by WebKeyDesign | May 13, 2022 | In Stock, Out Of The Box, Reviews
One of the projects I took on during the lockdown months was to build a desk for my son’s room. It use to be that a desk meant some piece of furniture that featured drawers for all your paper files. Now multiple decades into the computer age, we no longer need all those drawers and file cabinets. Today a desk means a simple table and perhaps a riser for monitors. Most desks are just particle board, some metal, and perhaps a glass top in some cases. The problem with inexpensive desks is that they are flimsy and not made to last. On the internet you will find plenty of people who build their own desks. These do-it-yourself projects do not end up being cheap. Even a simple wood top can cost a few hundred dollars and that is before you consider if you will treat and finish the wood yourself. For my son, the cheapest option I found was a very affordable butcher block board from HomeDepot and some simple steel round legs. For some reason, I was able to get the butcher block top delivered to my house, however the table legs, I had to actually drive to the store and pick them up. Both items were not in stock in the store, so you had to order them on the website.
Bare Wood Needs Care
If you decide to get unfinished wood, you will need to treat it somehow. For a butcher block, you can use a conditioner or mineral oil. I ended up using oil-based pre-stain, stain, and finally a polyurethane finish. This was my first experience with a wood staining project and I learned that you need a lot of patience for doing this type of work. Wood needs lots of sanding and it becomes tedious work really quickly. It is also the little things that count in wood furniture. The edges of wood should be rounded and for someone who is not a carpenter, you would never have thought of that. Now when I go to a store and look at furniture, I can’t not notice if the edges are rounded or slightly beveled. The reason to treat wood is that wood dries out and sealing it, staining it, or using some other penetrating oil keeps it looking good. For a new shelf that I wanted to build quickly, I used teak oil on bare wood and was amazed at how smooth the wood came out days later. The smell took a week to go away, but other than that the process was very easy compared to multiple coats of stain.
The one tool that I can’t live without is my Dewalt Drill. For the longest time I had it still in the box and now I can’t stop using it. I used it to for all sorts of projects in the last year. For my son’s desk, I used the drill to drive in 4 screws for each leg mount. Once all the mounts were setup, we moved the butcher block top to the bedroom and attached the legs. The end result was a nice sturdy desk that will last for a long time.
The Home Office Desk
I was planning on making a secondary desk for my home office, but I’ve had some trouble with sitting all day long. Instead I needed a quick solution, so I looked at the options on Monoprice and found a couple of different ones. I settled for this Workstream dual motor frame and a matching 5 foot Workstream Table Top. The 6 foot table top seemed appealing, but when I measure my current table, it was actually less than 5 feet wide and so it would be more work to make a 6 foot table top fit.
Due to inventory, I ordered the frame from Monoprice directly and ordered the table top from Amazon instead. Both arrived in a few days. The frame was heavy and unassembled.
I removed my old desk that I have had since college from my office and once I cleared the floor space, I was ready to assemble the new desk. The frame comes with the necessary hex key tool. You will need your own Phillips screwdriver, and I would recommend your trusty Dewalt Drill with a driver, a measuring tape (I used instead a carpenter’s square). The frame is easy to assemble, just take your time. You will need another pair of hands to help you slide the table top underneath the frame. The predrilled holes in the table top will not line up with the frame. I used one hole only to line up the frame and then measured using the square to line up the legs equally on each side. Using your screwdriver drive in the one screw to the predrilled hole for each leg. You might need some lighting or a flash light if you got the black table top like me. Keeping each leg properly lined up on each side, use your drill to drive the rest of the screws for each leg. It goes without saying, but do not over tighten the screws. To be careful, I only use the drill most of the way, and then use the screw driver to finish tightening.
The rest of the assembly is the wire management. You might consider getting some adhesive Cord Clips – size 3/8″. They are rather expensive, but will help with the cord management. I prefer them to cable ties, because you can easily unclip cables if needed.
At this point, you will need your friend or spouse to help you lift the desk upright and move it to its final resting place. The rest of the setup is putting back all your equipment. The immediate need will be for having longer power cables. I ended up making a narrow shelf to hold my UPS to the right of the desk. A quick trip to Staples for a two outlet extension cord to plug my monitors into, so that raising the desk would not be a problem for my monitors.
