You need an inexpensive «typewriter», but instead Microsoft and Acer have made a «Chinese craft» for you with a configuration that is obviously not working.

In detail about how the system looks like with a budget processor, Windows 10 and a 32 GB drive.

/* Think of this text as evening reading. And if you need information on the merits — scroll to the conclusions.*/

Why was it necessary

For me, laptop kids with 12-inch screens and weighing about a kilogram are ideal for trips and business trips. These are some kind of typewriters for working with texts, on which you can still surf the Internet and watch a movie in the evening. I’ve been running around with similar models regularly since 2005. In 2017, it’s time to replace the then old man with something more cheerful, but as budget-friendly as possible.

In general, it was all the same what to take, as long as it worked. The only thing I wanted was not with the old “Atomic nuclei” of the Bay Trail type, but at least upgraded ones, for example, Apollo Lake. In single-threaded mode, they are one and a half times more productive than the previous «atomic» ones, and multithreading on a typewriter is rarely needed.

What did you choose in 2017?

It was a pound Acer ES1-132 with a dual-core Intel Celeron N3355 (Apollo Lake) and a price tag just below 16k.

The drive was a tiny 32 GB eMMC. The size of the drive didn’t bother me as I planned to replace it with a normal SSD. Fortunately, for him there was a separate compartment with easy access.

First ambush was discovered after opening the cover of the disk compartment — the disk connector turned out to be not soldered there, in addition, its place was closed by a plastic plug.
(UPD: as suggested in the comments, the unnamed connector under the memory slot is just for the HDD. Disks are connected to it via a special cable. On Ali, these are found with price tags from 800 rubles.)

The solution was simple: leave only “Windows” and “Office” on the drive, and place everything else on a small and nimble USB 3.0 flash drive that would not crawl out of the case.

To assess the scale of the disaster, I did a test of the eMMC drive (since I have to live with it) and posted the results here. Generally tolerable. At least much faster than typical HDDs, especially in small file operations.

Then he stuck in an additional memory bar, bringing the amount of RAM to 6 GB, and went to look for smart flash drives in stores.

What happened next could be described by the old saying: «a wonderful sunny day began, which did not portend anything bad — it was Friday the 13th.»

It turned out that almost all small flash drives overheat and start to slow down.

The market is full of small flash drives that practically do not crawl out of the boundaries of the USB connector. And among them there are smart models showing in linear read / write speeds in the region of 100/60 MB / s. In order to store movies and work data on them, more than enough.

But studying their tests, I suddenly discovered that after 40-50 seconds of intensive work, almost all the crumbs overheat and turn on throttling on their controller, dropping the speed by five times (no, I don’t confuse it with caching in the OS).

As a result, I had to stop at a flash drive from Transcend, which noticeably sticks out of the socket and shows slightly more modest results in linear tests (about 97/29 MB / s) than overheating counterparts, but does not slow down.

First thunder — Win10 doesn’t know how much space it needs

After its first inclusion, the laptop was updated for almost a day (this is not a joke)! Upon completion of this procedure, out of 32 gigs, only nine remained free on the drive! Yes, «Windows» took more than 20 GB! Then I rolled the licensed «Office» there and just the little things. There was 5 gig of free space left, and there was no need to worry.

So, thunder struck: in the fall of 2017, the first Creators Update number 1703 reached the laptop. It swung without demand, leaving less than a gig on the drive. And it started…

And it started with the fact that for the installation he asked to free 6 GB! Those. this is two gigs more than all the software I installed there!

I took the time and started to tear everything down, do a disk cleanup, remove stupid software from Acer, demolish old restore points. After all these ordeals, he lacked something around 950 MB.

There was a smart idea to take it to the Acer service under warranty and say, they say it’s broken, it won’t be updated, fix it! And let them have fun with him there. After all, someone in this company came up with the idea to install Windu on 32 gigabyte drives.

But we are not like that. The second phase of demolition began, which affected system software, all kinds of Java, Microsoft Visual C ++ Redistributable libraries, and indeed everything that took more than 1 MB (even casual games).

In general, after a couple of hours the right place was found. The update rolled up, and after the demolition of the checkpoints, only 5 gigs remained on the drive (I have not installed my software yet). At the same time, all the wonderful innovations of MS in this update did not interest me in principle.

After this nightmare, I returned only the browser, free office and a couple of compact graphic editors with which I worked.

A little more than six months remained until the next J.

Take two: everything is like autumn, but tougher!

In the spring of 2018, an update arrives, codenamed Redstone 4 (1803). With two gigs free, he asks for five to download and then another six to install. And to complete the picture — 16 GB on a connected flash drive! …

In general, it’s a mystery to me what Microsoft thinks when they give the green light to such updates on systems with a 32 GB drive. Well, or what the PC manufacturer thinks when he puts such a “creation” on sale.

Moreover, if this update is not downloaded, all other update activities are completely suspended, including updating the databases of the built-in Defender! Well, I didn’t want to leave Windu without updates, turning it into a holey sieve, especially considering that my daughter and other family members sometimes used the laptop.

In general, now it’s hard to say how I scraped together all these gigabytes then, but I remember one life hack — this is disabling the swap. In my case, it freed up an additional one gig.

