todo - there are more notes to be added, I've just been busy/lazy.
This is a low-end low-cost laptop. It was on extreme sale, and as it has USB 3.1 it'll do fine.
Very highly recommended: This thing is awesome in every way. Exception: It's childishly-glossy.
Display: 11.6-inch HD (1366x768)
- Non-touch, anti-glare, LED-backlit
- The next version of this laptop is a "2-in-1" which can flip over into a tablet and has a touchscreen.
- Memory: 4GB, DDR4, 2400MHz
Storage: 32GB eMMC
- Other models have larger storage (non-eMMC).
- One USB 2.0 port (480 Mbps)
- One USB 3.1 Gen 1 port (5 Gbps)
MicroSD card reader
- todo - the SDXC class is unknown
- Bluetooth 4.0
CPU: AMD E2-9000e
- 1.5 GHz (2 GHz turbo) - 2 core, 2 thread
- Another model of this laptop is a base of 1.6 MHz, and a third model has a base of 1.8 MHz
- Graphics: Radeon R2 (integrated)
- Also provides audio out
Camera: 1280 x 720 (HD) at 30 fps
- .. which is fine for VoIP calls, but poor for recording videos.
Windows 10 Home
Other notes: ∞
- Dell Inspiron 11 (3180) Usage and Troubleshooting Guide
- Windows 10 Home is set up as Compact OS
- Audio: Realtek ALC3204
Dell Wireless 1707 Card (802.11bgn + Bluetooth 4.0, 1x1)
- Bluetooth is automagical.
This laptop reportedly has official Ubuntu support, though I don't see any mention of it.
The keyboard is great; all the keys are in the right places.
- Others complain about the key travel distance, but it's just fine for me (so far).
- See Windows 10 touchpad gestures
-- My first bootup required me to enable more complex gestures.
-- A later restore from a recovery USB had this functionality enabled by default.
-- There is no "back" or "forward" gesture, mimicking mouse
button5. todo - test - I'm told that the Synaptics' TouchPad device drivers will allow this.
The USB 3.1 port has PowerShare (Toshiba calls it USB Sleep-and-Charge), which lets the computer be asleep and the port remains available for charging.
- This is not available on its USB 2 port.
- microSD cards are apparently not bootable; mine did not appear in the boot menu.
F2to enter setup.
F12to enter the boot setup.
The BIOS has an impressive suite of diagnostics.
- Its functionality is largely duplicated in Windows GUI: SupportAssist "hardware checkup", though I wasn't able to find a GUI temperature sensor tool.
A liveUSB of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS was briefly tested.
- TODO - test persistence
- The McAfee suite was capping out my CPU usage, and so I didn't feel bad about uninstalling it to reclaim some much-needed disk space. No seriously, I couldn't do Windows updates without doing this.
- In the diagnostics screen, swipe or click the
>at the bottom-right to get to the report and thermals.
There isn't any keyboard diagnostics functionality built-in.
This is an extremely low-power unit, with a CPU running at a mere 6 watts!
- Stoney Ridge (w)
- (compare related)
- (AMD Athlon II X4 2.5 GHz vs E2-9000e
Graphics (GPU) ∞
AMD (integrated graphics) "E series"
An average desktop graphics card will easily be several times faster. This is not a gaming laptop.
Native H.264, H.265 and 4K support, making this a great video player.
- From what I can see, there is also encoding support.
- Tested and works with VLC. A 4K H.265 video played at perfect quality, and seeking was fast and flawless. There is some CPU use, with a 1080p H.265 video spiking CPU use to around 25%, and 4K at around 50%, leaving plenty of CPU cycles left for other tasks.
Shared memory (Video memory is shared with the system)
Dell Wireless 1707 Card (802.11bgn + Bluetooth 4.0, 1x1)
- Qualcomm QCA9565 (DW1707)
- Up to 150 Mbps
- Single band 2.4
- 64-bit and 128-bit WEP
- Can open to 135 degrees
- 60 Hz
- Viewing angle: 40/40/10/30
Pixel pitch: 0.1875mm
- Blacks "shine" a little at odd angles, but straight on everything looks great.