Standing or Sitting
The control panel allows for three memorized settings. After two weeks, I’ve setup a standing height and a sitting height. Most mornings, I start with a standing desk and have my same routine of a couple of morning meetings on Teams and responding to multiple emails. In the afternoon, I’ll switch to a sitting desk position and be more in engaged in doing some work in Excel. Generally if I have a meeting where I have to present or that I am hosting, I will choose a sitting position, otherwise I stand for most meetings.
Overall the Monoprice solution works well. The implementation could be better. The wire management is still a pain when it comes to computers. It would be nice if either the table top came with pre-drilled holes for cables or some other cord management system, such as an attachment underneath to hold wires. You can buy third party solutions at Staples and even Monoprice offers some of their own too. My other leftover issue is that due to the monitors getting bigger, I have to figure something out for my studio monitor speakers which are bookshelf size. I may need to add a shelf to the wall to hold those. For now I will place them underneath with a small riser for them to be off the ground.
The big improvement that is evident is that my home office is clean for the first time in years. My old desk was mostly a cluttered mess of computer parts and paper work.
by WebKeyDesign | Nov 9, 2021 | Apple, Out Of The Box
Like the character Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory, I have a designated spot in my living room. I often do online shopping from my couch and my default device is a MacBook Pro that I have had for a very long time. This is the 2010 model and it still has a working battery since most of its lifetime has been spent plugged in. This MacBook was replaced with a new MacBook Pro 16 last year. Both of these laptops are near and dear to me and represent a significant investment, so I want to protect them and keep them for a long time.
The most immediate danger is to the MacBook Pro that I use in the living room. There is a curious and very needy dog that lives in our house and he considers the living room his domain. In order to protect my Apple laptop from his paws, I decided to try and skin my laptops. Unlike a hard cover, a skin is more like a protective thin layer that you can apply to the top and bottom of your laptop. It won’t overheat your laptop and it is removable in case you want to sell your laptop or go back to its original look. Skins can be applied to all areas of your laptop, but overall the best benefit is to to the top and bottom of your closed laptop. This will protect the outer shell from scratches and may even prevent a dent. Another benefit, is that you can easily wipe off dust, hot sauce, cookie crumbs, and other things you might happen to spill on your closed laptop.
There are multiple websites that specialize in skinning. Almost all of theses skins are made from the same material and they are not exactly cheap. For the MacBook, I visited the forums on Macrumours.com and did a search for skins and found multiple threads on skinning your Apple devices. I tried three different skins, and found that ColorWare to have the better quality product. You may find a cheaper seller.
Once you get the skin, you can watch a couple of youtube videos that show you how to install the skin. You will need a hair dryer if you end up wanting to remove the skin. Lining up the skin perfectly will take some trial and error and you will want to be careful. Stretching the skin can rip it or deform it so that the end result will not look good. One skin I tried ended up ripping, so I do think ColorWare had better results due to it being a slightly better product. If you do purchase skins for the sides or other areas of your laptop, I think there is minimal return for the time that you put in. I would recommend just doing the top and bottom. Removing the skin is very easy to do, just use a hair dryer on low and a plastic tool (plastic credit cards or guitar picks will work as well).
After you have your laptop skin, you can rest assure that your laptop is a bit more protected from curious pets and your own carelessness at times.
by WebKeyDesign | Jul 19, 2017 | Out Of The Box
When technologies go through major upgrades, they are most often evaluated not on the technical merits of the upgrade but on how the market reacts overall to the technology. For me personally, the iPhone had a major impact and it was my first personal cell phone. Most everyone I know today was impacted by the iPhone. Even if you don’t have an iPhone today, you most likely have an Android, and even though Google was working on Android prior to the iPhone’s release, they ended up having to change their designs, once they saw iOS. In the world of home entertainment, the DVD player and HD television have had monumental impacts as well. In 2017, I looked at my home theater and decided it was time to move into the next big upgrade, namely 4K.
