Category Archives: Insider stuff

P360 Ultra Is Beautiful Inside

Holy mackerel! I just popped open the Lenovo P360 Ultra to check out its interior. I’m completely blown away. Starting with a protracted period for Tom’s Hardware in the early 2000s, I built and reviewed several dozen PCs for them. Over the years, I’ve laid hands on the insides of dozens of other PCs, and as many laptops. When I say the P360 Ultra is beautiful inside, I mean it. I’ve never seen a PC — full-sized or SFF — as well engineered for easy interior access as this one.

What P360 Ultra Is Beautiful Inside Means

The only tool I had to use when accessing anything inside the P360 Ultra was a pair of needle-nosed pliers. But a pen would have done just as well. To mount a second NVMe SSD, I had to pop a retaining clip. It required modest, well-directed force, but was easy to do.

The unit opens easily with a single lever release on the back. That release is boxed in red in the lead-in graphic for this story. Pull it down, and use it to pull the interior free of the case. That’s it.

Inside the case, customers have easy and immediate access to two of its four SODIMM memory slots. Getting to the SSD cooler is equally easy. There’s a nice YouTube video that takes a visual tour of the whole interior. Better still, Lenovo has a whole series of maintenance videos that show all the important stuff, item by item.

Where Did I Just Go Inside the P360?

I checked out all the stops along the way. Indeed, it would be dead easy to add two more memory modules to the current configuration (which has a single 32GB SODIMM). I popped up the cooler from the SSD area with a single catch release. I watched the Lenovo video to learn how to release the retaining pin from the second, open SSD slot. Then I inserted the WD Black SN850 I bought last week, returning the retaining pin into its closed position and buttoned the case back up.

The cooler that covers the side-by-side SSD slots comes loose with a single catch (fingertip barely showing at mid right). Pop the clip, drop in the drive, and repeat in reverse. Took me about 30 seconds, all told.

I’m happy to report that new drive came up instantly on the next reboot. The BIOS obligingly beeped to let me know something had changed, but the whole process was dead easy. Tomorrow, I’ll write about the amazing results from using the WD Black drive internally.

A Usability Triumph

As I said earlier, I’ve stuck my hands in a lot of PCs and laptops. That includes numerous SFF PCs, of which I’ve built several for use here at Chez  Tittel. My wife uses a Dell 7080 Micro as her daily beater, in fact. I’ve NEVER seen a PC as well engineered for access and upgrade as this one. It’s amazing. Watch the aforelinked videos; you’ll see exactly what I mean. Astounding!!

My hat’s off to the P360 engineering team. While they marvel at my bald, gleaming head, I’m still marveling at their great work.




Advanced IP Scanner Worth Using

For years now, I’ve been a huge fan of Nir Sofer’s software tools. Along the way, I’ve often used his NetBIOS Scanner (NetBScanner). It shows me which IP addresses Windows PCs occupy. Two weeks ago, I noticed PatchMyPC supports a tool named Advanced IP Scanner. I’ve now tried it out. I can say I totally find Advanced IP Scanner worth using. It appears as this story’s lead graphic, in fact.

Advanced IP Scanner Worth Using.NetBScanner-output

This NetBScanner output shows only Windows and other devices with NetBIOS names; Advanced IP Scanner (top) shows EVERYTHING IP.

If Advanced IP Scanner Worth Using, What About NetBScanner?

Once I started using the former, I immediately saw the limitations of the latter. Simply put, NetBScanner shows only 8 entries; Advanced IP scanner shows 18. It even includes devices that lack NetBIOS names but participate in the LAN (e.g. my ASUS WAP, my thermostats, and my TV). Better still, it shows the IP addresses that some of my PCs (laptops, mostly) use for Wi-Fi and GbE, along with which one is live at present and which one is unused (e.g. X380).

There’s more: as I was troubleshooting my PING and RDP issues earlier this week, I learned to make use of the right-click tools it offers for devices whose IP addresses it shows. You can access its maker’s own Radmin utility to jump directly into its version of remote administration of anything showing.