- I watched a short film and didn't even think to look at quality; it was that good.
- The indoor brightness is perfect.
- The viewing angle definitely washes out if you put it on your desk and try to look at it from odd angles, but it's perfect when sitting and using it.
At a distance, its viewing angle for "black" washes into grey quite easily.
- This is especially noticeable at the DOS/console
- Windows, its background and web surfing all look great
TODO - test outdoor brightness
Disable Cortana/etc web search ∞
Win-s was too slow for me, because it would suggest internet searches, so I disable it. While I was doing that, I figured I may as well disable such internet search functionality everywhere, for general speed and privacy elsewhere.
Booting from USB ∞
Booting from either USB 2.0 or 3.1 will work.
- F2 configuration:
- Firmware TPM: Disabled
- Fast Boot: Minimal
- Secure Boot: Disabled
- Legacy Option ROMs: Enabled
- Boot List Option: UEFI
- Attempt Legacy Boot: Enabled
.. now the thing is to set, and order, the items below.
(1) Add additional entries with "File Browser Add Boot Option"
- Give it a name, maybe something like
Boot from USB
- Scroll to that new name and press
- Scroll to the device and press
- Navigate to your
EFIdirectory and select your
(2) Sort the entries
- Scroll to the list under UEFI Boot
Scroll to the entry you made (e.g.
Boot from USB)
F5to move it down
F6to move it up
I went through this process to make two boot entries, one for the left USB (3.1) and the right USB (2.0). This will make it such that I can put a USB key in either USB port. Also, setting the boot order will let me decide if I want to prefer the left or right be booted up.
e.g. make the list:
- USB 3.1 (l)
- USB 2.0 (r)
- HDD1-Windows Boot Manager
- F12 configuration:
> Change boot mode setting
UEFI with Legacy OPROM; Secure boot: OFF; fTPM is OFF
If you see something like:
Change BOOT mode to:
Legacy Boot Mode, Secure Boot Off
UEFI Boot Mode, Secure Boot On
.. then you have misconfigured things. Return to the F2 setup and re-check those settings.
Opening it ∞
As I had repairs done, I got to observe the opening process
- Turn it over to see its bottom
- In the middle there is a small plastic cap covering a screw. Carefully pry it up.
- Nine screws should be visible, remove them
- Place the laptop bottom-down
- Open it as you usually would (screen facing you, touchpad in front of you)
- The edge closest to you dips down right in the middle. This is what gives you a small opening with which you opened the laptop a moment ago. Notice the top of the laptop is a plate with the keyboard and touchpad in it.
Pry up the keyboard-plate at the dip in the front. Be sure to use a plastic flexible tool that is wide, otherwise you will damage the plastic.
From the diagnostics screen, the "thermistor" (temperature sensor) results are encouraging:
Even after heavy use the numbers stay around there. The table underneath it the laptop will get noticeably hot though.
Process Lasso did absolute wonders for both speed and cooling. It seems like the table is cooler, but I didn't do any real testing on this.
Freeing up disk space ∞
As I got the minimal Inspiron, it had the very smallest amount of disk space. It is abysmal. Do these:
powercfg /h /type reduced Compact.exe /CompactOS:always
(Cortana) > "View advanced system settings" > Advanced > (Performance: Settings) > Advanced > (Virtual memory: Change) and reduce the size of the swap file. Removing it isn't recommended, since this laptop doesn't have a lot of memory.
To do ∞
- How do I press the SysRq and ScrollLock keys? What about numpad keys?
- Read the manual(s) again.
- Process Lasso did absolute wonders for both speed and cooling.
Battery life testing
- Drive speed testing
- MicroSD speed testing
- I was forced to uninstall a few games and a McAfee suite. Can they be re-installed without requiring my using the restore USB I made?
- Because I'm using an eMMC, does that mean I have a free M.2 slot to put in a drive?
- Radeon ReLive is for streaming.
- cannot copy2ram, but it fails gracefully
- persistence works
- has a graphics corruption issue.
- Graphics corrupts briefly, but recovers.