The three big components of home theater system is the television, the surround receiver, and a blu-ray player. Once you talk about speakers and sub-woofers, then you get into things that cannot be accurately described in reviews. Audio is something that is best experienced. Lets just say that I have 7 speakers and a sub-woofer, so it is a surround system.
My first component upgrade was the television. Our television was the first flat screen we ever bought. It is nice television for its time, but it certainly paled in comparison to today’s modern TVs. For some reason, in 2017, televisions are more than just screens. Once you decide on a screen size, you still have to decide what type of screen technology you can afford, if it comes with apps (similar to your phone), and even if you can talk to it. Showing my age, I chose a 55-inch Sony. My father’s generation had Zenith, my generation has Sony, and if you are younger than me, you probably have a Samsung or LG for your brand of choice. Sony makes nice televisions, but their price is higher than you would expect. The new Sony television annoyingly comes with Google Android. I say annoying because, I don’t want to talk to my TV, and I don’t want it to tell me what to watch. All I really want to to is turn it on, and then watch a movie or play a video game. Sony needlessly complicated their television and forces me to deal with an Android OS, its apps, and networking. Aside from this the screen is flat, appears bright, and is just awesome for watching movies.
4K is a technology upgrade that is in search of content. The problem is that DVD resolutions do not look very good on a 4K screen. I am a cable cord-cutter, so online content comes from Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime video. The Sony TV includes these apps, and these apps are also on my Apple TV, Playstation, and Blu-ray Player. Regardless, my connection to the internet at home is not capable of delivering 4K resolution streams, so streaming content is not really going to look all that great on the 4K screen. Slow and unreliable internet connections are a barrier to 4K. I will also mention that ISPs with data-caps are also a barrier to 4K adoption. If you do have the internet capacity to have 4k streaming, then Amazon Prime video is a good source for content. Netflix charges extra for 4K content, so you might need to spend a bit more on subscriptions. Content is also in a mix of formats at this time. This means that higher resolutions than 1080HD are available, but they will vary in resolution and HDR color and of course audio formats will vary. It is best to stick with the native apps on the television if your 4K television has HDR as well.
The Cord Problems
HDMI has both been a blessing and a curse for me. While having one cable for both audio and video makes connections easier and cleaner, the DRM protections included with the standard has meant having to upgrade cables, and unplug them multiple times! In the case of my previous Onkyo Receiver, it even meant having to ship the component for repair due to a malfunctioning HDMI board. Yes, HDMI is awesome when it works, but when it doesn’t it is the most frustrating part of any setup. For 4K, it means another round of replacing all your HDMI cables so they will support the 4K speeds and DRM standards. Don’t even think about using your current cables, just go to monoprice.com and buy new ones. Once you have them, set your HDMI connection to Enhanced (at least that is what Sony calls it if you want to view 4K content), and be prepared to spend 20 minutes trying to make sure the blu-ray player syncs up right. In the case of the Apple TV and my Denon receiver, well, just unplug everything, power it off and start plugging one device at a time! HDMI is suppose to be automatic, but it seems that this was more of a goal than an actual reality for some manufacturers. Yes, I am talking about you Apple! Getting any Apple TV to work with your receiver is the opposite of plug-and-play. Note that a lot of devices do not support 4K at this time.
Receiver 4K Support – Pass Through – Upscaling?
Similar to computer companies who put Intel Inside stickers on their laptops, it has also become fashionable for electronics to be adorned with stickers advertising features and technologies. In the case of my Denon receiver, there was some sticker on it that mentioned 4K. But what does that even mean? Unless your receiver was made in 2017 or is newer, it means almost nothing. The surround receiver, much like the Sony television has become more complicated as well. Modern receivers are slaves to the technologies that televisions and blu-ray players implement. This has meant HDMI boards to allow for multiple inputs and network capabilities. For HDMI specifically, this has meant that the receiver has to support the newer and faster speeds of the HDMI Specification, and at the same time come up with a way to not interfere with the DRM protections (HDCP) that are grounded between the television and the media device (Apple TV, Playstation, XBox, Blu-ray Player, etc). It is the DRM protection that is a problem for older receivers. Although my Denon receiver can pass through 4K resolutions and speeds, it does not know what to do with the newer DRM protection that 4K UHD requires. You will need to upgrade to a new receiver in order to get 4K to be passed through your receiver to your 4K television. Before you buy HDMI cables, a receiver or other component to add to your 4K setup, look for these specifications to be at least: HDCP 2.2 and HDMI 2.0.
