Fast and Easy Laptop Diagnostics

Diagnostics, Continued

The P.H.D. MiniPCI can also display test pictures for a thorough test of the notebook's graphics subsystem.

The P.H.D. MiniPCI also displays test pictures in all resolutions and color depths supported by the notebook's graphics chip.

That enables easy testing of things like color rendering, contrast and brightness. Plus, the test routines let you hone in quickly on pixel errors.

A CD and a DVD are included in the package for checking optical drives. The CD-DVD drive test integrated in the software of the P.H.D. MiniPCI measures the read speed and average access time, among other values.

The CD/DVD tester runs a complete drive check and measures the read speed.

Two modes are available for testing the hard drive. The "quick test" merely runs a mechanical check and records various access times such as average seek and track-to-track seek, while the complete test includes a comprehensive physical interface test.

A hard-drive tester is also included.

In our case a complete test of a 20 GB hard drive at 4200 rpm took around 20 minutes. Since the software boots directly from the diagnostic card and the test in question is an LBA test, it doesn't matter where on the board the data are located or over how many partitions they are spread.

As is the case with the "Configuration" menu, some diagnostic functions - granted just a few - can only be run in conjunction with "QuickTech Pro" software, which is not included with the P.H.D. MiniPCI.

Some tests are not possible with the card, such as a mouse scan.

We've marked the relevant options red in the menu overview. Nearly all of the tests run in endless-loop mode, making extended tests possible. They in turn allow for faster recognition of typical sources of errors, such as cold solder joints or loose connectors.