- Textmode is corrupt
- Ubuntu copy2ram won't work; 4 GB isn't enough memory.
- todo - I had formatted NTFS though.
Some software I believe were reported in the manual do not exist:
- Dell Webcam Central
- Dell Backup and Recovery
- PC Check
- "Dell SupportAssist" is actually "SupportAssist"
- "Dell Power Manager" is actually "Dell Power Manager"
- For a perfect console text size, GRUB uses video mode
- i386 desktop kernel panics
- i386 minimal cannot find itself during the boot
Devuan ascii 2.0.0 i386, both desktop and i386 will boot correctly
- I used Rufus, which seems nice and simple.
- copy2ram works.
- persistence was not checked, I don't know how to do that with a straight ISO
- Video is corrupt
deletekey was broken, so I'm getting a replacement. Sigh.
- Their tech support process is awkward and takes time to get going, but it ultimately works very well.
I saw a couple of typos in the PDF manual, and a section in it referred to something that was discontinued in mid-2017.
F2to enter into the configuration
- It has a menu item for
Advance, which is a typo for Advanced.
- The BIOS is in an ugly font because it is 1024x768 text stretched to the 1366x768 screen.
The first thing I did was to run the BIOS diagnostics. They're very impressive!
- ePSA Pre-boot System Assessment (4306.12)
- TODO - change the battery charge BIOS preference?
The left side of the laptop
- .. has the battery. It runs noticeably warm; I don't understand how it can be gauged at only 32 C.
- .. triggers my Magnetic field sensitivity.
Windows has a great setup
- .. but why ask for my keyboard layout? I guess Dell couldn't or didn't want to customize that part of the Windows installer.
- Oh, the mouse pad is clickable!
- USB 3 and 2 were not bootable. I would later learn I had to change the BIOS to legacy booting and use a BIOS boot menu to select a device.
- Slow reboots
- I can't hold down
F12when rebooting; I have to continuously tap.
- Solid keyboard
- Great screen
Dell offers some driver updates for this laptop, however some of them are incompatible and complain when run.
- The AMD chipset driver is incompatible.
- The SSD update does not apply
- Windows should come with appropriately-sized/cropped images for the desktop background and screen lock.
- I don't have a splitter, but headphones work great.
The built-in speakers sound great.
- I've heard I ought to keep the audio software which comes with this laptop: Dell Audio utility's default presets (speaker enhancement on, MaxxSense preset)
HDMI dual-monitor works great
-- I managed to temporarily muck up the screen display of my laptop when unplugging, but it sorted itself out automatically after a few moments.
- Audio is automagically shifted to the new device.
Windows has no functionality to just "update" a recovery drive.
- Does it even keep any downloaded/applied updates since its last re-creation?
- I installed all the drivers/updates I manually downloaded from Dell
- I did a little Windows configuration
- I created a Windows restore USB
- I turned WiFi on and pursued a Windows update
- Updating took fucking forever, and ended up running out of drive space and requiring a USB stick. Why would Dell ship a device which can't even update itself?
- Upon reboot, I got "Please insert the eternal storage media and press OK".. and neither USB slot would work. I didn't even take the stick out between reboots.
- Windows would no longer boot
- Well thankfully I have a restore USB
- Updating began the very large "feature update 1803"
- I made a restore point after the download and initial installation of 1803
- I rebooted
- 1803 failed to apply
I needed to free up space for 1803
- Uninstalled some games and the McAfee stuff. I don't know if I can re-install these later.
My earlier USB stick is no longer detectable, was it fried?
- I would do more testing. Yes, that USB stick was apparently a blood sacrifice; I'm okay with that.
1803 worked, however..
- Storage Sense was disabled by it
- It deleted my restore points and disabled that functionality
- It had still more updating to do
- 0x80070002 errors while updating. I saw this earlier. I ran the updates troubleshooting tool (from the troubleshooting menu item on the left), and it repaired most things, and I went back and clicked 'retry' and it worked.
- It seems like 1803 was not installed after all! The log says it was, but another 1803 showed up, requiring a reboot and a long update.
All updates worked this time!