UBP-X800 UHD Blu-ray
Given today’s economics, the magic price point for consumers is $300. This is the price range that you will see most companies try to hit when it comes to devices. It is a price that customers view as affordable for entry level tablets, to fancy thermostats and wireless routers. It is the same price range that Sony aimed for the UBP-X800 UHD Blu-ray player. At this price range, the UBP-X800 provides an overall good quality player with an assortment of streaming apps. Sony made some trade-offs in regards to physical outputs and front panel display in order to get to this price range. There are two HDMI outputs, however the second HDMI output is for audio only. This allowed me to keep my Denon receiver and have it process audio only, while connecting the UBP-X800 directly to my television via the first HDMI output. Overall the UBP-X800 is the most responsive disc player that I have ever bought. It beats the previous five Sony Blu-ray players that I have. Is it a perfect high-end player? No. There are $500+ players out there that have more features, but again those players are in a different price range.
Is Blu-ray Dead?
In 2017, there are multiple market realities that are going to hold back 4K adoption. You have the obvious factors such as price and for people who already have invested in 1080 flat televisions, the upgrade to 4K is not as compelling due to the limited internet connections. A more detrimental factor might rest not with consumers but with the media companies themselves. As services like Netflix and iTunes became more popular, physical media sales have been declining for multiple years now. The VHS and DVD formats were very profitable, but as the internet became a content delivery platform of choice, it has resulted in a declining Blu-ray format. A trip to your local BestBuy or Walmart shows that the space dedicated to Blu-ray media is shrinking with every store remodeling. Much like music CDs, the availability of Blu-ray movies is becoming more limited. The upsale to 3D Blu-ray was never more than a passing fad and today you won’t find a 3D Blu-ray section in most stores. The movie studios have begun to adjust to the market; the end result being that some films are no longer even being considered for a blu-ray release!
The market at this time has three different physical formats: DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K UHD Blu-ray. The DVD format is not going away. Internationally DVD is still a high end format. You will find in some international markets, people still renting VHS movies. Those markets will be adopting DVD for multiple years and the inexpensiveness of DVD discs will allow DVDs to remain popular. In the USA, step into any gas station and you will find cheap DVDs for sale.
This leaves us with Blu-ray and 4K UHD. At this time, 4K is not an option by itself. Instead you have to purchase a combo-package that contains usually at least a Blu-ray disc and a 4K UHD Blu-ray. These combo-packages are anywhere from $5-15 above the normal price of single Blu-ray or DVD disc. At this price range, the 4K format is being priced as the most expensive of all formats, including digital online delivery. This does not bode well for the future of 4K or Blu-ray in general. The movie studios should consider lowering the price of entry, because the movie industry has multiple problems.
There are younger generations of consumers who do not go to the movie theater and who do not consider spending two hours watching films to be a worthwhile experience. There is then the glaring issue with films not featuring female and minorities as leads. In my opinion these are bigger threats to the movie industry than pricing Blu-ray discs for profitability. These problems and others with the movie industry can only be ignored for so long.
With Blu-ray in decline and 4K discs being limited and expensive, 4K adoption will be slow and might have to be saved by consumers themselves. The mobile phone is for many consumers already a 4K camera with HDR capabilities. If Disney won’t release Empire on 4K, it may be that you can reach for your phone and make your own 4K content.
At the end of the day, I come home and sit down in front of my setup, throw in John Wick on the UBP-X800…
People keep asking if I’m back and I haven’t really had an answer. But now, yeah, I’m thinkin’ I’m back.