To me, though, the right-click Tools menu is both interesting and helpful. Shown above this paragraph, it lets you run a variety of commands in a cmd.exe window against the highlighted item. I used it to run PING tests point-to-point on my LAN and eventually got everything working. It also turns out to be a handy way to launch RDP as well.

Remember: Cools Tools Rule

I’ve come to like this free, informative and easy-to-use utility enough to add it to my top tier Windows tools collection. I call these “Cool Tools.” For me, they are essential items in my administration and troubleshooting toolbox. If you try Advanced IP Scanner out, I predict you’ll want to add it to your lineup, too.


WD Black SN850 SSD Heatshield Bites Me

It’s sometimes said: “It’s the little things that get you.” Boy, was that true for my latest SSD purchase. Alas, as shown in the lead-in photo, I accidentally ordered a version with heatshield. It’s pretty impressive. Formed of solid aluminum, it’s least 5mm tall. It upped the cost by US$30, too. Even so, the WD Black SN850 SSD heatshield bites me — or my deployment plans — right in the hindquarters.

How WD Black SN850 SSD Heatshield Bites Me

Why is this a problem? Well, I’d planned on emplacing the SSD in an NVMe enclosure. Such enclosures, however, only accommodate circuit boards, not massive (and thick) heatshields.

WD Black SN850 SSD Heatshield Bites Me.barebones

What I needed, in fact, was the barebones version (image above). Costs US$99.50, and fits an NVMe enclosure just fine. I guess that’s what I get for giving into techno-lust. Amazon’s one-click ordering gave no time for thought. Sigh. I blame the government…

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Heatshield…

A little poking around online showed me that I was not the only buyer so surprised. Another party confirmed the heatshield would come off (but only destructively). Caution was my watchword.

Armed with a pair of needle-nose pliers, I carefully bent the heatshield away from the PCB. Next stop: Disk Management, for new drive setup. Worked! Happily, here are the results in File Explorer from my cheapo new NVMe enclosure.

Live and learn, I hope. Going forward, I’ll read my product details more carefully. Gosh, perhaps I can avoid the same mistake in future. We’ll see!


Advanced Sharing All Fixes PING

Apocryphally, PING stands for “Packet InterNet Groper” (or perhaps, “Packet Inter-Network Groper”). Actually, I think it comes from submarine-speak. There, a PING denotes the return sound that sonar makes when reflected. I’ve been troubleshooting a persistent RDP issue with the Lenovo P360 Ultra SFF PC. En route, I just fixed an inability to PING that node. Changing Advanced Sharing All fixes PING, as far as I can tell. Deets follow…along with an RDP fix.

Why Say: Advanced Sharing All Fixes PING?

First off, I relaxed all entries under the “All Networks” heading in Advanced sharing settings (Control Panel). Then, PING started working on the P360 Ultra. Easy-peasey, but not terribly safe.

Interestingly, I then went back and changed the settings to their defaults. That’s “the other option” in all thee cases shown. PING kept working, but the sharing was tightened back up.

Comparing P16 and P360 Ultra

What’s even more interesting is that the other “new machine” here does RDP and PING just fine. That’s the latest Lenovo Loaner here at Chez Tittel: the P16 Mobile Workstation. I’ve had no issues with networking and RDP on that other machine. But I was still unable to remote into the P360 Ultra.

I switched to the Remote Desktop app, and got a more informative error code: 0x4. In researching possible fixes, I found a reghack under that heading at TechDirectArchive. Since I’d already tried everything else recommended in that story, I tried that too.

Here’s the Remote Desktop app with the P360 Ultra under its wired IP address: Problem solved!

It had me create a new Regkey named MaxOutstandingConnections in HKLM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server. As suggested, I set its value to 0x10000. And guess what? Both the Remote Desktop Connection application (mstsc.exe) and the Remote Desktop app (show above) now work!

