Averatec 2370 is downclocked to 800 Mhz after upgrading to Vista (Averatec abandons customers)

September 23, 2007 at 3:16 pm 11 comments

I installed Vista on my Averatec 2370 and it became painfully slow. Vista sucks! On the other hand, may be we shouldn’t blame Vista without more proof. I ran Super PI and notice that performance has been cut exactly in half. That sounds more like there is an issue with the power management, since a laptop run at half the speed during idle to save power. I installed RMclock and discovered that my hunch was correct. The processor is running at 800 Mhz no matter which power profile I used. Vista has made my laptop lazy!

Death by Inaction

No only was my laptop running at half the speed, there were other problems. Normally, when the laptop screen is closed, it goes to sleep. I normally set the laptop to do nothing when when the lid is closed so I can carry it around without it going to sleep. Instead of doing nothing, the laptop screen goes blank and never comes back. There was no way to recover without reboot (though I did found a solution for that later).

Calling Averatec for some help

I contacted Averatec to see if they know a solution to the issue. They told me that no one has reported this issue and that I was the first person to report this. Averatec thought that there was something faulty with my machine and that I should send in it. I did not want to do this. During the warranty period, I had to send my laptop in twice for repair. The second time, Averatec kept the laptop for over 2 months waiting for parts. If I sent in it, I may never see my laptop for another couple of months. I decided to do some investigation on my own.

The Online investigation

If no one has reported this issue to Averatec, there are certainly a lot of people online who have the same problem who called Averatec. Many of the posters had gotten the free Vista upgrade that came with the Averatec purchase and encountered a drop in performance after the upgrade. To make things worse, Averatec also told them that since they upgraded their laptop, they were no longer eligible for technical support unless they revert to XP. Unfortunately for people who upgrade, they cannot go back since their XP license key had been invalidated by the upgrade.

The Linux kernel thread indicated that ACPI on Averatec 2370 and many of the AMD Turion machines were broken. At least for Linux, there were patches to allow the laptop to run at the full speed, but no such patch exists for Vista.

In addition, Everex makes a laptop name Everex StepNote ST5340T that’s identical to Averatec 2370, since both are rebadged Twinhead H12F laptops. Users of that Everex laptop owners did not report any problem with Vista. The difference between the two models is that Averatec 2370 has R1.05 BIOS and Everex has R1.09 BIOS.

The Cause of the problem

The root of the issue is a bug in the BIOS for version R1.05 and earlier. The ACPI implementation is broken in the BIOS. As a result, Vista is trapped into running at the lowest possible speed and the no action to fail. I don’t know why this doesn’t happen in XP.

Unfortunately, Microsoft did not created any patch for Vista to correct the BIOS issue, so it must be fixed in the BIOS for Vista to work properly. Since the Everex laptop did not have the same problem, one would assume that the problem has been resolved in the later release of the BIOS. I contacted Averatec to know if they have answers to my investigation and if they will release a later version of the BIOS that will solve the problem. Averatec promised that they will contact HQ for some answers.

Averatec invokes the Doctrine of Infallability

Averatec HQ’s response was highly unprofessional. I already told them that I know of others online who have called in with the same issue and Everex has resolved the issue with the R1.09 BIOS. If Averatec can just release a more recent version of the BIOS, we could be all happy. Instead their response was

  • I am the only person with his problem. Never mind that I already told them that I know of others who called Averatec with the same issue.

  • There is no later BIOS because the manufacturer did not release one. If they did, Averatec would have release it. However, since Everex gets the BIOS from the same manufacturer, this is not true. The most likely explanation is that Averatec has stop paying the licensing fee and so can’t get the later version of the BIOS.

  • There is no problem with Vista, if I can’t see the reality of this, then there’s nothing more they can do for me. These were their almost exact words. Apparently, HQ’s words trumps customer experience.

  • Vista is not a supported OS even though there is a “Window Vista Capable” sticker on the front of the machine.

 

What an interesting customer service strategy, tell the customer that their problem doesn’t really exist and point out that the problem only exists because the customer has no grip on reality.

Solving the problems on our own

I looked through the web and figured out a few solutions. I will post them in the order of difficulty in hopes of helping my fellow Averatec 2370 owner

     

  1. Stick with XP. This is the easiest solution since the computer does not have problems under XP. Of course, if you upgrade to Vista using the free Vista upgrade in 2007, you can’t go back.

  2. Install RMclock to get around the broken power management by replacing it with RMclocks’s custom power manager. RMclock is fairly easy to setup and it is a program so it is perfectly save. As soon as you quit the program, the laptop returns to its default behavior. The downside to RMclock is that it is a just a program. You cannot run it until you login. This mean when you first boot up the computer, it will run at half-speed until you login and run RMclock. Every time you log out, RMclock will quit and the computer will be slow again. In addition, you need to have admin permission to run RMclock.

    RMclock will not fix the problem No Action, so make sure that your Power button, Sleep button, and Lid isn’t set to “No action” or you may end up with a blank screen. If you managed to do this, you can get out of it by hitting the hotkeys for sleep (Fn+F4), which puts the laptop to sleep and then click on any key to bring it back out.