And yes, it sounds and looks amazing!
by WebKeyDesign | Sep 9, 2016 | Out Of The Box, Windows
For this review, I will discuss my experience with a different type of external SSD drive. The Mushkin Enhanced Atlas FLUX USB 3.0 mSATA III SSD Enclosure Kit (AT-ENCKIT) is about the size of Zippo lighter and weighs 2.4 ounces (not including the mSATA drive that you need to purchase separately). Most people would probably prefer a regular USB Flash type drive than this type of solution. The Atlas costs about $20 and then the needed mSATA drive that fits inside can vary from $35 and up. The primary reason I purchased the Atlas, is due to the fact that I had an mSATA drive that I could not utilize for my latest laptop project. The Intel 310 Series 80GB mSATA Solid State Drive SSDMAEMC080G2C1 is an older drive that I purchased on Amazon and which I installed in the Atlas Flux enclosure.
Mushkin Enhanced Atlas FLUX USB 3.0 mSATA III SSD Enclosure Kit (AT-ENCKIT)
- Controller: AS Media 1053E USB 3.0 Controller
- Attachment: USB Attached SCSI Protocol support
- Casing: Durable aluminum casing
- Supported Drives: Supports 50mm and 25mm mSATA drives
- USB Compatible: USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 Compatible
- Transfer Speeds: Supports SATA 1.5 Gb/s
- Plug and Play (PnP) with 3Gb/s and 6Gb/s SSDs
Intel 310 Series 80GB mSATA Solid State Drive (SSDMAEMC080G2C1)
- Capacity 80GB
- Sequential Read – Up to 200 MB/s
- Sequential Write – Up to 70 MB/s
- SATA 3.0 3Gb/S
- Intel Product Page
The installation is quite simple. Mushkin includes a tiny screwdriver, however I recommend using a higher quality Philips #00 screwdriver. I have big hands and it is easier to use a regular full size screwdriver when removing tiny screws as this. Once you remove the panel, the board inside should slide out, and you should now be able to carefully install your mSATA drive. You slide the mSATA drive at a slight angle and then push it down. A snap on clip then holds the drive in place, similar to memory DIMM slots in a laptop. Finally screw back on the panel and you are done.
On Windows 7
I tested the Atlas Flux with my Dell Latitude e5430 laptop. This laptop has three kinds of ports that this drive can connect to. There is a USB 2 port, a USB 3 port, and an eSATAp port (also referred to as an eSATA/USB combo port). The operating system is Windows 7 64-bit. The main issue I had with the drive is that it is not really hot-swappable. Plugging it in the first time, the drive will appear and you are able to format it. But if you unplug the drive and then plug it back in, it will not appear in Windows again. You can restart Windows and then the drive will appear again. The problem was worse on the eSATAp port. The drive would remount over and over on this port. To fix this issue, with the drive visible in Windows, Go to the Start Menu and type DEVICE MANAGER and click on Device Manager in the results. Under Device Manager, under Disk Drives, find the drive and double-click on it. Now click on Policies and select Better Performance and click OK. The Atlas Flux cannot utilize the Quick Removal feature. This means that you must Eject the drive via the systray USB icon or by right-clicking on it and choosing Eject. The drive will now be stable and you may use it without restarting Windows. (more…)
by WebKeyDesign | Aug 22, 2016 | Microsoft, Out Of The Box, Windows
In the previous Setup for Dell Latitude E5430 post, we did most of the legwork to create a boot ready flash drive with all the needed add-on software needed to create a clean image of Windows 7 Pro 64-bit. We now shutdown our machine and insert the flash drive into one of the USB ports on the laptop. If you are using the RecoveryTools 4, the Windows installation will be mostly automated. If you are not using Recovery Tools 4, then you will need to install Windows normally. I will cover both methods.
WINDOWS 7 Begins…
The computer will come up to a text only screen asking you to start from the Windows EMS option. Then a Windows screen will appear asking you to choose a language. The next dialog will ask you to choose which version of Windows 7 you want to install. The choice is Windows 7 Professional. At this point if you are using Recovery Tools 4, the process is automated and you will need to wait for Windows to install itself. If you are not using Recovery Tools, then this is a normal Windows 7 installation and you should install Windows normally and skip to the next section.