Go figure. All I can say is “What a relief!” It’s been driving me bananas…



Docking Discrete GPU Laptops Trick

Inquiring minds want to understand how to get the best graphics performance when using a multi-purpose, high-bandwidth connection. Yes, I’m talking about a Thunderbolt 4 dock (like the CalDigit TS4 or the Belkin Pro Thunderbolt 4). Turns out there’s BIOS tweak involved: it’s my “docking discrete GPU laptops trick.”

OK, What Is the Docking Discrete GPU Laptops Trick?

By default, most dual-GPU laptops run in dual or hybrid graphics mode. That is, they use the built-in GPU unless a specific application requires or prioritizes the discrete GPU. When running on battery, in fact, they only use the built-in GPU unless forced to use the discrete GPU instead, to extend runtime.

My trick comes in at the BIOS level. Thus, for example, the Lenovo P16 Mobile Workstation, has a BIOS setting under Config →  Graphics Device. It takes possible values of Hybrid Graphics (the default) or Discrete Graphics (the alternate). If you switch from the default to the alternate, the laptop always uses the discrete GPU to drive display outputs.

When using a dock, one is perforce plugged in for power (either separately, or through the dock itself, which has its own heavy-duty external power supply/brick). That means it’s safe to use the more power-hungry (but also, more capable) discrete GPU to drive two or more displays.

For Thunderbolt 4, docks are limited to a single 8K display or dual 4K displays (usually via DisplayPort, aka DP, and/or USB-C). So far, I have found this connection to work indistinguishably from my production desktop. It’s got an Nvidia RTX 3070 Ti with dual DP Dell UltraSharp 2717 2K monitors attached. The docks drive the same outputs equally well.

Uh-Oh: Must I Raise My Display Ante?

Right now, I can’t really drive the graphics end of things to the level where it would stress Thunderbolt 4. I’m wondering if that means I need to buy up, and replace my 2017 vintage monitors with something like the Dell UltraSharp U2723QE. At US$600 and up, two of those would sting the bank account a bit (its stunning display serves as the lead-in graphic for this story). But it may be time for a display refresh here at Chez Tittel, so to speak.

Let me check with “The Boss” (wife, Dina) and get back to you on that…


Flash Drive Goes Incredibly Slowly

Here’ s an interesting item. Last week, when trying to troubleshoot the graphics driver on the Lenovo P360 Ultra SFF PC, I ran into an interesting follow-on issue. I decided to copy the “old driver” file to a flash drive to take it upstairs where the unit lives (networking issues temporarily kept me from using RDP, as is my more typical practice). And gosh, I couldn’t help but notice my Mushkin Atom flash drive goes incredibly slowly when copying that 649K file.  The deets, courtesy of File Explorer, provide the lead-in graphic for this story.

If Flash Drive Goes Incredibly Slowly, Then What?

Just for grins, I plugged in an older USB3 mSATA device and copied the target file again. Despite its antique vintage (2014 or thereabouts) it beat the snot out of the flash drive. As you can see in the next screencap, it achieved a data rate of 236 MB/sec. That’s a whale of a lot faster than the paltry 12.5 MB/sec shown in the lead-in graphic.

Flash Drive Goes Incredibly Slowly.copy-speed

The SSD-based USB device is more than 18 times faster than the flash-based device. Wow!

What does this say? It says that older mSATA SSDs are worth keeping as a much speedier alternative to flash drives. Back when I bought the Sabrent enclosures in which my 3 mSATA drives are housed — I have one each 256, 512 and 1,024 MB devices — I paid US$60 or thereabouts to buy them. Now, you can pick them up at Amazon for US$14.

Flash Drive Goes Incredibly Slowly.msata-device

For US$14, you can move files around a whole lot faster!

To me, that’s money incredibly well spent, given the half-dozen or so mSATA drives I still have kicking around here. If you’ve got one or more sitting idle, this would be a smart buy for you, too.

Note Added 2 Hrs Later: Cheaper Than Flash!

