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New Dell Laptop - Now What?


fortytwo

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Pulled the trigger on Costco's Dell Laptop with the UHD dislpay.

 

The good so far:

Scheduled for delivery today, came Saturday

Display is great

The "hybrid drive" is actually a 120GB SD and an 1TB regular HD

Quite, no fan noise that I can hear; no heavy processor use so far though

Data, photos, music etc moved easily by thumbdrive and MyCloud

The not so good - yet.

Doesn't boot fast. Win 10 does it's atrocious update and the first boot takes 15 minutes.

No internal optical drive. My old one does not have drivers :(.

No way to move old programs. Can't use a restore as it's Win 7.

 

I'm moving from an HP Envy to the Dell. I have a wireless network which has a WD 4TB MyCloud that has all the data from the HP Envy plus older archived data not loaded on it. Wireless transfers move at 4 times the rate of copying from a thumb drive. I can buy a new external DVD to load most of the programs I can't download again. A few, however are old legacy. Are they lost, except to the old HP? Is there a process I'm not aware of?

 

I keep getting a popup to let Dell download "the software I have purchased". I presume that it's bloatware that Costco did not load. I've already deleted McAfee in favor of Defender.

 

I may load an older version of Office as I use Publisher for a few things and it's not in the new versions of Office. I only use Word and Excel at a basic level. Don't really need the Office Suite, nor having to buy a subscription. Will probably migrate to Google docs.

 

BTW, this Dell model that Costco is selling is not the latest that I find reviews for. The newest version of this model has a very slim bezel around the screen, 4 USB ports instead of 3, and probably a few more mostly cosmetic things I missed. Didn't see any major performance related changes.

 

Overall pleased with the hardware; not happy with the changes Microsoft introduced for the sake of calling a spade a shovel.

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"I can buy a new external DVD to load most of the programs I can't download again. A few, however are old legacy. Are they lost, except to the old HP? Is there a process I'm not aware of?"

Do you have the CD or DVD of the older programs? If so, you can run a virtual XP machine, or whichever version they were loaded on. If not, yes, they are lost.

 

I would not use Office 2003 as support for it has been dropped. Lots of Office patches for security needed.

 

 

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The "hybrid drive" is actually a 120GB SD and an 1TB regular HD

 

 

 

A hybrid drive is defined as small SSD combined with a conventional hard drive. It's my understanding, however, that the two are configured to act as a SINGLE drive. The SSD should serve as a form of cache for files used frequently. What I have read is that the machine's effective speed will increase as you use it as the appropriate files are transferred to the SSD. What I read was that initially it will appear to be no faster than a conventional HDD but that should improve with usage.

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docj, From what I could learn there are two classes of hybrid drives: small SSD plus a traditional HD, and a HD that has a larger cache that supposedly is a "smart cache" which learns to store the most frequently used data. My point was that Costco did not highlight that the Dell had the supposedly preferred SSD/HD combo as the hybrid. They show up as "C" and "D" drives, with all the software that came with it loaded on C.

 

It seems to be learning as my boot time tonight was 16 seconds to the desktop though the activity circle was still rotating so I don't think it was quite ready to work.

 

If I read RV's post correctly Win 10 has an emulation of XP like the Pro version of Win 7 had. That should work for all the programs I really need. I will have to get a new USB optical drive and will get a USB3 model. Just have to decide whether I need to get a Blue Ray read capable one (looks to be double the price). The Dell UHD screen paints a gorgeous picture, but I haven't determined if I will ever want to watch Blue Ray disks on it as I have 75" 4k Samsung mounted on the wall. Maybe in the RV though.

 

Lots about Win 10 I have to discover yet. That'll have to wait til after Christmas though. Gonna challenge Santa and spend it in gluttonous indulgence on a cruise ship.

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If you search the Dell website for "hybrid hard drive" you are directed to a description of a HDD with an 8 GB flash cache. http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?c=us&l=en&s=dhs&cs=19&sku=400-ACFU&mfgpid=235646 There is no discussion of the "two drive" approach which you apparently have on yours.

 

Here's a description of all the Inspiron 7000 15" models. The ones that have hybrid drives all have the 8GB flash.

 

I don't doubt what you have but It's not clear to me if "all" Costco Dells were built like yours or if you were just lucky! :D

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Sorry Wes but from what I understand Windows 10 does not have emulation but you can run a virtual machine:

http://www.download3k.com/articles/How-to-add-an-XP-Mode-Virtual-Machine-to-Windows-10-or-8-using-Hyper-V-00770

 

I don't run virtual machines or emulations as I just migrated my data to the new programs. That should do the trick. Wes what is your model number?

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Here is the Dell 15 7000 with the hybrid drive on Dell's website - http://www.dell.com/us/p/inspiron-15-7559-laptop/pd?ref=3181_TitleClicks&oc=dncwpw5722h&model_id=inspiron-15-7559-laptop. It was the 5th choice, which required noticing that "Next" was available. The drive is described as "128GB SSD [128GB Solid State Drive] + 1TB 5.4k HDD [1TB 5400 rpm Hard Drive]".

