Category Archives: Tech Stuff

Clean-Install Windows on 2020 MateBook X Pro

Installing a clean copy of Windows on the 2020 Huawei MateBook X Pro is more complicated than on previous generations. Follow these steps set up a clean Windows installation of your preferred language and edition. English speakers who are getting your 2020 MateBook from China will need this.

Preparation

  1. Back up any needed files from your current installation. We will be wiping the disk.
  2. If you need Windows in a different language than the one it came with, you must buy your own copy of Windows. If you’re in university, check if your school provides Windows 10 Education (feature-equivalent to Enterprise).
    1. Reason: the OEM license is single-language only.
  3. Use Microsoft’s Media Creation Tool to create a bootable installation USB drive.
    1. Within the install drive, delete \Sources\ei.cfg to enable the prompt to choose a different Windows 10 edition such as Pro or Education. Otherwise, it will default to the current edition (Home).
  4. [1909 only] Copy Intel’s WiFi driver to the USB drive.

Installing Windows

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Disable Power Limits using ThrottleStop

If your CPU frequency is being reduced under load, even at low temperatures (below 90°C), then you probably have power limit throttling. Here’s how to disable those power limits.


Warning: disabling your power limits may cause your computer to run at levels of power beyond its design. Make sure you keep BD ProcHot on. If BD ProcHot kicks in, your VRM is not getting enough cooling and you need to decrease the power limit or improve the VRM cooling.


How do I know I have Power Limit Throttling?

  1. Open ThrottleStop’s “TS Bench” to run a stress test.
  2. Set the Size to 1024M so that it runs longer.
  3. Start the TS Bench.
  4. Open the “Limits” window.
  5. If any PL‘s light up, then you have power limit throttling.

Disabling Power Limits

  1. You need to have ThrottleStop set up. That’s covered in this guide. Make sure you read it before this one.
  2. Open ThrottleStop.
  3. Go to the FIVR menu.


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Fix Precision X1 Not Opening or Crashing After Splash Screen

The Problem

You try to open Precision X1, but it closes itself after the splash screen, and the main window won’t open at all.

The Cause

Do you have multiple GPUs in your system? Graphics cards of different models? eGPU? Ever since version 0.3.1, Precision X1 breaks in face of GPU diversity.

The Solution

Go into Device Manager and disable the other GPU you’re not currently using. In this case, it was my laptop’s own MX250.

Workaround: Broken “Input Range” Setting in Intel Graphics

The Problem

Comparing between 0-255 and 15-255 input range.

If you’re connecting your laptop to a TV and the black in the image is gray instead, your laptop is not outputting the full 8-bit-per-channel color range. Instead of sending values between 0 and 255, it’s sending 15-255. You could compensate for this in some TVs’ settings, but you’d be losing color definition.

Input Range setting in Intel Graphics Control Panel

Intel defaults to 15-255. There is a setting for this in the Intel Graphics Control Panel (In Video > Color Enhancement), but it doesn’t seem to take any effect… unless you do the following:

The Workaround

  1. Make sure Input Range is set to ‘Full Range‘.
  2. Now go back to the main menu and into the Display page.
  3. In the Color Settings section, Enable ‘YCbCr’.
  4. Wait for several seconds for the setting to revert itself. You should now be getting full 0-255 color range.

You have to do this every time you restart the computer or reconnect the TV.

MateBook X Pro 2019 Changes: What’s Fixed and What’s Not

I will outline what Huawei has and has not fixed in the 2019 MateBook X Pro compared to the 2018 model. You can find the more obvious talking points on The Verge and other normie sites, but here are the small engineering changes that I noticed during my teardown and testing.

Cooling

Screenshot from my teardown https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sxf_bU6OZXE&t=11974s

  • Huawei has perforated the regions of the heatsink above the CPU VRM. Whereas 2018’s VRM would overheat and cause the laptop to abruptly shut down when the CPU is pushed to around 15W, 2019’s VRM can supply over 30W continuously just fine. The CPU starts thermal throttling way before the VRM has any problem keeping up. I did manage to find the VRM’s limit though: with a fan blowing at the laptop’s bottom, the VRM bumps into a hardware current limit when the CPU reaches about 48W. That’s the maximum power the VRM is designed for.

