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I am not responsible if your devices send you back in time, explodes, implodes, bricks or flies into space from the use of any software I put up.

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Lenovo G40-30 Review

When something is good but expensive, it is an overpriced product.
When it is cheap but lousy, again it is a waste of money.
So usually I will only do a review if the product is a worthy and value for money.
And the Lenovo G40-30 is no exception.


The Lenovo G40-30 is actually the lowest speced SKU of the Lenovo G40 Series of laptop but it is really something special due to the choice of components.
Read on and you will find out why.
I no longer use laptops for heavy processing as the heat destroys it easily, heavy lifting is done on the Desktop and laptops are for lighter workloads which makes this laptop really ideal.
I got it from a website at SGD $369 dollar which is really cheap for a 14" inch laptop.

The base specification is as follows

  • Intel Celeron Quad Core N2940 @ 1.83GHZ
  • 2GB DDR3 RAM Low Voltage Module
  • 500GB 2.5" HDD
  • Wireless B/G/N Module
  • 1000Mbps Ethernet Port
  • USB 3.0 

Disassembly

When I disassemble the laptop that is when I found some surprises.

First the BIOS access button is not activated by keyboard combinations



The BIOS access button is activate by a small button just beside the Power Connector

There is no metal fins as usually found just behind the exhaust grills


After opening  it up


A few things to note
  1. It uses the Next Generation Form Factor Wifi Card Slot
  2. The heatsink assembly HAS NO FAN
  3. It has only a Single DRAM Slots for RAM Upgrades
  4. Left and Right Speaker is located far far away from Heatsink
Harddisk Closeup



HeatSink Assembly Closeup


RAM Slot Closeup


Wifi Card Closeup


Booting the System

The reason why it can be so cheap is revealed here
It comes with a Windows 8.1 Edition called: Single Language with Bing
It is a feature stripped down version of Windows 8.1 with additional features like Hyper-V missing.


It has 4 CPU Cores running at 1.83GHZ
It has Virtualisation (Intel VT-X)  which can be enabled in the BIOS.
L1 Cache 224KB and L2 Cache 2.0MB.


It uses a special version of Intel AHCI Controller Driver for Celeron Processors
It uses Conexant High Definition Audio
It uses a Elantech Based Touchpad (Not shown in the photo)
The Atheros AR956x is a Single Stream 1TX, 1RX Wireless N Capable Wifi Module capable of negotiating up to 150Mbps only, it is known in the Market as QCNFA335.
The Bluetooth function is provided by the Wireless Module
It has a USB 3.0 Capability. 


It has a Realtek Gigabit Lan Port



Even without a fan in the heatsink, temperatures look fine


Temperatures after running Intel Burn Test (Temperatures held stable at 65 degrees without any Fan pretty good I must say)


More detailed Information about the Processor


It is a Bay Trail M CPU, it is a Intel Atom derived Processor 
So it does not have those new fancy AES-NI Instruction Set Capabilities.

Let look at the memory modules


Look carefully it uses a Low Voltage DDR3L DRAM, it is a 1.35V module if you slot in a standard 1.5V module it will not boot.

A little excursion on the grey side ...

Guys who recognize the picture below knows what this means...

Original Table:

After some modding:


Lastly....Conclusion

What makes this laptop amazing...
  • It is really really cheap
  • It has really really long battery life due to Low Power Processor and DRAM
  • It is really really quiet, no fan no sound, no moving parts
  • It has Gigabit LAN port for a really really low price, some even more expensive laptops have only Fast Ethernet LAN
  • It looks quite elegant and decent
  • You can pass it off as its more powerful G40-Series higher end brothers.
  • Powerful Speakers that are faraway from heatsink is a good design
  • I typed and completed this review using only 20% of batterylife
What makes this laptop meh
  • Windows 8.1 Single Language with Bing, a crippled Windows Edition 
  • Wireless Adapter only 150Mbps capable
  • But hey seriously it is SGD $365 for the specs it is really really awesome
Potential Upgrades to this laptop
  • Upgrade Harddisk Drive to SSD
  • Upgrade RAM to 8GB (Remember to get Low Voltage DDR3L RAM modules only)
  • Upgrade Wifi Card (Remember WiFi Card Slot accepts only Next Generation Form Factor (NGFF)
  • Reformat and install a non-crippled OS


