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Sager 9262 Experience (incl Upgrades)

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August 13, 2011 3:58:12 PM

Update Aug 31, 2011

I have had my Sager 9262 for nearly 3 years and it's still going strong. I use the computer for everyday home use (the typical stuff) and some more demanding things including WOW, Sonar X1 and X-Plane, etc. Overall I feel the performance is roughly similar to my wife's new max'd out MacBook Pro, with some configuration differences that benefit me in how I use mine--pretty good for an 3-year-old laptop.

I've upgraded and fixed issues occasionally, and wanted to share info on that. I'll break it down by component:

Operating System:
Originally Windows Vista. I don't care for Vista, but I tweaked it and it was decent. Upgraded to Win 7 the day it was released. So worthwhile, the machine performs better. I have gone into services and settings and reduced extraneous things from running--search the web for guides on this.

Processor and RAM:
Originally had an E8600 Core2 Duo CPU and 4 GB RAM. Upgraded to Q9650 quad core and 8GB RAM--these give WEI subscores of 7.3 for the processor and RAM. I think the computer responsiveness was much improved in my more demanding tasks, with much better multitasking overall. If you just look at specs, it appears I moved to "slower" parts, but the benefits outweigh those specs, I don't notice any disadvantage actually. I also disabled the HDD page file--when I look at my RAM usage, I never get to 8GB, but I do go over 4GB. Found a Xeon x3380 and swapped my Q9650 processor for that (almost no cost)--difference is 3.16 GHz (~5% faster), not nearly the difference going to Quad made, but seems just a hair snappier now with the X3380 when I have it working hard.

Video Cards:
Had a pair of 9800m GTXs in SLI from the beginning--these give WEI subscores of 7.1 for both Graphics and Gaming Graphics. Updated drivers periodically, newest ones seem to be fine. Previously it seemed "newly released" drivers could bring issues so I'd revert to an earlier set for a while. I tweak settings, but I don't overclock the video. One tricky thing was when I started using a 1080p LCD as my main screen, and went to a full-screen 3D mode (WOW or X-Plane) the resolution would change and look horrible (like the PC was sending something other than native 1080p)--turned out that the newer NVIDIA drivers were communicating to the LCD that "this is a game now" and some non-helpful scaling thing would activate. Look through the NVIDIA control panel when you are connected to an external LCD, you'll find a setting for the video card to "Report" to the external screen, set: NVIDIA Control Panel--> Display--> Adjust Desktop Color Settings--> Content Type Reported To Display--> to "Desktop Programs". Also I believe I had a cable loose at one point in the PC for the video cards and occasionally the display would corrupt and blur (like water colors smeared) but that has not happened in a while--restarting or Alt-Tab'ing to desktop (to 2D non-SLI?) would cure it when that happened, never knew why, also never found anything on the web about it either, I have put new thermal paste on the GPUs and reseated the cards and SLI cable. RECENT UPDATE: it appears one of my 9800m's failed--was able to swap the 9800s' positions with each other, and got the computer running again, but SLI wasn't working... after reading up on "baking" video cards to revive them I decided to try that (chips up, take off all the shielding and material, 385 deg F for 8 minutes--there was a little glue residue on it for the baking, no issues with that). Now the computer appears to be working normally, Device manager is happy with both 9800's again, SLI settings in the NVIDIA control panel are normal, rerunning some 3D and the WEI assessment didn't crash, looks good once again. Will be keeping an eye on this... (update: it's working great, no issues, I'm a believer in "Shake -n- Bake"!) I've lost other NVIDIA video cards in other machines in the past. Might need to check out the baking technique for some other parts I have laying around. Discovered some hot-keys, one of which is Fn+1 (function key and the "1" key together) turns on the cooling fans to High, I do that now when I have the machine working something in 3D.

