Reviving My 6 Year Old Budget Laptop: Can It Do 4K Video Editing?!

6 years ago I invested in a £700 ‘budget’ laptop. I wanted to use it for video editing but all the ‘ready made’ laptop options with 16 GB of RAM were really expensive.

So I purchased a customized laptop from PCSpecialist. While they did a decent job building it, they use Clevo for the laptop base – and it turns out that Clevo and Windows 10 seemed to hate each other!

So I ended up barely using this laptop – which was a pity because it has some good promise on paper. As a result I recently spent a few hours reinstalling the OS on it, and seeing whether I could do video editing (in Premiere Pro) and some light gaming (with Rocket League) after all.

As I show in this video, the results were actually fairly good (thankfully):

If you prefer text over video, please read on for the guide/transcript version of this video.

Video Transcript And Guide

Hey everyone, we’ve all got a dirty secret tucked away somewhere in a cupboard, right? Well THIS is my dirty secret. It’s… a laptop. Anti-climatic, I know. Basically I purchased this 6 years ago:

My PCSpecialist laptop order from 6 years ago
My PCSpecialist laptop order from 6 years ago

I wanted 16 gigs of RAM without spending a fortune, so I purchased a custom build from PCSpecialist and on paper it has a lot of promise – it has a decent 8th gen Intel CPU, an NVMe SSD with 2 gigabit read speeds AND it has various ports including USB3, headphone and mic jacks, USB-C, display inputs, an Ethernet port and an SD card reader.

The laptop with various ports
The laptop with various ports

That ain’t bad for a fairly budget laptop. I intended to use this machine for video editing and while PCSpecialist did a good enough building it, the end result left me very disappointed.

Clevo Issues

PCSpecialist actually use Clevo, a Taiwanese OEM laptop manufacturer who provides barebone builds to PC builders.  Unfortunately this laptop ended up having loads of weird issues. Windows 10 seemed allergic to it, to be honest. The fans would get REALLY LOUD, even when opening something simple like Notepad. Also Windows 10 would randomly decide that my battery was empty, give me a low battery warning – and then shut down 5 seconds later. Gee thanks, Windows. In the end I dual booted with Ubuntu 20 which had no issues with the battery, and I installed a package which allowed me to manually control fan speeds, which worked well.

Custom fan controller on Ubuntu
Custom fan controller on Ubuntu

HOWEVER I still wanted to do video editing and Linux isn’t really ideal for this (I did try Davinci Resolve but it ran really, really slowly). So I put this in a cupboard and forgot about it. UNTIL NOW. I’m so cool.

Even though this is a fairly budget laptop, can I solve the various Windows issues and make this a video editing machine after all?

Ubuntu 22 Upgrade

Well, the first thing I did was look to get Ubuntu upgraded from the unsupported version 20, to the latest LTS release which is 22.04. While I do plan on mainly using Windows, I always like having quick access to a Linux OS, so keeping the dual boot made sense to me (especially if Windows continued to hate the laptop). Luckily upgrading was a fairly straightforward process, and it’s pretty awesome that you can do this in-place, without needing to download boot media and then messing around with UEFI boot menus. After about 20 minutes or so, the main part of the upgrade was complete and Ubuntu prompted me to clean up all the old, obsolete packages. Then it was all complete, and I could restart – woohoo. Sorry about the dirty screen though. I logged in and confirmed that Ubuntu had been updated to the latest long term stable version, awesome. I then updated Chrome (which was 4 years out of date – whoops) because I’m weird and use Chrome even on an open platform like Linux, sorry.

Windows 11 Not Supported?

With all that done, I turned my attention back to Windows. My general plan was to try and install Windows 11, because I had so. many. issues. previously with Windows 10, that I thought it’d best just to have a clean break with a “different” version. However I needed to check compatibility first, so I held my breath and booted back into Windows 10. I left the laptop plugged in because otherwise Windows would have randomly shut down complaining of an empty battery, and thankfully I was able to check whether this laptop supported Windows 11. It did not. Blast.