The machine will reboot and come up in Windows Audit Mode. The Sysprep dialog box will appear on the screen. Always close this box by using the X in the upper right corner of the dialog. You will need to do this every time you restart the machine. Do not click any options in the Sysprep dialog.
by WebKeyDesign | Aug 22, 2016 | Internet Explorer, Microsoft, Out Of The Box, Windows
My recent project was the setup for a refurbished Dell Latitude laptop that I purchased online. Latitudes are business oriented laptops that Dell sells and leases to a variety of business customers. Many large enterprise level companies lease their machines and return them to Dell periodically as they upgrade to newer hardware. This means that a few times throughout the year Dell amasses a stock pile of old machines that they then rebuild and sell at significant discount prices. Even better, if you browse discount sites such as DealNews and TechBargains they will detail how to get a discount on top the already low refurbished price. Dell has these discounted sales periodically, at the beginning of the year in January or in the middle of the Summer, such as July. If you are going to buy a refurbished laptop, there are some risks. These laptops are not brand new, they have seen some usage, and so if you want a perfect looking laptop you are not going to find one. Your best bet is a Grade A model, which will be priced a little higher. The other factor is that these machines only come with a very short warranty. Three months or one hundred days type warranty will apply. You can purchase an extended warranty from the Dell Refurbish site at the time of purchase, but note that you will be adding to the total price of the machine. You will want to consider this extended warranty price and what it is worth to you personally. In my case, this was a secondary machine that I am not going to worry too much about, so no extended warranty for me. These are older model machines as well and not the latest and greatest technology. Business laptops are not gaming machines either, so if your main emphasis is gaming, consider looking for an Alienware type models instead of Latitudes. Overall my best advice is to wait for the discount from the DealNews.com and then shop for something that you will like and that will cost you about forty-five percent of a new laptop. Once you get higher than fifty percent, I usually think you might as well save up for a new machine that you really want. Given all this, lets get started on setting up the laptop.
Out Of the Box
Dell took about three to four business days to ship the laptop. The machine is serviced by a third party company named Genco. The machine was packaged well and was very clean. The only accessories were the Dell power adaptor and a printed explanation of the standard warranty for a refurbished machine. Below are the specs for the laptop:
Dell Latitude E5430 Laptop (non-Vpro model)
- 2.7GHz CPU
- 4GB RAM
- 1600×900 HD display
- 320GB Western Digital Hard Drive
There were two types of e5430 models, there is an Intel-Vpro model and then there is the non-Vpro model. This one is the latter. The hard drive inside the laptop was a Western Digital mechanical hard drive and it was dated July 19th, 2013. The laptop like the hard drive is from the the same year as well, in other words I bought a three year old laptop.
The installed operating system is Windows 7 Professional (32-bit). There were no installation disks for Windows included, as the hard drive includes a recovery image.
There is nothing wrong with the laptop at this point and it is perfectly usable out of the box. However, I love hardware upgrades and so I couldn’t help myself from adding some things. The best possible upgrade is an SSD hard drive. SSD drives are now much more affordable, and so you can take your pick from a variety of SSD drives out on the market right now. My personal preference is Crucial/Micron and Samsung, but I have purchased other brands such as PNY if they were at a good price. For this project I did purchase the Crucial MX300 750GB – CT750MX300SSD1. I did consider the 525GB model as well, but unfortunately it was out of stock at the time. This SSD drive is a 7mm height drive and a spacer is included so that it fits as a 9.5mm drive. I did utilize the spacer when I switched out the drives.
Next was the memory. In current terms 4GB is not nearly adequate, so I opted for maxing out the memory. Most people might consider upgrading to 8GB memory (2 x 4GB DDR3 modules), since this is a very cheap upgrade to make. The e5430 does in fact support 2 x 8GB modules, for a total of 16GB memory! The easy way to purchase memory for this machine is to visit Crucial and buy direct from them. They will guarantee that the memory will work and are only slightly more expensive than buying from online stores like Newegg.com.
Both the hard drive swap and the memory upgrades are very easy to do. You will need a philips #0 screwdriver and for the lower memory module, I found a plastic spudger handy for pushing down the memory SIMM into place.
Note before doing any hardware upgrades, consider downloading all the required software in the following Software Installation section first if you do not have another Windows machine that you can use to download stated software. Look through Device Manager in Windows and note the type of hardware you have, such as the Network Card, Wi-fi Card, etc. My particular laptop did not have a finger print sensor or Bluetooth. In the Software Installation part we will need to download multiple software, so it is best to use a second machine or read this entire post before doing any software steps.