Hard Drives:
Started with 2x160GB 7200rpm drives in RAID0. At the time, good stuff, but after about 3 years a HDD began to fail. I got my personal data moved to another drive, but lost the Windows install. Got a large 7200rpm single HDD for a while, missed the performance of the RAID... Recently upgraded to a pair of Intel 320 160GB SSD's in RAID0--these give a WEI subscore of 7.7. Awesome performance now! It now feels like the whole PC is balanced in terms of performance--like the HDD isn't the bottleneck. I did revert a BIOS setting from RAID to AHCI mode while tinkering and fixing my original HDD situation (I don't recall why I did that at the time) but since I had "built" the single HDD Windows 7 install in AHCI mode, I had to use a regedit tweak to turn the RAID drivers on in Windows before I could turn on RAID in the BIOS (and then move my system over to the RAID0 setup). If you switch to RAID0 SSD's:
(1) Turn on the RAID drivers in your current Windows install. Not doing this may prevent you from activating RAID in your BIOS (more specifically, when I turned on RAID in BIOS, I got BSOD when I tried to boot--so I had to go back to AHCI and try to figure it out...). People not knowing to do this (turn on RAID drivers in Windows before changing the BIOS) appears to have led to folks generally thinking that you need to fresh install Windows to RAID (not true, you CAN move your current Windows install over...) Link:
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/922976
(2) SSD's will perform better if Windows features are tweaked for them. Link to tips on that:
http://www.overclock.net/ssd/929553-win-7-ssds-setup-se...
(3) I relegated the 750GB HDD to my third drive now. Partitioned: (1) first partition is a bootable full copy of the current C drive (the RAID), so I can directly backup the RAID0 drive to the HDD and just start using it if I have a future issue with the SSD's. The other partition of that HDD is a data area where I'll park things I don't use often (completed projects).
Note: the Intel 320 SSD's are SATA2 but so is the 9262... A lot of SSD performance comparisons now focus on SATA3 SSD's and may not show the Intel 320 favorably, but consider the reputation for Intel reliability and these might be the right drives for you too.

Network Card:
Intel 5300. I use Zone Alarm, works great for me. Did some updates to software and drivers, which in turn gave me wireless problems. Troubleshooting and attempted fixes were futile, until I uninstalled ZA, then installed the latest Intel driver for the wireless (13.5.x at this time), then re-installed ZA. Now it's happy again.

General Notes:
I think that laptops are generally constrained in terms of cooling and power. To help the cooling, I use a USB fan-equipped cooling pad under the machine at all times and clean out the chassis with compressed air. I use a UPS and surge suppressor (at home), I avoid overclocking the video cards, the SSD's use less power than the three HDD's I had in there, and I think that using the external LCD (with the on-board LCD off) reduces power consumption inside of the 9262.

I hope this is helpful to other 9262 users, or perhaps folks considering a used 9262. My spouse was encouraging me to upgrade to another PC if I wanted to (she's grateful for her new MacBook Pro), but I don't think I need it. It's hard to imagine any more upgrades for this machine, nor needing to upgrade from this machine for a while. I wonder about ATI mobile cards for this machine... Overall, I hope to enjoy this machine for a while and want to skip another increment of PC technology or two before I buy my next.
a c 572 D Laptop
August 13, 2011 8:38:42 PM

Thanks for taking to the time to drop in and let us know about your experience.
January 31, 2012 11:34:31 PM

Funkk said:
Update Aug 31, 2011
Processor and RAM:
Originally had an E8600 Core2 Duo CPU and 4 GB RAM. Upgraded to Q9650 quad core and 8GB RAM--these give WEI subscores of 7.3 for the processor and RAM. I think the computer responsiveness was much improved in my more demanding tasks, with much better multitasking overall. If you just look at specs, it appears I moved to "slower" parts, but the benefits outweigh those specs, I don't notice any disadvantage actually. I also disabled the HDD page file--when I look at my RAM usage, I never get to 8GB, but I do go over 4GB. Found a Xeon x3380 and swapped my Q9650 processor for that (almost no cost)--difference is 3.16 GHz (~5% faster), not nearly the difference going to Quad made, but seems just a hair snappier now with the X3380 when I have it working hard.


Thanks for the great info, cleaning the fans is a must!

I've had my NP9262 for three years now and still loving it. I wanted to upgrade my ram and bought 8 gb @800mhz, but can't get it working. Did you go with 667mhz to upgrade the ram to 8gb? I'm running Vista 64bit so that can't be the issue.

I also purchased mine with a single 9800m gtx and wanted to upgrade the video card with sli. Problem is I can't find a place to buy any cards that I can be sure will fit inside and work. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
!