Windows 11 not supported due to TPM error
Windows 11 not supported due to TPM error

I Googled the CPU and it WAS listed on Windows 11′ “good list” though, so I decided to enter the BIOS just to check. This is a PROPER old school BIOS. No mouse support. No fancy colours. Just blue, grey and white. Noice. It doesn’t have many configuration options at all, to be honest, but it DOES have secure boot settings AND it mentions TPM. After some back and forth (and getting confused about why it said “None” right after enabling security device support – is that a bad thing?) I decided to boot back into Windows 10 and double check if this had worked. The keyboard stopped working. I could move the mouse, but I couldn’t actually login. Nothing worked. Nada. I couldn’t make the login form appear. As I said, Windows 10 is allergic to this machine. Eventually I DID manage to get back in though, and I was able to confirm that this laptop DOES now support Windows 11 – woohoo.

Laptop now supports Windows 11
Laptop now supports Windows 11

So I used this desktop PC to create a Windows 11 install USB, and then booted into this from my laptop to start the reinstall process. When it came to entering the product key, I couldn’t find the key for the old Windows 10 install (and all the command line options kept returning “Not applicable”, weirdly). I did actually pay for a version, so I don’t know why it done that. Anywhoo, luckily I found a random Windows 7 key lying around my NAS, and the Windows 11 installed seemed to accept this.

Installing Windows 11

I went with a custom Windows install because I did NOT want any trace of the previous, cursed Windows 10 install to remain. I actually went gung ho and deleted every partition I could find, OTHER than the 56gig one which is for my Ubuntu dual boot. The installer kept popping up with warnings, but I kept ignoring them – determined to purge Windows 10 completely. I MIGHT have accidentally corrupted the dual boot grub loader but pfft, better safe than sorry.  The Windows 11 install then ran as normal, copying and installing all the files then going through the long winded process of spamming you with hopeful messages like “Getting ready” and “Just a moment” which each seem to last for half an hour.

Windows 11 saying just a moment during the install process
Windows 11 saying just a moment during the install process

Finally it burst into life and I could finish setting up Windows 11, choosing the language and keyboard layout. After entering WiFi details and naming my computer, I had another “Just a moment” loader, and then another spinner… then yet another “Just a moment” loader. Is this all a bad sign? Will Windows 11 be too slow for my laptop? Anywhoo, I then did some final install bits and skipped some spammy offers, and FINALLY it… was getting things ready for me. Apparently this might take a few minutes. I forgot how long winded this process was.

Initial Windows Setup

Anywhoo, after what felt like an AGE I finally had a working Windows 11 install and I did the usual things like kicking off a manual Windows Update check and changing the display scale to my liking (I hate how it defaults to 150% zoom on smaller screens). I then opened Edge with the sole purpose of downloading Chrome (of course), and after carefully reading and ignoring Microsoft’s message, I downloaded Chrome. It was then just a case of installing some of the usual software I use, while monitoring the Windows Updates and restarting my PC when convenient. I always like to have Windows fairly updated, I guess. After a few rounds of restarts, I was pretty much set. Finally.

Windows update almost finished
Windows update almost finished

Initial Thoughts

At this point, Windows 11 already felt snappier and smoother than Windows 10 did – which was a relief. It just seemed to all work a bit better. The fans were also a bit loud but not excessively so – they used to make a racket with Windows 10, for some reason. Also the computer didn’t randomly shutdown with battery warnings, which is nice. So I was cautiously optimistic about everything BUT I had already spotted a few issues including that the touchpad scroll function wasn’t working, and that the WiFi speed was SLOOOW. I have a 500 meg download speed but this laptop was only getting a tenth of that if I was lucky. So, clearly I had some work to do before I could properly use this laptop for video editing.

Laptop Touchpad Issue

Looking at the touchpad issue first, basically you can use two fingers to scroll up and down on a laptop – assuming it works, of course. In my case (or the laptop’s case!), Windows 11 must not have found the drivers for this. Luckily one of Clevo’s websites still listed my laptop’s drivers, so I was able to look them up and download the latest version from 2018. After extracting the files, it wasn’t really clear what file I needed to run. I eventually decided on SetupInf, and this “completed successfully” apparently – but the trackpad still wasn’t working.