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Yeah that's what I thought. My Dell has the same type of SSD+HD setup but they are not one drive, they are two separate drives. They use them as a large faster cache and the main drive. When this one becomes my back up I am going to try and upgrade the SSD to a 256, load everything on it, and then use the 2TB HD for storage only. There must be a reason for their not doing it that way. But it is not a hybrid drive in mine either Wes. Here's the description on my system with the 64GB mSATA+2TB HD http://www.dell.com/us/p/xps-27-2720-aio/pd?oc=fdcwlp1397hw10&model_id=xps-27-2720-aio You'll see the descriptions of the SSD+HD are the same.

 

Both of these Dell systems have two physically discrete drives operating as partitions in the system.. I just double checked in File Explorer and my system names the SSD as DATAPART1 (G:), and the Hard drive as OS (C:). There is also a Winretools (D:) Which has the Dell Boot and recovery data.

 

I have a 1TB Seagate hybrid drive with the 8GB cache and the rest HD, all in one drive case, not the same. I did not notice any perceived increase in speed with a hybrid after a few months of use. But it was in my old i5 quad core 8GB RAM Lenovo H330 desktop. I switched that system to an SSD before selling it. I need to sell the hybrid drive because it is a waste for just storage.

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Here is the Dell 15 7000 with the hybrid drive on Dell's website - http://www.dell.com/us/p/inspiron-15-7559-laptop/pd?ref=3181_TitleClicks&oc=dncwpw5722h&model_id=inspiron-15-7559-laptop. It was the 5th choice, which required noticing that "Next" was available. The drive is described as "128GB SSD [128GB Solid State Drive] + 1TB 5.4k HDD [1TB 5400 rpm Hard Drive]".

 

But if you look at this list of Dell 15 7000 models http://pilot.search.dell.com/7559 all the ones labeled hybrid drive have the 8GB flash rather than the separate SSD. The unit referenced in your link above does not use the term "hybrid drive" in its writeup.

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Apparently the Costco "special" Dell has the SSD instead of the cache. Before I ordered it I read the reviews of Costco buyers and several stated that they found an SSD even though it wasn't mentioned in Costco's ad. Mine Dell shows two distinct drives: SSD = C, with the OS installed, and a 1TB regular hard drive listed as D, which was empty. I installed virtual partitions on the 1TB as I always do for Data, APPS, Photos, Video, and Temp-Swap.

 

Mine is now cold booting in 15 seconds, which is pretty close to tablet speed. Still pondering what kind of USB optical drive to buy before I dig out the install CD's. Any time I can do so I install programs to a drive other than the OS drive, or partition. That may not be the best model in this one. We'll see. Hopefully the software is smart enough to cache that portion of a program that needs to be loaded fast, on the SSD. If not, I may have to reinstall some programs on the SSD, which has 57 of 106 GB free.

 

Mine has a tag that reads: Inspiron 15 7000 Series as a sticker on the keyboard face. The back has nothing beyond a serial number to identify it. My Costco invoice only has an item number. One of the salesmen in the Fort Myers electronics area told me that Costco upgrades {changes) their specifications at 3 month intervals. They are almost like an "Overstock" type store selling leftover lots. Not necessarily bad, just that if you want another you probably won't get the same specs.

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I had hesitated buying the one from Costco because I wanted the "real" SSD rather than the 8GB flash. By the time I read your post Costco was already out of them and there's no guarantee that they'll ever have any more and, as you say, the next batch may well be different from these. But the specs on yours are almost exactly what I was looking for so I ordered one directly from Dell. I was able to get them to get the price down to nearly the same as Costco's so I don't feel too badly about it. You did a better job of sleuthing it out by reading the reviews than I did. ;)

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Hi RV:

 

Hope you're enjoying a good Christmas with your family. My Xmas present to myself was the new laptop. BTW, in addition to the i7 6700HQ processor, the 16GB of RAM and dual SSD/HDD, it has a UHD touchscreen and a discrete GeForce GTX 960M graphics card. I've run it through a few benchmarks and it performs pretty well.

 

I do have a question about my new laptop that you might know the answer to. I've made a backup of the SSD with Macrium Reflect aandnd created a bootable USB. I've figured out how to access the BIOS and I created a new boot option for the USB. But the problem is that even though the Macrium USB is supposed to be compatible with Secure Boot, it gets rejected with a "wrong signature" error message. I can't figure out how to resolve it other than possibly turning off Secure Boot in the BIOS but I hate to fool around with stuff I don't understand.

 

Do you have any experience with this? I'm not wedded to Macrium so if there's another program that would work better I would be willing to change to it.

 

Joel

 

Note added later: I was able to get Windows to make its own image disk and it was able to create a boot media which does boot fine with Secure Boot running. But the Windows Backup images aren't compatible with Macrium and the Windows process is a bit more cumbersome to use IMO. After the holidays I plan on asking Macrium for help.

 

I think the answer will be to turn off Secure Boot during the recovery process. Holding down F12 during boot gives me the Boot menu and one of the options is doing just that. I just want to make sure that doing that doesn't cause any other problems.

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