  3. Install an alternative OS like Linux. Under Ubuntu, my Averatec 2370 runs at the correct speed and CPU scaling worked properly. Amusingly, you can then install a virtual machine like Vmware or Virtualbox and run Vista in the virtual machine at speeds that are faster than the real machine under the broken BIOS. Unfortunately, after trying it for a few months, I decided that it was not feasible. I had initially tried several distro and found that only Ubuntu 7.10 seemed to work mostly out of the box, but not everything worked. The wireless had drop out mysteriously until I compile a more recent driver from sourceforge. The sleep and hibernate worked, but sometimes the laptop would not wake up. The audio jack didn’t automatically switch off when you plug in a headphone like in Vista.

    When Ubuntu 8.04 came out, I was hoping that more of the issue had been fixed. The wireless was now worked close to perfect, but now sleep and hibernate does not work at all even with the corrected BIOS.

  4. Install the Everex BIOS. Basically, we flashed the Averatec 2370 with a later version of the R1.09 BIOS from an Everex StepNote ST5340T machine. After the flash, the machine will work perfectly with Vista. The following instruction shows you how to do this. Keep in mind that I am talking about an Averatec 2370. There is a model out call Averatec 2371. I don’t know if 2371 is the same motherboard as 2370, so it may not work. I must warned you again that this method have a potential of bricking your laptop, though the chance is small.

Flashing the BIOS

Flashing the BIOS is dangerous. It’s dangerous not because we are flashing a BIOS from a different company (the machines are identical), but because the flashing process itself can turn your computer into a brick if interrupted. Some manufacturer will not warranty a flash failure. This is why you should only flash your machine if there is no other recourse. In addition, think about not doing this until your warranty has expired. I am pretty sure Averatec will void your warranty if the machines boots up with an Everex logo during repairs. You can reflash the BIOS with the Averatec BIOS before sending it back to Averatec, but if you’re probably not going to be able to this if your machine is broken.

The first problem we encountered is that there is no Everex BIOS to download. The Everex come pre-installed with the R1.09 BIOS so there was no reason for Everex to post it online. However, a clever person name Jackyl managed to grab a copy of the BIOS off a machine and posted it on the notebookreview site as a bunch of zip files. At this point, you may wonder if this is even legal. It is definitely questionable from a copyright standpoint. The only reason we are doing this is because Averatec won’t release the later BIOS and because we can’t even buy the BIOS from the manufacturer. If Jack Bauer crash through the door to arrest you, tell him that Averatec set you on this life of crime.

Go to this thread and download all of the Zip files. Unzip each of the files and unrar the file. I used the 7zip utility to both unzip and unrar the file. When you finish, you’ll have an R109.bin file that’s 512K. This is the BIOS file.

Now you’ll need some way of installing the BIOS, there are several ways of doing this. I will give detail description of how I did this in the past. I will also mention how other people online said they have perform the installation. You’ll have to google and ask them yourself on the exact details.

In all cases, make sure that the laptop is plugged in and that you have a fully charged battery. This is insurance to prevent a fail BIOS flash because there was a power outage.

Winflash method

In the old days, BIOS was flash by booting into a DOS floppy and then running a program to flash the BIOS. Most computers these days don’t even have a floppy drive, so most manufacturer these days uses WinFlash. Winflash allow you to install flash from within Windows.

If you go to the Averatec website and look up Averatec 2370, you’ll see two BIOS related files, one for R1.04 and one for R1.05. You actually want the R1.04 file because it comes with the Winflash utility.

Download XP_Bios_with_WinFlash_Utility_R1_04.exe and unzip it. Inside the folder is the BIOS file H12FA000.ROM. Rename your R1.09.bin file to this file and replace H12FA000.ROM with the renamed R1.09 file. What you have done is replace the 1.04 BIOS with 1.09.

Next, reboot your machine in case there’s something running in the background. Turn off your virus checker, your windows automatic update, scheduler and quit from all possible program. You do not want your virus checker or check disk to interrupt your BIOS flash. Follow the instruction and run the AFUWIN.exe utility.

Noted that I have only upgraded my computer under XP. I do not know if Winflash works properly under Vista.

The Floppy Method

If you download the R1.05 BIOS from the Averatec website, the readme file tells you to boot from floppy. This will leave most people scratching their heads since there is no floppy drive on Averatec 2370.

What you can do is buy or borrow a USB floppy drive and then create a boot floppy. Do the following:

  1. Create a boot floppy. You can do this by going to a machine with XP and a floppy drive and formatting a floppy with Boot disk option. This is the way I did it. If you don’t have access to such a machine, check out the boot disk site. There is probably a disk image you can use to create a start up floppy disk. All the disk do is to boot your command to a DOS command line so you can run the flash command.
  2. Go the Averatec site and download the R1.05 BIOS. Unzip the file, you will notice a BIOS folders with the following file H12FA105.ROM. Rename your R1.09 to H12FA105.ROM and replace this file with the rename R1.09. Copy everything in the BIOS folder to the floppy.