Two finger trackpad scroll not working
Two finger trackpad scroll not working

Hmm. Okay, I then tried running the largest .exe file in the folder and it did SOMETHING, so I restarted. Success! I was then able to use the trackpad again. I’m lucky that Clevo still have these drivers listed, because some of the links on Clevo’s site actually give 404 errors. I’ll be sure to back up these touchpad drivers somewhere safe for the future.

Checking Hardware Health

Next up I wanted to do a quick “health check” on the system, so I used a mix of HWMonitor and CrystalDiskMark to check things. HWMonitor showed that temperatures are generally fairly good, with the CPU temps fairly decent. At load the CPU temps might hit 90 degrees celcius which is high but not excessive, especially considering that this is a fairly thin laptop without any fancy cooling system. The battery also isn’t massively depleted which is reassuring.

HWMonitor shows the battery health is fairly good
HWMonitor shows the battery health is fairly good

Turning to CrystalDiskMark, and the disk read and write speeds are fairly fast and pretty much as advertised too which is good to see – nothing is massively wrong here either.

Slow WiFi Speeds

So that was all reassuring, but that meant fixing the next issue – the slow WiFi speeds. I originally noticed this problem because I tried copying some files from my NAS to the laptop, but speeds were 8 or 9 times slower than they were on my desktop PC. I ran a speed test and was only getting 50 Megabits per second, even though I have a 500 meg download speed and the Intel 8265 Wi-Fi card should suport speeds up to 867 megabits per second.

Fairly slow download speeds
Fairly slow download speeds

As a result, I downloaded the latest drivers for the WiFi card and installed them in the usual way. Unfortunately internet speeds continued to be slow after restarting, getting 50 megs on 2.4 gigahertz and 80 megabits or so on 5 gigahertz. This might seem quite fast to some, but I get 500 megs speeds on all my other devices (even my phone) so I still wanted to try and resolve this problem if I could. As a result, I got out my “box of old networking crap” (as my wife calls it) and tried out various WiFi adapters.

Unfortunately I had no luck with these either, with both TP-Link and Edimax WiFi USB adapters getting 20 megabits per second or less – even though they both supported much more than this. Curious. I wanted to check that I wasn’t going mad (or more mad than I already am), so I booted up into Ubuntu and tried it there. It worked quite well, getting 200 megs download speeds with no issue. Hmm.

This IS still technically lower than the Intel WiFi card supports, I guess, but I’m happy enough with over 200 megs on a 6 year old laptop – especially because this over 2.4 gigahertz WiFi. So it’s all a bit weird. I did actually try plugging it in with an Ethernet cable, and this got pretty good speeds, leading me to believe that this problem is some weird conflict between Windows 11 and the Intel card drivers. Unfortunately there’s no obvious solution here, but it’s fast with Ethernet and ALSO within Ubuntu, so that’s ‘kinda good enough for me right now.

Video Editing (Premiere Pro)

At this point I wanted to test out whether there’s ANY hope of video editing on this 6 year old mid-range Intel CPU, and I was pleasantly surprised. I was able to use Premiere Pro fairly smoothly, making changes and applying effects – and then playing back the result without any real delay – which is great. This was 4K footage too, so being able to handle this on the laptop is pretty awesome in my opinion.

Video editing in Premiere Pro on my old laptop
Video editing in Premiere Pro on my old laptop

I do most of my video editing on a 12 core Ryzen and while that’s naturally going to be faster in general, I do get some stutters and freezes – but having an Intel CPU which supports Quick Sync (like in this laptop) actually means that video editing is going to be a smoother experience than an AMD CPU  in general. Anywhoo, I decided to try out a final render (video export) of this project, and it was SLOW – which was expected, because rendering is a VERY CPU heavy task, and this is only a 4 core CPU. After waiting 30 minutes, I was just over half way through – but it then crashed because the display went to sleep. Whoops.

