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 Command Center by searching "graphics" in the Start Menu.
  2. Go to the Video section.
  3. Press the "+ Custom" button to create a different video mode.
  4. Turn off all the "enhancements" like Noise Reduction, and Film Mode DetectionSkin Tone Enhancement, and Contrast Enhancement. All of these adulterate the content your computer is meant to display.
  5. Go to the System section, and then Power.
  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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You Actually CAN Bring Your Own Android to Xfinity Mobile

Contrary to what Xfinity Mobile officially declares, you actually can bring your own Android phone (BYOD) to Xfinity Mobile. You just need an iPhone that you or a friend have laying around unused.

  1. Bring the spare iPhone to the Xfinity Store and tell them that’s the phone you’ll be using.
    1. If you’re making the switch online, enter the iPhone’s IMEI on the webpage.
  2. After the initial activation, take the SIM card out of the iPhone and insert it into your Android.

Xfinity does not have anything in place to actively block your ‘unapproved’ Android from accessing their network. Your or your friend’s iPhone will remain on their records as associated with your phone number, but you are able to use your Xfinity SIM card in any compatible phone.

There are a few caveats. The rule of thumb for whether your phone is likely is succeed is:

  1. It should be a Verizon-compatible phone. Xfinity uses Verizon’s network. If a Verizon SIM won’t work in your phone, Xfinity won’t work with it either.
  2. If your phone is similar to one that Xfinity themselves have offered, your chances are much higher.

Examples: I have been using my Galaxy S8+ (which I originally got from Sprint) this way without any problems. On the other hand, OnePlus phones on Xfinity can’t send or receive SMS.

Did this work for you? Leave a comment.

2nd-Gen MateBook X Pro (2019) Revealed in FCC Docs

Feb 24 MWC Update: turns out this is the all-new MateBook 14.

A 2019 successor to the Huawei MateBook X Pro is coming, and it’s looking good — at least in these documents from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

Annotated page of KLV-WX9 (2019 MateBook X Pro) label document from FCC, showing unique port selection and revised design.

The model in question is the KLV-WX9, codename ‘Kelvin’. See the original label document here. Read more about MateBook model codenames here.

Chassis

At first glance, the updated MateBook X Pro looks very similar to the MateBook 13’s bottom, with a wide air intake for a dual-fan cooling system. However, you can see that this is a more premium laptop: it has a machined aluminum unibody just like the current X Pro, while the MateBook 13’s body is composed of multiple, cheaper, mostly two-dimensional stamped aluminum sheets.

Measuring the body drawing to-scale, the new MateBook appears to be roughly 4mm wider and 7mm taller. So, we may be getting the webcam on the top bezel, or a slightly bigger (14″?) screen, or thicker bezels in exchange for more internal space, or none of the above — Huawei’s drawing may just be distorted.

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Easily Disable Intel DPTF (Power Throttling) for Good

Important: this is no longer necessary; ThrottleStop‘s “Disable and Lock Power Limits” option overrides DPTF. If that doesn’t work, try the following.

If your CPU frequency is being reduced under load, even at low temperatures, you’re probably experiencing power throttling. Most of the time, you can solve this by disabling or raising the power limits, and disabling DPTF explicitly is not required. But sometimes, you need to disable Intel’s Dynamic Platform and Thermal Framework, which tries to set the power limit dynamically on your behalf.

Your laptop may have an option to disable DPTF in the BIOS menu. If not:

  1. Install NoDPTF.reg to prevent Windows from automatically reinstalling DPTF.
    1. This registry file is from my NoDPTF project repository on GitHub.
  2. In Device Manager, find all the devices whose names start with "Intel(R) Dynamic Platform and Thermal Framework". They may be in the "System devices" list. Right click on each and "Uninstall device". Check "Delete the driver software for this device" whenever available.

This method only works if you have Group Policy Editor (Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise, Education).

  1. Open the Group Policy Editor.
  2. Go to Computer Configuration/Administrative Templates/System/Device Installation/Device Installation Restrictions.
  3. Open "Prevent installation of devices that match any of these device IDs".
  4. Click "Enabled".
  5. Checkmark "Also apply to matching devices that are already installed".
  6. Click "Show".
  7. Now you will enter the device ID of each of the DPTF-related devices. You can find them all by finding those devices in Device Manager/System Devices or by copying all the values from NoDPTF.reg.
  8. Click “OK” and "OK" again. You should see each of those devices become "Unknown device" in Device Manager. That means they are disabled.

Keep in mind: the removal of DPTF will not inherently change anything until you raise the power limits using ThrottleStop or Intel XTU.

Warning: if your computer can’t cool its CPU VRM properly, then raising the power limits may cause it to suddenly shut down. If that’s the case, you need to give the VRM more cooling like I did here.

If any DPTF devices are still present, please tell me their hardware IDs in the comments. (To check hardware ID: right click on the device, Properties, Details, select “Hardware Ids” in the drop-down menu.)

Reversion Instructions

  1. In Registry Editor, delete HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\DeviceInstall\Restrictions.
  2. Reboot.

MateBook X Pro Survey Results: Most User-Modified Laptop!

How common are the issues plaguing the MateBook X Pro? And how many users have taken solving them into their own hands? This past month, I surveyed 309 visitors of Reddit.com/r/MatebookXPro and BradsHacks.com about their experience with the critically acclaimed Huawei laptop.


The majority of the surveyed users reported having a loose or rattling touchpad. Based on my understanding of how the touchpad is installed into the frame, I suspect that all units actually have this issue to some degree and some users just don’t perceive it as an abnormality. After all, loose trackpads are quite common in laptops.

Subjective Perception

Similarly, the issues with temperature and various types of noise are inherently subjective. For example, the same laptop can be considered too hot or loud by one user yet be completely acceptable for another. Some people are more sensitive to the buzz of coil whine and work in quieter environments, so they could notice the coil whine much more than others.
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Huawei Revises MateBook X Pro with Speaker Distortion Remedy

Previously, the Huawei MateBook X Pro’s speakers would produce distortion because they rattled against the laptop body. As shown in this unit purchased in November, Huawei has addressed this issue by putting small pieces of foam underneath the speakers. Is this because they saw my original post, where I both pointed out the issue and introduced this very solution? We may never know.