There was another attempt to switch the swap to an external USB 3.0 HDD, but when rebooting, Windows gave an error and wrote that it still made the swap on the main drive. Why, I never figured it out.

Double three: MS noticed the problem, made a fix, but it doesn’t work

Almost a year-long lull was broken by another mega-update with the number 1903. MS finally realized that there were problems with installation on small drives, and tried to solve the problem. Here’s what they did:
1. Windows no longer downloads it automatically, but waits for the user to notice and press the download button (I think that the coordination of this very moment took a whole year).
2. Moreover, other minor updates are being downloaded and installed (sounds like a breakthrough in general).
3. If there is not enough space on the main drive, it asks to plug in a USB flash drive or another external drive in order to borrow 10+ gigs of free space during the installation.

But this is all theory, but in fact the circuit turned out to be inoperative (MS, I did not doubt you). To begin with, the system still asks to free up a lot of space on the main disk (well, as it were, okay). After she was given on the main drive 500 MB more than requestedwork on the installation of the 1903 package began to boil.

As a fan of experiments, I made a few more attempts to roll up the update, changed the initial conditions (connected drives of different types, freed up additional memory, played with swap). However, the result was still the same.

Solution from the early 90s

In the logs of unsuccessful updates, the error code 0xc190020f flickered, which hinted at the still existing lack of disk space. This means that Winda does not understand how much space she needs, and more should be freed up for her. But how?

A brain query returned a 30 year old solution (when the grass was greener and a 4 mega 386DX40 was every guy’s dream because it already ran DOOM). Yes, we are talking about disk compression. Some of my friends resorted to this procedure when their systems with a 40-80 MB HDD did not have enough space for almost anything. In Win10, the ability to archive a disk was preserved, and in my case, Disk Cleanup through archiving promised to free up as much as 6 GB. I decided on this procedure out of desperation. As a result, instead of the promised 6 GB, only 1.8 GB was released.

The downside of this idea is that the system will now need additional processor time to constantly archive / unarchive data on disk. And with processor time, everything is ambiguous here.

In the end, it rolled! And after deleting all the old versions of the OS and restore points on the disk, suddenly there was 8 GB free. But, there is a suspicion that only until the next mega-update, which may crawl closer to winter.

Part 2: what is the core processor in practice

I repeat that the topics of processors with old «Atomic» cores (Bay Trail, Braswell, Cherry Trail), which prevail in the super-budget segment, I do not even touch. They have very low performance per core, which will determine your user experience.

If you want to quickly figure out which processors have which cores, the plates from this article will help you.

The only budget mobile Intel processor with relatively bouncy cores is the Celeron N3350. It has two Apollo Lake cores (Goldmont architecture), which can easily peak at 2.4 GHz. However, the N3350 has two followers — Celeron N4000 and N4100 (Gemini Lake).
The next step in performance is the old ones on the Haswell architecture, but their power consumption starts from 15 W versus 5 W for Goldmont (i.e. all laptops with them will already be with active cooling with all the consequences, including the price tag).

Feelings of work

So, if we take the functions of a typewriter, then everything is fine. In principle, even CS: Condition Zero with reduced detail and resolution is quite tolerable on it. It also quite successfully chews scripts in the Facebook feed, plays all kinds of videos, although it slows down the playback of HD videos from VKontakte (via Firefox).

But this whole idyll has one BUT — this is Windows 10. Regular search and installation of updates take two weak CPU cores into 100% load for a very long time (sometimes for 20 minutes). Also, without asking for 15-20 minutes, Defender can sit on both cores (which has all kinds of checks disabled). On faster systems, you don’t notice all this at all (when installing the same mega-update 1903 on a laptop with a Core i7-6500U processor, it simply displayed a message that it had already downloaded everything, started installing and just wants to reboot), but here you will always be aware that the system is up to something again. Sometimes it seems that the same Defender just mines on the sly. But if you ignore these antics, then it is quite possible to live.

How to live with 32 gigs and Windows 10 (conclusions)

The main advice is not to buy. And if for some reason you are ready to play these games, here are the things that will help you (after wiping everything off the disk):

  1. Do not forget about deleting previous versions of Windows (via Disk Cleanup) and old restore checkpoints.
  2. Back up the volume (you can check the box in the properties of the disk, or you can through the «Disk Cleanup» by clicking the «Clean up system files» button there and then select the archiving item in the list).
  3. Disable swap for the duration of the update if the system has more than 4 gigs of RAM.
  4. There is also Microsoft WimBoot technology. It replaces copies of OS backup files with pointers, but there’s a lot of work to be done. For those who are interested, there are a lot of details (thanks to Zhevago for the hint).

But in general, we must remember that without «shamanism» a system with a 32 GB drive and Windows 10 is not capable of rolling global updates on its own. In addition, having stumbled over those, it will not allow you to install other minor updates, eventually turning the system into a leaky sieve in terms of security.

Such fake laptops in 2019 are offered by Irbis, Digma, Krez, Prestigio, Haier. And if everything is clear with these companies, then HP and Acer (there is one model each) continue to amaze.

In general, take care of yourself.


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