Lenovo + Windows 7 = Speed

Let’s face it.  Other than machines like the ThinkPad W700, Lenovo machines aren’t known for their speed.  Most of the time the reviews I read say “average performer” or some variant thereof.  Many of our business customers don’t care about benchmarks as Microsoft Office is fast enough as it is.  But nearly everyone wants faster boot and reboot speed.  They also want their system to shut down  and suspend faster. Rebooting is a fact of life.  Install a new piece of hardware and odds are that you’ll have to reboot.  If Adobe decides to push down the fifth Acrobat security patch in a week, you’ll have to reboot.  Sun Java updater – reboot.  Anti-virus patch that goes beyond virus updates, reboot.  You get my point. Now imagine you’re a corporate user whose IT team has just rolled out a full hard drive software encryption product.  Statistically you’ve got a 3 year old notebook with a 5400 rpm drive running Windows XP.  I pity you.  Your average boot time just went from 3.5 minutes to over 6.  Your shutdown takes three minutes.  You reboot an average of three times per week.  In other words, in round numbers, waiting for your PC to shut down and start up is costing you an hour of your life per work week. Conservatively, $20/hr. employee x 1 hr/week lost productivity x 4 hours/month x 12 months/year, means that you’re paid $960 a year just to wait for your PC.  Your company has a thousand workers just like you and is therefore wasting just under $1 million per year because none of them can work done because they’re all waiting for their PCs.  No wonder coffee at the office canteen costs so much.  Your company has to recoup the cost of all of you not doing anything.  (Corrected to fix a stupid math error.  Thanks MathGuy!) Even in a Windows 7 world, reboots are not going away, but they can be made significantly faster.  To that end, our software engineers have been hard at work tuning our preload so that Lenovo machines running Windows 7 will have some of the lowest boot and shutdown times in the industry. At Intel’s Developer Forum last week, the Phoenix BIOS team showed a proof of concept system which loaded Windows 7 in under 10 secondsI doubt your ThinkPad will be quite that fast, but personally, I’m able to reboot in well under a minute using our standard customer preload. Take a look at the scale of these improvements below.  Since our preloads and benchmarks are not yet final, I had to cut off the scale of these charts (sorry).  But even just looking at the length of the lines tells a good story.

Lenovo Windows 7 Boot Time Improvements

  • T400s (notebook) – Using an SSD will give you the best performance overall – even better than most desktops.
  • SL410 (notebook)– This machine used a spinning drive and boot time was reduced by about one third.
  • A58/M58e (desktop) – Compared to running XP, boot time is cut roughly in half
  • M58p (desktop) – This is our vPro enabled desktop tuned more for corporate stability/manageability than speed.  Still, using Windows 7 makes this class of machine scream.

The Intel Developer Forum example above suggests some BIOS tweaks you can do to speed up your boot time.  First, if you’re a home user and have a Centrino Pro or vPro system, go into BIOS and turn off iAMT (vPro) support.  On a corporate network, vPro can provide significant benefits.  For a home user, it’s worthless.  By doing so, you’ll save about 2 seconds of boot time.  While you’re in BIOS, look at your boot device list.  Do you REALLY still need your system to search for an LS-120 drive on startup?  How about that USB floppy?  All an average user really needs is boot support for DVD drives, USB memory sticks, and their HDD.  Your system will go through line by line of each of these items until it finds something with a boot sector.  This adds boot time. If you’re a Lenovo user, you can usually just set the system to boot from the HDD only.  If you need to boot from a memory stick (or anything else) you can always press F12 when you turn your system on and boot from anything you’d like. Last, if  you don’t need serial or parallel port support, turn those off too.  They’re legacy ports which require certain amounts of hardware initialization in a specific order which also takes time.  I can’t promise you’ll notice the difference, but why encumber yourself if you don’t have to? Oh, and one last thing – if you’re running a modern system with Windows 7, in my opinion, don’t bother with Microsoft’s “Hybrid Sleep” or hibernation any longer.  On the rare times I turn my system off, I’ve found that rebooting my system is far faster than coming out of hibernate.  Plus I get the benefits of a fresh start. I suspect you’ll notice the same.