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Actually Useful Tweaks to Make Your Laptop Faster & More Efficient

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These are the tweaks I use every time I set up a Windows laptop, to make it faster, more power-efficient, and less annoying. Some of these are pretty standard and well known; others are more advanced and thorough.

Fresh Windows Installation

Skip manufacturer bloatware altogether and start with a clean slate. YOU decide what OEM packages you want to install back.

  1. Back up your files. If your laptop comes with a display calibration profile (like Razer Blade), then find the ICC file in Windows\system32\spool\drivers\color and back it up to reinstall it later.
  2. Use the Windows Media Creation Tool to make an installation USB drive.
  3. If you want features like Group Policy Editor (helpful for some tweaks below), you'll want to install the Pro version instead. In this case, download this ei.cfg file (right click, save link as) and put it in the \Sources folder of the created install disk. Putting this config file there enables the option to choose a different Windows edition. You'll need a license for Windows 10 Pro.
  4. Boot into the install drive using the Boot Menu or Settings/Update & Security/Recovery/Advanced Startup.
  5. Go through the installer. While doing so, make sure you choose the "Custom" option instead of "Upgrade", and delete all the partitions. Choose to install Windows in the resulting unallocated space—it will set up the partitions for you.
  6. Once you've booted into the system, wait for Windows Update to automatically install drivers - no need for any OEM software to do this. If a device is still missing drivers afterwards, you can selectively get that driver from the manufacturer website.

Reduce Startup Programs

Make Windows start up faster by disallowing unnecessary programs to automatically launch.

  1. Open Task Manager (you can press Ctrl+Shift+Esc).
  2. Go to the Startup tab and disable any programs you don't need to automatically self-launch every time you turn on the computer.
  3. You can also do the same thing for many programs like Spotify and Skype from within the application's own settings page.

Disable Intel's Cringe-worthy Graphics Features

Does the brightness or color of your display change by itself from time to time? Intel's "image enhancement" is probably messing with you. All these "enhancements" do is make the image inconsistent and worse.

  1. Open Intel Graphics Control Panel by searching "graphics" in the Start Menu.
  2. Go to the Video section.
  3. In "Color Enhancement", disable Total Color Correction.
  4. In "Image Enhancement", disable Skin Tone Enhancement, Contrast Enhancement, and Film Mode Detection. All of these mess up the color content.
  5. Go back to the Power section.
  6. Disable Extended Battery Life for Gaming to get maximum frame rates.
  7. Disable Display Power Saving Technology. This one messes with your display brightness. Make sure you set this for both "On Battery" and "Plugged In" and all power plans.
  8. A Windows version update may reset the Power settings, so set them again if that happens.

Disable Panel Self-Refresh

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Prevent Installation of a Specific Driver WITHOUT Group Policy

You can prevent Windows from automatically installing or updating a specific device or driver using the “Prevent installation of devices that match any of these device IDs” Group Policy, but what if you’re using Windows 10 Home and don’t have Group Policy Editor? You can do the same thing using Registry Editor.

  • For convenience, we can edit this template REG file to our needs and install it, instead of manually creating each registry in Registry Editor.
  • Once you’ve downloaded the REG file, right click on it and Edit. We’re going to replace the Device ID in the template with the correct Device ID of your device.

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My AutoHotkey Script for Typing Special Characters

This is the AutoHotkey script I use to type common special characters, including Spanish accented letters, superscripts, math and science symbols. I’ve also included shortcuts to simulate the media control keys.

You can copy and paste the script, or download a precompiled version that doesn’t require AutoHotkey to run.

You can put it in %appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup (navigate to this quickly by running “shell:startup” in the Run box) to have it automatically run at Windows startup.

(‘!’ means Alt, ‘+’ means Shift, ‘^’ means Control, so ‘!a’ means pressing ‘Alt’ and ‘A’ together.)
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