You can buy a 256GB mSATA SSD for under US$30 right now. That makes the total price around US$45 for enclosure and drive. That’s about 3X what you’ll pay for a 128 GB flash drive, and less than some “faster” 256 GB flash drives cost. To me, this argues even more strongly that this is a good way to boost your USB storage arsenal without breaking the bank.


Windows Upgrades Bring New Drivers

Whenever one upgrades a Windows installation, the installer locates and installs a new slate of drivers by default. There are ways to overcome this by customizing the Windows install image (with DISM, for example). But I was forcibly reminded that Windows Upgrades bring new drivers. It happened two days ago when the Installation Assistant took the P360 Ultra to Windows 11 22H2.

Fortunately, I knew how to fix this. Because the latest Nvidia driver is the culprit, I simply switched to Intel UHD graphics. This took me from a black screen to working graphics output. I’ll roll back the affected driver this weekend. That will put things back to rights.

Showing Windows Upgrades Bring New Drivers

I had to roll back the Nvidia driver on the P360 Ultra to get the RTX A2000 GPU to work. That’s because there is a known issue with all drivers newer than, as I learned from Lenovo’s engineering folks last week (see this Sept 16 item for details).

I’m a big fan of the GitHub DriverStore Explorer project (aka RAPR.exe). As you can see from the following screen snippet, there’s an older INF file on the U360 Ultra for my proper target version ( But alas, DevMgr won’t roll back to that version (I think it’s because the older version is a Quadro/Studio driver, while the new, in-place version is a Game-ready driver).

Windows Upgrades Bring New Drivers.RAPR

RAPR confirms that the new version is installed, and shows the old version, too. [Click image, then zoom to 200%.]

Luckily I still have the Lenovo update package that they provided. As its Properties window shows, file m3vdo008d.exe is exactly what I need. I know from recent experience – the first time I fixed this gotcha – that I can simply install this exe file, and it will replace the buggy new driver with the stable, working older driver. Sometimes, one has to run the Driver Display Uninstall (DDU) tool to completely remove all traces of the new, before installing the old. That’s NOT the case here, I’m happy to say.

Windows Upgrades Bring New Drivers.LenovoPkg

If I install this older driver, I can then use the Nvidia GPU without problems.

How Driver Trouble Happens During Upgrade

If a particular PC needs an older (or non-current) driver, Windows isn’t smart enough to steer around such potholes. As soon as I upgraded this PC, I knew I was going to have to fix the automatic update it would make to the latest (and incorrect) Nvidia driver. Sometimes, that’s the kind of thing you need to watch out for when upgrading Windows. Consider yourself notified, if not warned!


Thunderbolt Software Upgrade Strategy

At first I thought “Catch-22.” Those using PCs old enough to run Intel’s Thunderbolt Software have reason to ponder Heller’s famous catch. An updated replacement — namely, Thunderbolt Control Center — is available from the Microsoft Store. But if you run Thunderbolt Software, it doesn’t show up there. Nor is there an easy upgrade path. That’s why, in fact, I had to come with a Thunderbolt Software upgrade strategy.

Finding a Thunderbolt Software Upgrade Strategy

All I can say is “I got lucky.” I chose as my search string to dig into this topic “Thunderbolt Software vs. Thunderbolt Control Center.” It immediately struck gold in a Forum post from Mac/PC oriented website There, those same terms appeared in inverted order.

There’s a trick involved in making this upgrade. It works as follows: if one downloads newer DCH drivers for the Thunderbolt device in DevMgr → System Devices, updating that driver causes Windows 11 (or 10, for that matter) to update the related software automatically. It’s actually pretty easy. I’m going to upgrade my remaining holdover system (one of my Lenovo X380 Yogas, acquired in late 2018) and take you through the steps involved.

NOTE:For a Thunderbolt device to show up in DevMgr, you may need to plug in an actual Thunderbolt or USB4 device. That’s what I had to do on each of my three 2018 vintage systems that needed this upgrade.