WARNING! I take no responsibility for any use of software or any losses of software or hardware functions. If you do not know how to use DISKPART or any other tool in this post, then perhaps this project is not for you.
Part 1: Win7_Pro_SP1_English_COEM_x64.iso
Now that we have our e5430 laptop upgraded, the big problem is Windows. The image on the original hard drive is Windows 7 Pro 32-bit and not 64-bit. Even if I took the original software image from the drive, it would not recognize my new memory. My goal is to setup this laptop with Windows 7 Pro, the 64-bit version. The machine fully supports 64-bit Windows, so the problem is just the media. The laptop has an OEM license for Windows 7, and so I do not need to purchase Windows 7 Pro 64-bit, I just need to get the installation media.
Here is where nothing is ever easy. Windows 7 ISO images are no longer easily attainable directly on the Internet. There is a long story about this, but I will skip that and simply state that from a Windows machine with IE 11, you can do the following:
First go to Heidoc.net and learn about what you will want to download. In this case a Windows 7 64-bit OEM ISO image. Next download and run his Microsoft Windows Download Tool. This will allow you to download a clean ISO image of Windows 7 64-bit, the exact file name being: Win7_Pro_SP1_English_COEM_x64.iso
Part 2: Flash Drive Setup
Once downloaded, you will need an 8GB or 16GB USB Flash Drive. This will be used as the installation source.
Insert the flash drive and note what drive letter it shows as.
Type CMD in the StartMenu Search and right-click and choose Run as administrator. Use DISKPART to setup the flash drive. Note that for the SELECT DISK command you will need to substitute # for the exact number that the flash drive comes up. Choose wisely, if you are not careful you may destroy your other disks on that computer!
SELECT DISK #
CREATE PARTITION PRIMARY
SELECT PARTION 1
FORMAT QUICK FS=FAT32
With the flash drive setup, the next step is to copy the ISO onto the flash drive. There are multiple ways of doing this. For this step I placed the ISO file in its own folder and then used WinRAR to extract the contents. I then copy and paste into the flash drive root directory.
The Latitude e5430 supports UEFI, which is the replacement for the old BIOS system that most computers have used for multiple decades. We want to take advantage of EFI booting later, so we need to have the flash drive boot with EFI. This requires a different boot file to be in a specific location on the flash drive. The ISO does not have this as default for Windows 7.
From a Windows 64-bit machine that you are already using, there should already be the file file you need.
Look for bootmgfw.efi under C:\Windows\Boot\EFI and copy it to the flash drive here:
The file then must be renamed from bootmgfw.efi to BOOTX64.EFI in order to work.
You now have a flash drive that you can boot from in EFI mode.
If you need further details on the flash drive steps see Creating Windows UEFI Boot-Stick in Windows.
More helpful links:
Part 3: Windows Setup With Factory Recovery Partition
What I do like about OEM computers is that they come setup with a hidden partition to reimage your machine in case you want to reset Windows back to a zero ground state. However what everyone does not like about this: is that the OEM image is usually filled with crapware that no one wants and it is not a clean setup of Windows. But how about if you could setup your own? In this section we will cover how to do this. If this is too complicated feel free to skip to the next section.
RecoveryTools 4 uses Microsoft tools to setup an OEM image and recovery tools for a new install of Windows. This software is free, but it is complicated process if you are not coherent with software setups.
- Download RecoveryTools 4.05
- Place the self extracting file into a separate folder and doule-click on it.
