Fast and Easy Laptop Diagnostics


This menu item lets the tester create and store his or her own burn-in test scripts of any length and complexity. You simply select the desired diagnostic/benchmark functions and enter the repetition frequency or duration for each separate function. The results can either be printed or saved in a file for subsequent checks. However, this function requires that the laptop has a floppy drive, in order for the scripts and results to be saved. Because many newer notebooks no longer feature a parallel port, it would also be nice if the results could be sent to a printer via USB..


Here you'll find the manufacturer's address as well as the addresses for technical support, as well as a brief description of how to operate the program interface. But disappointment awaits anyone hoping to stumble upon a kind of short reference or glossary here explaining the individual diagnostics. Such descriptions are to be found only in the 76-page - and thus minutely detailed - documentation that the P.H.D. Resource CD offers.

But not even the hefty manual contains a brief reference explaining the error messages at a glance. Thus the user's only recourse is to call on a member of the support team in the event they get a "failed" message during the 64-bit transfer test of the PCI test routine, for example.

Update Of The Measurement Series Tests And The BIOS

Recognizing that a diagnostics card can only ever be as good and as up-to-date as the diagnostics and the BIOS card, Ultra-X offers an optional upgrade/update of the series tests and BIOS.

Because the routines and the BIOS are stored in the ROM, the P.H.D MiniPCI has to be sent to the manufacturer for an update.

There the diagnostic card is subjected to an on-the-spot functional check. Then the card's ROM is flashed and subsequently undergoes a 12-hour endurance test. If everything works flawlessly, the card is returned to its owner - along with a bill to the tune of around $100/€100.


On paper, the device could serve the needs of any organization that could benefit from a more efficient way to diagnose laptop hardware glitches. In these times of diminishing margins and constantly rising cost pressures, notebook manufacture service departments, for example, must make optimal use of working time. The first professional hardware diagnostic card, the P.H.D MiniPCI from Ultra-X, is a solid first effort towards achieving this critical goal.

As we experienced firsthand in our tests, this card makes troubleshooting hardware failures and defects on portable devices easier than ever: just plug it into a free mini PCI slot, turn on your notebook and sit back and let it do its job. Since the card functions as a boot device, you don't even need a hard drive with an operating system. The card also performs well as a burn-in and memory stress tester.

That said, we regret to have to report that the card revealed a weak points as well: for one thing, it doesn't consistently identify all hardware components correctly; for another, the audio loopback test did not perform as specified. The maker says these bugs will soon be fixed with a forthcoming software update.

At a net price of $1200/€925, this diagnostic system is certainly not affordable for the private user. But in the business environment, the ROI is sure to be speedy. At the end of the day time is money, after all, and service that's fast and above all efficient is a decisive factor in customer satisfaction.