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MicroDesk Essential 200B Desknote

Company: MicroPro
Product: MicroDesk Essential 200B Desknote
Street Price: ~$975 USD
Date Reviewed: November 15, 2002
Reviewed By: Mark H.
Rating: (8/10)

Introduction:

I was in the market for a laptop, and was busy doing my usual brand scouring when I came across a category of notebooks called “Desknotes.” A Desknote is a hybrid desktop/laptop: That is to say, it is the size of a laptop, but runs desktop parts. The only reliable e-tailer that I was able to find that carries the AMD series of Desknote machines is MicroPro. The Desknote I am reviewing is a custom-configured machine.

Not only do you get to build your own laptop, but also you get to pick the parts that go inside of it. Below are listed the specific parts which I chose to use in my system:

  • AMD Athlon XP2000+
  • ECS Motherboard designed for Desknotes (DDR266)
  • 4 x USB2.0 Ports
  • 1 x FireWire Port
  • 8XCDRW/DVD
  • 512MB OCS (Which I do NOT recommend) PC3200 DDR (Item NOT purchased from MicroPro)
  • 40GB IBM TravelStar 2.5” IDE
  • Onboard 10/100 NIC
  • Onboard 56K v.90 Modem
  • Onboard IR Port for wireless transfer
  • Onboard TV-Out (sVideo)
  • Standard Monitor/Keyboard/Parallel
  • Onboard Stereo Sound
  • Onboard Video (SiS 740 series featuring Ultra-AGPII (4X w/333MHz RAMDAC)
  • ECS EM-928L External Lithium-Ion Battery-Pack (about 5 hours of life)

It should be noted that you should avoid the first page of Price Watch, due to many of the sites being the exact same page with a different interface (actually, just color theme). I don’t trust sites that do this. MicroPro, Access Micro, and the rest of the major names on the second page are a good place to start looking: always check Reseller Ratings before making any online purchase.

Yo Dawg, what do I get?

Glad you asked. The box that I received came with the following items:
  1. 40GB Hard Drive
  2. Assembled Case
  3. CoolerMaster HSF built specifically for Desknotes
  4. External Battery (Which is larger than your arm!)
  5. External power cable
  6. SVideo Cable
  7. ThizLinux For Desknotes Version 7.0
  8. Drivers CD
  9. Easy CD Creator 5 (which I assume they just keep as I use Nero)

Overclocking:

“Overclocking a laptop, are you insane?” – Nope, just extreme.

Overclocking a laptop can be a mistake, as processor heat is not easily dissipated when using a heat sink with a fan pushing less air than I could blow. Either way, I had to at least try and see what I could get her to do. Since the BIOS is so limited in advanced features, I had only two options: FSB-only overclocking, or unlocking and relocking with a set multiplier.

For those of you who don’t already know the specific areas of the chip to bridge when getting a specific clock, OCInside.de has posted a visual guide. 150FSB is the highest the BIOS will let me clock my RAM, so my next move is to get the multiplier locked down. For this specific mod, I choose to leave it just standard unlocked (which defaulted my multiplier to 11). This gave me a clean 1650MHz with decent RAM speeds.

There are some problems when I run my FSB at 150. When I attempt to run applications which use the shared video RAM, they will crash after about three seconds into the game. At first, I had no idea what the problem was, but after troubleshooting with some guys at the forums, we got everything figured out. When I need to use the shared video RAM, I have to lower the FSB. I believe that a decent stick of RAM would fix this problem.

Stability is not an issue at the current state of this Desknote. I left it benching overnight using folding@home, and found it in the morning running just as stable. I will probably pull an Emeril and "kick it up another notch" after the review. We both know it can handle it since it has not even been phased by the overnight folding. Once I get some better RAM in, I will be able to take care of this video problem.

 

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