Welcome to the NotebookReview Forum Spotlight, a biweekly series where we highlight the hottest and most important topics in our forum. The NotebookReview forum is the largest Internet forum dedicated to the discussion of notebook computers, including Macs and tablets. You can sign up for free by clicking here.
This forum spotlight includes finding inexpensive notebooks for college, upgrading BGA processors, and troubleshooting framerate drops in games.
Finding an Inexpensive Notebook for College
College buying season is here, and our What Notebook Should I Buy forum is the place to get personalized recommendations. One member asked about getting a portable notebook for college with at least seven hours of battery life. Two members recommended Asus Zenbook and Lenovo IdeaPad models.
I recommended a Dell Latitude business notebook from the Dell Outlet. You get a lot of notebook for your money, especially if you use coupons from the Dell Outlet’s twitter account. The Dell Latitude 7000 series (the Latitude 7390 is pictured here) has excellent build quality and comes standard with three years of warranty coverage. Those should be very important items for college students that need notebooks to last the duration.
Careful: Bad Batch of Kyronaut Thermal Compound
Applying high-performance thermal compound to your notebook’s processor is one way to improve its thermal performance. There are lots of choices out there, including Arctic Silver and IC Diamond. Kyronaut is one of the higher-end choices, but buyer beware: the company admitted they had a bad batch that has abrasive properties. There’s apparently no way to know if a tube of it is problematic, so just be careful.
Upgrading Soldered BGA Processors
Forum member @kojack asked whether it was possible to upgrade a BGA processor, which is soldered to the motherboard. The answers contributed by our forum members indicate that, while it’s possible to de-solder a BGA CPU and take it out, finding a replacement processor would be difficult (if not impossible), and compatibility isn’t guaranteed.
Most notebooks sold today have soldered processors. There are some exceptions, like the Alienware Area-51m (shown in the photo), but they tend to be large desktop-replacement models. Plan to buy your notebook with the processing power you need, as you probably won’t be able to upgrade it later.
How Fast is Gigabit Internet?
One of our members had Gigabit (1000Mbps) Internet installed at their residence. On a wired Ethernet connection, they measured download speeds at 600Mbps and upload at 800Mbps, while wireless (Wi-Fi) showed 500Mbps and 700Mbps, respectively. According to our members, the download speeds are normal, but the upload speed is better than usual. To get better speeds, one of the offered solutions was to get an 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) router. Those, unfortunately, are still just making it to market, and can command $500 or more.
Troubleshooting Framerate Drops in Battlefield 1
One of our members reported suddenly experiencing framerate drops in Battlefield 1, where the game freezes mid-battle. (The framerate graph is shown in the photo here.) The game had been running fine for over a year with no problems. Multiple suggestions were offered; the first included running HWInfo64 while gaming to see if any of the limits were flagged. (This would indicate a possible hardware problem.)
Another suggestion was to exclude the Battlefield 1 game files folder from antivirus scanning, while another was to run the game in DirectX 11 mode instead of DirectX 12. The most likely explanation, however, was an Nvidia driver upgrade, which the member performed, going from a 300 series driver to a 400 series driver.