Adobe Premiere Pro error due to laptop display going to sleep
Adobe Premiere Pro error due to laptop display going to sleep

After tweaking the Windows power mode, the export ran well and after an hour and a half, it finally finished. Noice! There was no corruption or issues on the final export, so that’s a pretty promising sign. While my 12 core Ryzen CPU only takes 6 and a half minutes to render this project, it’s worth remembering that this 6 year old budget laptop was never really designed – or expected – to render 4K video files. It WAS still workable though, and it gives me confidence that I could use it as a backup 4K video editing system OR as a primary 1080p video editing PC – which is pretty cool.

Fan Noise Control

Before testing out gaming performance, I wanted to try and tackle the fan noise “issue”. While the fans do seem a bit quieter on Windows 11, they can still get pretty loud at times. Clevo apparently run a fairly aggressive fan curve which ‘kinda makes sense, but it can be a bit over the top at times too. When I looked into this 6 years ago, there was a program called RLECViewer but I remember it not working at all for some reason. Thankfully a new program has come out since then, called Clevo Fan Control. It was easy enough to install: you firstly need to install NTPortDrvSetup, and then you just run the fan control application. This thankfully worked – woohoo – meaning I could finally end the scourge of noisy Clevo fans.

The Clevo Fan Control app
The Clevo Fan Control app

This program has a few config options and setting it to 50% speed is often quieter than the Clevo default, for example. You can also draw your own fan curves, which is pretty nice. I was pretty happy to find this program because 6 years ago I looked at this loads, and checked out a bunch of options, but nothing was working – which is why I originally actually moved to Ubuntu 20. I’m NOW in a much nicer position though: quieter fans, no random Windows shutdowns, a working touchpad and the ability to (sort of) edit 4K video if I wanted.

1080p Gaming Performance

As a result, I decided to push things further and try out gaming. That will CLEARLY work well too, right? Joking aside, I knew that integrated graphics from 6 years ago wasn’t exactly impressive so I didn’t bother installing a recent game. I decided to try out Rocket League though and with the default 1080p settings, I was getting 15 fps – yikes. So I naturally checked out the graphical settings and many were enabled, so I disabled pretty much every optional setting and also disabled anti-aliasing. This then led to a 25 to 30 frame rate, which is actually fairly decent considering that this is 1080p gaming on a budget 6 year old laptop.

Playable FPS on Rocket League on my laptop with integrated graphics
Playable FPS on Rocket League on my laptop with integrated graphics

As you can see, the bottleneck here is the integrated graphics. The “other” part of the CPU is barely being used, and there’s still 40% of unused RAM. This is entirely expected though and I’m fairly happy that it’s SORT OF possible to play 1080p games on this laptop if I needed to.

Final Thoughts

All in all I’m actually really happy to have “revived” this laptop. I literally HAD stuck it in a cupboard and barely used it, because Windows 10 was just SO RUBBISH on it. The random shutdowns, gtches and ultra loud fans made using the laptop painful. While Ubuntu 20 was smoother, I wasn’t really able to video edit on it – which was one of the main reasons for buying this in the first place.

But NOW it’s a whole new machine… I feel like I’m on one of those home renovation TV shows. It seems pretty smooth and it’s ‘kinda surprising to me that Windows 11 runs better on it than Windows 10 (considering that everyone says how Windows 11 is laggy and unperformant). HOWEVER I actually think that Windows 11 cutting support for so many older CPUs and systems is a benefit here, because they could then cut out some of the cruft under the hood and focus on optimizing the operating system for a smaller subset of hardware. It certainly seems to have helped in this case, anyway.

Anywhoo, I’m happy but I’d love to hear your thoughts. Was it worth spending hours of my time reviving a 6 year old system? Have you done something similar yourself? Please let me know down in the comments.

cropped A picture of me Tristan
About Tristan Perry

Tristan has been interested in computer hardware and software since he was 10 years old. He has built loads of computers over the years, along with installing, modifying and writing software (he's a backend software developer 'by trade').

Tristan also has an academic background in technology (in Math and Computer Science), so he enjoys drilling into the deeper aspects of technology.

Tristan is also an avid PC gamer, with FFX and Rocket League being his favorite games.

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