Over Macho Grande

Friday, May 11, 2012

Don't buy a Portege R830

Okay, so this is something of a rant, but given my experiences with the laptop, how can I not?

Backstory:  Corporate IT maintains a list of acceptable portables, all of which are made by Toshiba.  After looking over the list, it looked like the best choice was the Portege R830.  It had the best possible CPU and it wasn't a giant clunker that looked my back-in-the-day 15 pound Inspiron 7000.  As a bonus, it was available with a reasonably priced docking station.

My first conception that something was wrong when, after first boot, I checked free memory.  Physically, 4GB is installed, but windows says that only 2.7GB is available.  The Intel HD3000 video setup is eating the rest (1.3GB!).  Okay, no big deal.  I can reboot and change that in the BIOS.  Oops.  No option.  Well, maybe it's just some old drivers.  Nope.  Drivers are latest from Toshiba.  They're not particularly new, so maybe the generic Intel ones will fix it.  Damn!  Toshiba has crippled the video so that it won't accept the Intel drivers.

Maybe if I install more physical memory.  As an aside, IT installed the 32-bit version of Win7.  I know, I know.  But I've got duty travel coming up, and getting the laptop within 3 months was a major achievement as it is.  Asking for a wipe on day two isn't going to win me any friends.

So, I dropped 8GB into the computer on the assumption that the BIOS would be smart enough to leave the 4GB that Win7 _can_ address to me, and take the rest for video, even if it is overkill.  No dice:  The BIOS reserves nearly 6GB of the 8GB memory for video.  Really?  Really?!

A tech support request to Toshiba hasn't been answered.  I got the obligatory "We'll get back to you within 24 hours" email, but no actual email.

I wouldn't think that being able to specify video memory would be all that big of a deal, but then again, this BIOS is pretty braindead.  I think I've seen more options on locked-down Pentium 1 era computers.  I'm not expecting overclocking options, but at least let me use the damn thing, especially if IT has already f**ked things up by only installing half the memory I asked for and then installing the 32-bit version of Windows.


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