. We lifted the cover slightly and withdrew it away from the keyboard, towards the screen. The cover just removed acted as a secondary retaining feature for the upper edge of the keyboard.

The keyboard was lifted from the edge nearest the screen, slight screenwards motion was employed to release the keyboard from the lower edge.

easynote-lifting-keyboard

The keyboard ribbon cable is now visible. The ribbon is fastened using a black locking tab/collar.

easynote-keyboard-removal

We very carefully release the locking collar with a screwdriver. Usually working it back from each edge in turn works well.

easynote-keyboard-removal2

The keyboard could now be fully removed. The exposed internals of the laptop at this point are shown below.

easynote-keyboard-removed

The keyboard refitting procedure is the reverse of the removal procedure. Special care is to be taken when re-seating the ribbon cable and cover clips.

The usual disclaimer applies plus the caveat that it was a couple of months ago when this procedure was performed and my memory may be slightly rusty on it. Don’t forget, if your device is still under warranty, you’re best off getting a service call.

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If you’ve got a slightly older notebook suck as the Compaq/HP Presario 2100 series, you might be feeling that the performance is somewhat lack-luster compared to more modern laptops. There are fewer upgrade options for laptops when compared with desktops but the most obvious upgrade is to increase or even ‘max-out’ the installed RAM.

Thankfully, the procedure for upgrading RAM on the Presario 2100 series is very straight-forward. The RAM bay is located on the underside of the machine and requires only the removal of two screws for access. The model featured here is actually a 2103EA which is a little known/unheard of model which resembles the specification of the 2103EU/2103US. Most of the other 210x models are generally similar.

The Upgrade

First, disconnect the power supply from the system. Then remove the battery by pulling up on the battery release catch while pulling on the battery itself as shown below.

Locate the RAM bay which is on the base of the machine underneath the touchpad. Using a fine Philips (cross-head) screw-driver, undo the two screws on this panel. Note that the screws are ‘captive’ and will not come all the way out (Top marks to Compaq/HP on this feature!). Only unscrew them enough to release the panel.

The panel then lifts up from the edge containing the screws and slides out of the locating lugs at the other end.

You will now see the two SO-DIMM RAM slots (one populated here). Insert your new SO-DIMM into the available slot(s) making sure to match the locator ‘key’ to the raised locator in the slot itself. This prevents reverse installation of the RAM. The RAM just pushes down until the two retaining clips at the outside edge clip it into place, holding it flat. In order to remove a SO-DIMM module, simply push the two clips outward and the module will spring up.

To finalise the job, replace the RAM bay cover and refasten the retaining screws. Reinsert the battery and reconnect the power supply.

On powering your machine up again, you can hit F2 during the POST and enter the BIOS config. On the first page, you should see the installed RAM figure. This will be less than the installed amount depending on how much is given over to (shared)video memory. The video memory amount is also displayed here and can be adjusted.

Hopefully, when you boot into your OS of choice, you should see an improvement in performance. RAM is relatively cheap in Europe and the USA right now so it’s probably the best time to purchase this kind of upgrade.

Maximum amount of installable RAM for Presario 2100 Series

To the best of my knowledge, the 2100 series laptops ‘max-out’ at 1GB of RAM due to each of the two banks being limited to 512MB by the 320M chipset on the motherboard.

The original SO-DIMM modules were apparently PC2100 units but I’ve now installed PC2700 units with no ill-effect. The PC2700 RAM simply runs at the lower PC2100 speed.

I strongly recommend searching for RAM specifically designed for your system. I used Offtek UK who supplied me with a Buffalo PC2700 512MB module for around £12 delivered.

Always check with the supplier that the RAM you are ordering matches your laptop (some laptops can be extremely picky about which modules they will work with.

Disclaimer: The above may be incomplete or inaccurate; attempt entirely at your own risk! ;)

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All methods and procedures shown here are carried out entirely at the user's own risk. Please read our disclaimer