MSI PR200 Finally Settles Down

One of my pool-playing buddies on Thursday nights is a third-level notebook support tech for Dell, so I naturally turned to him with a recitation of my recent woes with the MSI notebook I’ve been cleaning up and rebuilding for my son to use. Ever since last weekend’s BIOS flash went wrong, it’s been extremely unstable. A strong indicator of BIOS issues comes from ACPI Event ID 13 which reports that the embedded disk controller failed to respond within some specific timeout period, not to mention NTFS error 55 which reports that the system structure on the disk is corrupt and unusable. Fortunately, I finally managed to get a working BIOS installed, which took care of Event 13, and merging the C: and D: partitions on the one and only hard disk in the MSI seems to have taken care of the disk structure issues.

I found what Jason had to say when I told him what I was dealing with very interesting, though. He said “When a notebook gets completely flaky it’s usually one of four things: bad memory, bad hard disk, corrupted BIOS, or a failing CPU.” Having had no problem with the CPU and fixed the BIOS, that leaves it down to memory and HD. Yesterday, I replaced both older 1 GB SO-DIMMs with brand-new 2 GB modules (at the time I bought from Newegg, Transcender was cheapest so that’s what I got; curiously, that’s also what was already inside the MSI). I’ve got a new drive on order, too: I’ll be replacing the current 160 GB Fujitsu MHZ2160BH-G2 5,400 RPM drive currently inside the box with a 160 GB Seagate ST9160823ASG-R7 7,200 RPM drive instead. Hopefully, by eliminating all of these variables I’ll be able to guarantee the boy a stable and positive computing experience!

And FWIW, so far, so good. Since the last crash on the system after I merged the C and D drives–Windows started to boot but never got past the Microsoft progress bar display after the first reboot, but worked just fine after a forced power cycle prompted a second reboot–the MSI has been solid and steady. I’d started to think I might have to wipe the drive and rebuild from scratch, and for all I know I might still end up doing it anyway, but for now things seem to be working reasonably well. Merging the C: and D: partitions appears to have helped a lot (the ~47 GB C: partition was more than 85% full, while the ~100 GB D: partition was nearly empty; combining the two has made disk maintenance on the merged C: partition must faster and easier to do).

I continue to remain impressed with Raxco’s latest version of Perfect Disk (10). It’s done a super job of helping me to clear out the detritus and restore a solid disk structure. Paragon Partition Manager also did a super job of merging the C: and D: partitions as well. Interestingly, PD10 shows me that when Partition Manager merged the two partitions it also did a pretty respectable job of positioning the shadow copies and other immovable data structures so that unlike many Vista hard disks, there’s no giant clump of immovable files smack dab in the middle of the drive. Right now, my biggest chunk of free space on C: is just over 70 GB in size–pretty big for a 148 GB partition.

Stay tuned as I wait for the replacement drive to show up, then put the MSI through a one-week shakedown after making that switcheroo. Things are already looking a lot better, and I have my hopes up that this machine might be as stable and trouble free as my Dell D620, by the time I get done with my tinkering, tuning, and tweaking. Take a look at these two Reliability charts, and tell me which one you’d rather use yourself, or have a family member use? The choice isn’t at all difficult to make!

Vista Reliability Indexes don't get any better than this!

Vista Reliability Indexes don't get any better than this!

The MSI was doing OK, but nor perfect, until I started messing with it.

The MSI was OK, if imperfect, until I started messing with it

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