Saturday, January 24, 2015

TP-Link WDR4900v1 OpenWRT Technical Review

As you can see from my github I am adding support to a new Router.
The TP-Link WDR4900v1.
The reason why I am supporting it is because I got 1 recently.

As you know this is a relatively old Wireless N Dual Band Router compared with all the spanking new Wireless AC Router, I saw that it was on cheap sale, $90 SGD compared to the original retail price of $190 and so I purchased it.

That was not all the reason I purchase it. The main reason was it came with a esoteric Processor: the Freescale e500v2 P1014 SoC.

It is a POWER Architecture by Freescale, Clocking up to 800MHZ.
It is a relatively high power Router with SPE register modes but from the Kernel Source it cannot boot if you enable SPE or Hardfloat on the Kernel however you can enable it in the userland applications.
Probably a GCC thing.

As usual this is not your Stock Firmware review, it is a "OpenWRT firmware on it" review so if you are looking for nice numbers on stock firmware you should look at the millions of reviews posted somewhere else.

I took a look at the default buildroot in OpenWrt for this firmware, there are a number of optimizations that can be applied but is not.

So I added my patches and the github repo can be found here.

A number of significant patches I added that boosted performance are the
CFLAGS, TX and RX buffer on the gianfar driver, and the Assembler Optimizations for OpenSSL similar to what has been done for MIPS Architecture, I will only upload the binaries next month but if you are impatient you can build it yourself from my github repo.

So below are some of the findings of OpenWrt on WDR4900v1after using my Optimized Build which I will only upload next month with the rest of my releases.

NAT Performance LAN to WAN


It is roughly 550Mbps, only slightly higher than a optimized Overclock WDR4300@730MHZ.
So if we were to consider Throughput per MHZ it would be slightly less efficient than a MIPS74kc.

As for Wireless @ 2.4GHZ Close range it maxes out at > 150Mbps peak burst using WPA2-PSK AES Encryption.
This is a very good result, probably due to its superior AES computation capabilities


2.4GHZ is very often the lower bar performance due to the channel congestion so we can assume that 5GHZ will be slightly high in throughput compared to 2.4GHZ

Next findings are very interesting. Although it uses similar Wireless Radios compared to WDR4300 it is way way higher Power.

Compared to the WR1043ND which can do 24dbm at 2.4GHZ, this Router can do 25dbm! (WDR4300 does a maximum of 22dbm at 2.4GHZ)


Lastly its 5GHZ capabilities is also clearly superior compared to its weaker brother WDR4300.


It can do a flat 22dbm on ALL 5GHZ Frequency compared to WDR4300 which can only do maximum of 20dbm on higher frequency range on 5GHZ and 15dbm on the lower frequency range on 5GHZ.

In conclusion, basically it is slightly faster than WDR4300 and can transmit higher power than WDR4300 and WR1043NDv1.

Stay tune for the Feburary Release!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

OpenWRT Barrier Breaker January Release 2015

January release out!
Notable Changes from upstream repository
-OpenSSL updated to K release and fixes a couple of CVEs
Notable Change from Custom Patch
-Force LLSC on MIPS CFLAGS
-Add a improved strstr uClibc implementation from uClibc patchwork
-ZRAM has been removed since it currently useless and prevents 32MB devices from proper operation.
-Backport a soft reboot fix for certain hardware version of WDR36XX/43XX Router
-Update kernel to 3.10.64

For more detailed changes refer to OpenWRT Barrier Breaker Source and my Github Repository

Download the firmware here