Making the Transition, Step-by-Step

Step 1: Visit this Intel Download page and download the ZIP file available there. Don’t be put off by the NUC notation: I’ve run in on a Yoga 380 and an X1 Extreme, and it worked on both systems. It seems to work on any Intel Thunderbolt controller.

Step 2: Unzip the file into a target directory. I named mine TBdev to make it easy to identify.

Thunderbolt Software Upgrade Strategy.unzipped

Contents of the ZIP file in the V:\TBdev folder. The INF folder is where the action will be.

Step 3: Open DevMgr, navigate to the Thunderbolt controller, right-click, and pick “Update driver.” In the resulting pop-up window, pick “Browse my computer for drivers “(lower item). Browse to your TBdev\INF folder, as shown here, then click “Next.”

Click “Next” and the driver should update itself from the various files in the INF folder.

If this process succeeds, you’ll see something like the following Window appear.

Guess what? If this worked, you’re finished. Windows will now visit the MS Store on its own and install the Thunderbolt Control Center app for you. Until you next reboot your PC, you’ll see both the old software and the new side-by-side if you type “Thu” into the Windows 11 (or 10) search box:

Old (Thunderbolt software) on the left, new (Thunderbolt Control Center) on the right. Only TCC will work, tho…

After the next reboot, Thunderbolt Software no longer appears. Case closed!


P16 Safeguard Hold Blocks Windows11 22H2

When the news hit yesterday that the gradual rollout for Windows 11 22H2 was underway, I had a feeling… I’m someone who’s perpetually or chronically excluded from the first round of many new Windows releases or features. And so it was for my brand spanking new Lenovo P16 Gen1 Mobile Workstation. Because a P16 Safeguard Hold blocks Windows11 22H2, it gets the “coming soon” message shown in the lead-in graphic. Sigh: here I go again.

If P16 Safeguard Hold Blocks Windows11 22H2, Then What?

Wait for MS to lift the hold, and check the other machines. My two- week-old Lenovo P360 Ultra didn’t even get the “coming soon” message. Those are both 12th Gen i9 CPU based machines. Right now, I’m checking my Lenovo Yoga 7i (11th Gen i7) and X1 Carbon (8th Gen i7) PCs. So far, neither has gotten the offer either. That still leaves the Ryzen 5800X build upstairs to check, but I think I know what I’ll find…

That said, the MS Download Windows 11 page is already offering ISOs for 22H2. I can force the upgrade if WU isn’t offering and it’s not on Safeguard Hold status. That describes 4 of my 5 PCs running Windows 11 21H2 right now. I’ll have to think about what I want to do with them, item-by-item.

P16 Safeguard Hold Blocks Windows11 22H2.dl22h2

For those who want to push the boundaries, MS also makes 22H2 ISOs available for download. [Click image for full-sized view.]

What’s Next, at Chez Tittel?

Right now, I’m standing pat. I’ve got a couple of other projects underway. I want to make progress on those, and then I’ll start thinking about which PCs to advance to 22H2, and which to leave alone. Given that the P16 is on Safeguard Hold, I’ll wait on that one. But as a straight-up test machine, I’ll probably push the P360 Ultra forward first. The others will vary (I use the X1 Carbon as a road PC, so I’m not inclined to push that one forward ahead of its time).

Stay tuned! I’ll keep you posted as things develop. It’s all fun, all the time, here in Windows World.

Note Added 1 Hour Later

I just force-upgraded the Lenovo Yoga 7i to 22H2 (11th gen i5-1135G7, 12GB RAM, 500 GB Samsung OEM NVMe SSD). Despite downloading via Wi-Fi, the whole process using the Windows 11 Update Assistant took under 18 minutes to complete. I see no errors in DevMgr either. So far, so good…

Note Added End of Day (?5? hours later)

I have now also force-upgraded the P360 Ultra and the Ryzen 5800X builds. Because the Nvidia driver was auto-updated during the upgrade (and I already know that’s a non-starter) I had to switch over to the built-in Intel UHD 770. I’ll have to roll back the Nvidia driver again to get the discrete GPU working. Again, I used the Upgrade Assistant.

