Little T in the Cog windows

Archive for July 2018

Upgrading the Razer Blade Stealth to Windows Precision Drivers


I have a late 2016 Razer Blade Stealth (basically a "normal" 2016 model updated with an i7 7500U) and it comes with a Synaptics trackpad. I always thought the touchpad wasn't too bad - not quite up to the standards I expect from a Mac but it did the job and had multiple gesture support etc. Then a week ago I bought my wife a Microsoft Surface Laptop, and while setting it up I realised just how "bad" my trackpad on my Stealth really felt. The Surface Laptop has an excellent trackpad - easily as good as anything coming out of Cupertino - and I wanted the same easy gliding feel on my one-and-a-half year old Stealth.

A quick Google showed up a lot of people saying to switch over to the Windows Precision Drivers - basically the Microsoft tweaked drivers set up for Windows 10 - so armed with a USB mouse to use when it all went South I started down a path I can honestly say I haven't done in about a decade; wrangling Windows device drivers!

Follow this article over at Windows Central through to the end, but don't follow the step to "Search automatically for updated driver software", instead download the updated drivers provided by Razer from here and run that. One more reboot later and you'll be set! You can open up the Settings app and check under Trackpad, you should see "Your PC has a precision touchpad". While here you can also tweak any gestures etc you want to use.

I can honestly say it feels like a new laptop now, no exaggeration. The Precision drivers are so much nicer it makes me wonder why it didn't ship with them from the start - things scroll so much smoother now, it really is a joy to use. I have no idea if this works on later Razer Blade Stealth laptops (or if it's even still needed - do the new ones come with the driver already installed?) but if you're not running the Precision drivers you really are missing out imho.

Why Windows?


When I originally bought my Razer Blade Stealth laptop I actually went straight ahead and installed Linux on it (first Ubuntu, then later I settled on Fedora*). I didn't boot into Windows in 8 months, and had partitioned the SSD to give Linux more space.

But then I bought a Razer Core, and suddenly I was booting into Windows again to game. And then I got sick of booting between Windows and Linux when I just needed to quickly SSH into a server to make a quick tweak, so looked into the classic solutions to that (PuTTY, Cygwin etc) and discovered the Windows Subsystem for Linux. This was the missing piece of my Windows puzzle - with the subsystem installed I could then "install" Ubuntu from the Windows Store. Suddenly, I had a native Bash shell within Windows - and all the tools that came with that. I could apt-get install anything I needed, and set up my userland just as I liked it (ssh .config files, git etc etc). No more dual booting needed! Over time, instead of never booting into Windows I realised I was no longer booting into Linux, so I've ended up giving Windows the entire 512GB SSD (all those games do take up a lot of space!).

Having a native Bash shell really has made a world of difference to me and my workflow, to the point I actually really like using the Stealth with Windows to get work done. I've got all I need - my Linux userland, a good selection of both open source and commercial software and ~9 hours battery life in a compact system. And when I get home, I can plug it into my Razer Core (with an AMD Radeon RX 580 installed) and game away to my hearts content!

I can't believe I'm saying it... But here we are in 2018, and I <3 Windows!

*It was actually not a bad laptop to run Linux on - pretty much everything worked out of the box (suspend/resume, wireless etc). I don't know why I'm so surprised at this in 2018, but I still remember the days of compiling kernel modules to try and get things working properly...

New Section - Windows!


Now I've been using a Razer Blade Stealth laptop for a few years I thought I should probably start a Windows section of this blog! It only seemed fair considering I've had a Linux and Apple section here for years. As is super obvious I don't update this blog anywhere near as often as I should, but hopefully this section will fill out with tips and tricks as I pick them up.

There was a time I could never imagine writing these words... But Windows is actually fun!