- Download the the Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK) for Windows 7
- Place the AIK ISO file in its own folder and then use WinRAR to extract the files to the same directory
- Next install the AIK Tools
With the AIK Tools installed, we follow the directions from RecoveryTools for Windows 7. From the Windows 7 AIK, you will need the following files:
- IMAGEX.EXE (32 and 64 bits version)
- OSCDIMG.EXE (32 bits version)
If you installed AIK, these files will be located here:
- C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\amd64 (for 64-bit)
- C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\x86 (for 32-bt)
Copy IMAGEX.EXE (32 bits version) to the RecoveryTools 4 folder path:
- \Windows 7\Windows 7 Recovery Tools\ImageX\32bits
Copy IMAGEX.EXE (64 bits version) to the RecoveryTools 4 folder path:
- \Windows 7\Windows 7 Recovery Tools\ImageX\64bits
Copy OSCDIMG.EXE (32 bits version) to the RecoveryTools 4 folder path:
- \Windows 7\Windows 7 Recovery Tools\OscdImg
Next we want to copy the entire RecoveryTools 4 folder to the root of the flash drive we setup earlier. There are two more files we need.
Under RecoveryTools 4\Windows 7\AutoUnattend\GPT\ there is an AutoUnattend.xml file, copy this to the root of the Flash Drive.
Under RecoveryTools 4\Add-On\ there is an Ei.Cfg file. This file must replace the current file that is under the SOURCES folder on the root of the Flash Drive.
Part 4: Add-ons for Flash Drive
In order to save time, it is best to go ahead and create a DELL folder on the flash drive and add some more add-ons that you will need later on. I will cover these under the Updating Windows section. For now here is the list of recommended installers:
Dell Specific Updates for a Latitude e5430 Laptop:
- Intel Chipset Drivers: Chipset_Driver_CPNKY_WN32_220.127.116.119_A00
- Intel Management Engine 9: Chipset_Driver_GJVHD_WN_18.104.22.1680_A02
- Intel USB 3: Chipset_Driver_THK45_WN_22.214.171.124_A05
- Intel 4000 Graphics Driver: Video_Driver_DCG08_WN32_10.18.10.4425_A18
- HD Audio: 3330_Audio_Driver_C6HVR_WN_1.0.6491.0_A08
- Ethernet Network Card: Broadcom 57xx Network_Driver_PGHX7_WN32_17.0.2_A00 (maybe different depending on your machine)
- Wireless Network Card: Dell 1530 Network_Driver_5RHDN_WN_126.96.36.199_A02 (maybe different depending on your machine)
- Conexant D330 Modem: CONEXANT_D330-HDA-MDC_JF0K3_A01_SETUP_ZPE, CONEXANT_MULTI-DEVICE_A03_R207060
- Memory Card Reader: Chipset_Driver_D7TG2_WN_3.0.07.44_A04
- Freefall Sensor: Chipset_Driver_V6681_WN_4.10.0046_A06
- Dell Multi-touch Touchpad: Input_Driver_YXX3D_WN32_10.1207.101.109_A03
One more installer will be needed. We are going to install a specific version of Intel Rapid Technology drivers. These are not on the Dell site. The reason for this is that this specific set of drivers work best for this laptop. These are the Intel Rapid Technology E Drivers version 188.8.131.520. To read more about this topic you can read this Win-Raid.com post. You can download the drivers from Intel or from Win-Raid.com: Intel RSTe Drivers.
Part 5: F2 & BIOS Setup
Take note of what version of Dell BIOS your machine has. If it is not the latest, I recommend you download the latest BIOS (in my case the non-vPro version) and upgrade your BIOS first before continuing.
At this point we have gathered all our software on our flash drive and are ready to almost install Windows 7. We must however make some changes to the e5430’s Setup.
- Restart the laptop and press F2 to enter the BIOS Setup.
- Under General – Boot Sequence: change to UEFI
- Under System Configuration – SATA Operation: change to AHCI
- Apply Changes and Exit
Part 6: Hard Drive Setup
This step is optional and only needed if you want to wipe the hard drive. It is included here, in case you need to redo the setup of Windows. To manually wipe a hard drive and convert it to GPT:
Turn off the PC, and put in the Windows installation DVD or USB key.
Boot the PC to the DVD or USB key in UEFI mode. For more info, see Boot to UEFI Mode or Legacy BIOS mode.
From inside Windows Setup, press Shift+F10 to open a command prompt window.
Open the diskpart tool:
Identify the drive to reformat:
Select the drive, and reformat it:
select disk #
Close the command prompt window.
Continue the Windows Setup installation.
We are now ready to start installing Windows! Continue reading Setup for Dell Latitude E5430 – Part 2.