    Insert the floppy into the USB drive. Connect the USB drive to the laptop. Boot the laptop and press F11. This give you a list of devices to boot from. Note that if you can’t see the USB drive, turn off the machine and try again. If it still does not work, go into the BIOS and make sure the USB legacy option is set to true or auto.

    Select the option to boot from floppy. It should boot into a command line prompt.

    Enter the command FBIOS.BAT and follow the instruction on screen. Do not interrupt the process at this point or your laptop is toast.

Alternate Method

You can create a Boot CD with the BIOS files and boot from the CD. Creating such a disk is tricky, though admlam in the thread has done it.

You can also create a boot usb key. I have not tried this at all, but it should work.

Post BIOS flashing

After the BIOS has flashed properly and rebooted, you’ll get notice that screen now say “Everex”. Ignore this in the same way Averatec told you to ignore your own problems and press DEL. This takes you to the BIOS setup screen. Before the flash, the key to enter the BIOS was F12. It has now change to DEL from now on.

In the BIOS screen, select “Restore Optmized Default”. This clears out any outdated settings from the old BIOS, so you don’t get checksum errors.

Now the machine should work exactly as it did before, but now Vista actually works. Unfortunately, I still can’t get Linux to work perfectly enough (at least not with sleep and suspend working), so I have to stay with Vista or XP for now.

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Entry filed under: Laptop, Vista.

Why can’t I unzip files in Vista? Ubuntu 7.04 on Averatec 2370 – a failure for now

11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jim in Chicago  |  October 30, 2007 at 11:38 pm

    While I can’t speak to the modem or suspend to RAM, I can say that Kubuntu 7.10×64 installs easily, runs the processors at full speed, and picks up the wireless out of the box on this laptop.

    Reply
  • 2. paulsiu  |  October 31, 2007 at 3:00 pm

    I did try Kubuntu 7.10 i386 version. Interestingly, the wireless worked but did not have WPA-PSK. Suspend to RAM definitely did not work because proprietary drivers were not installed.

    Reply
  • 3. jade  |  July 5, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    my function keys – hot keys- are not working – help AVERATEC 3700- Thankx

    Reply
  • 4. Jenie-Marie  |  November 25, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    take Averatec 2370, place in drive-way. Run over with car or truck. Drive to nearest store and buy new HP or anything else. I have been through all this with Averatec and got a BIG runaround. Daughters want new laptops for Xmas you can bet they will not be Averatecs head akes Jeanie-Marie

    Reply
  • 5. Rich B  |  December 4, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    Hey, the great folk at Averatec have either been bought out and have changed their site and now the BIOS is not available. Would you happen to still have a copy of the R.104 file you can email or post. I had the same situation last spring, but I guess I was mean enought to force them to send me a restore disk to get me back to XP, but I thought I would give it a try again since SP1 to see what happens when I read your post. Thanks for any help you can provide.

    Reply
    • 6. paulsiu  |  December 6, 2008 at 1:50 am

      I have to dig a bit to see what I can find. Are you trying to run vista?

      Reply
  • 7. Tom Anderton  |  January 13, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    Hi there, I’m running into a different problem in which my laptop sometimes will not boot up (the lights are on, but it just doesn’t start) – I’ve read in several places that people have flashed the BIOS with the everex one, but I thought if anything I’d give R1.04 a try first (I read somewhere that it is better than R1.05). I’m running XP Media Center – so I’m not worried about Vista. Do you have a copy of R1.04 and even R1.05 for that matter? If you could, could you please email them to me?

    Thanks – and great article!

    Reply
  • 8. Tom Anderton  |  January 13, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    Crap, I typed in the wrong email address – it’s:

    billymadison51@gmail.com

    Reply
  • 9. William Cumana  |  April 12, 2009 at 1:12 am

    Good morning, I think that you don’t have any problem, you surely installed some driver or utility that it adjusts the speed of the processor automatically. Download from http://www.amd.com.cn/CHCN/Processors/TechnicalResources/0, ,30_182_871_13118,00 .html the POWER MONITOR SOFTWARE and verifies the speed of the processor during carrie out several tasks

    Reply
    • 10. paulsiu  |  April 13, 2009 at 3:22 pm

      it is most definitely a problem. Basically, the acpi on the Averatec 2370 is broken. There is no patch or driver to fix the acpi problem. There is a Bios fix, but it is not available from Averatec.

      Reply
  • 11. Ira Teinowitz  |  October 12, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Windows 7 may not be installable without upgrading to the 1.09 patch. (I doubt i will upgrade anyway, but without the patch, the machine is read as 800mz and the minimum for Win 7 is 1.0 mz.)

    I just installed the 1.09 bios (from now, no longer existing, Everex) and it works fine with one slight difference. Under Averatec, to go into bios when you boot, you hit F2.
    .
    Under Everex (which my machine now says it is, you enter bios by hitting Delete. F2 no longer works.

    Otherwise the machine runs perfectly

    Reply

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