For the 5800X I downloaded an ISO file, mounted it, then ran setup.exe from the root of that virtual drive. Took a bit longer to download, but was also a pretty quick install. So that’s 3 PCs upgraded today without too much drama or drivel.


Thinking About Windows 10/11 SSDs

I’m still busy benchmarking away on the two Thunderbolt4/USB4 PCs that Lenovo has recently sent my way. But as I’ve been doing so, I’ve been thinking about Windows 10/11 SSDs in general. On that path, I’ve realized certain principles that I’d like to share with you, dear readers.

I’m spurred in part to these statements from a sponsored (and pretty contrived) story from MSPowerUser entitled “Is NVMe a Good Choice for Gamers?” My instant response, without reading the story — which actually focuses on storage media beyond the boot/system drive — was “Yes, as much as you can afford.” Spoiler alert: that’s what the story says, too.

Where Thinking About Windows 10/11 SSDs Leads….

Here are some storage media principles that flow from making the most of a new PC investment.

  1. The more you spend on a PC, the more worthwhile it is to also spend more on NVMe storage.
  2. Right now, PCIe Gen4 drives run about 2X the speed of PCIe Gen3 drives. They don’t cost quite twice as much. Simple economics says: buy the fastest NVMe technology your PC will support.
  3. Buy as much NVMe storage as you can afford (or force yourself to spend). For pre-built PCs and laptops, you may want to buy NVMe on the aftermarket, rather than get the drives pre-installed. Markup on NVMe drives can be painful. Hint: I use Tom’s Hardware to keep up with price/performance info on NVMe SSDs and other PC components (it’s also the source for the lead-in graphic for this story, which still prominently displays the now-passe Intel Optane as an SSD option. Caveat emptor!).
  4. Corollary to the preceding point: fill every M.2 slot you can in your build. For both my recent Lenovo loaners — the P360 Ultra and the P16 Mobile Workstation — that means populating both slots with up to 4TB each. Right now, the Kingston KC3000 looks like a 4TB best buy of sorts.

Thinking Further (and Outside the Box)

More thoughts in this vein, with an eye toward external drives and multi-tiered storage (archives and extra backups):

  1. If you’re going to put an NVMe SSD in an external enclosure, you will be OK for the time being in a USB 3.2 rather than a USB 4 enclosure. Right now, the newer enclosures cost more than twice as much but don’t deliver anywhere near 2x the speed (except on synthetic benchmarks — I used C: imaging times as a more reliable indicator). Over time this will no doubt change, and I’ll keep an eye on that, too.
  2. I don’t consider spinners (conventional mechanical hard disk drives, or HDDs) any more, except for archival and inactive storage. If I need something for work or play, it goes on an SSD. If I might need something, someday (or to restore same) then it’s ok on an HDD.

I used to restrain spending on NVMe SSDs because of its high price differential. I’m now inclined to believe that restraint is a false economy and forces less productivity as a result. That’s why I’m rethinking my philosophy. I haven’t quite yet gotten to Les Blanc’s famous dictum (“Spend It All”) but I am coming around to “Spend As Much as You Can”…

Remember This Fundamental Assumption, Tho…

My reasoning aims at high-end PCs where users run data-, graphics-, and/or compute-intensive workloads. It does not apply, therefore, to home, hobbyist, and low-end office users. For them typical productivity apps  (e.g. MS Office or equivalent), email, web browsing and so forth predominate. They wouldn’t need, nor benefit much from, buying lots of fast NVMe storage. That said, a 1 TB fast-as-possible NVMe for the boot/system drive is the baseline. Other storage options will balance themselves against budget to dictate other choices and PC builds for such users.

In different terms, if you’re not maxing out your PC running data analytics, 3D models and other high-end graphics rendering, or AI or machine learning stuff, this advice is most likely overkill. Too, too costly. But for this user community, more spent on NVMe (and GPUs and memory as well) will repay itself with increased productivity. ‘Nuff said.