Another Slow Computer Question

Working on a HP Pavilion with an ASUSTek Nodus M3-GL8E motherboard, AMD 64 X2 3800+ 2.0 GHz CPU, 4 GBs of DDR RAM (2x 2gb) and running Windows XP on a WD-20 200 GB drive. Things were working great until about a month ago when the machine slowed to a snails pace. Takes forever to load a program or do any work. Won’t multi-task at all. If copying or downloading a file it starts out fine(around 3MB/s) but slows down dramatically quickly (around 90 Kb/s). Task manager shows little RAM or CPU usage when programs are running. Spikes to around 70% CPU use upon startup but then drops to 1-2% and usually operates around there. No getting any error messages during startup or while running so I’ve tried to figure out why it has slowed so dramatically.

Ran memtest which reported no errors. Ran WD diagnostics on the HDD and found no errors. Ran CCleaner, registry fix and defrag. Still no improvement in performance.

So I upgraded the OS to Win-7 64 bit. Reformatted the HDD during install. Checked the start-up files for anything weird but nothing there. Even after upgrade the computer continues to be extremely slow. Will take 15 min just to boot or start a program such as mail. Thought maybe the CPU was going but I’ve read those threads and since the computer boots, I guess that’s not the problem.

Found CPU-Z on other threads so I downloaded and installed. It’s reporting a core speed of around 1002 MHz occasionally doubling to 2004 MHz. Found Nova Bench mentioned somewhere so I installed it. Took forever to run but finally got some figures. Ran the drive write test which showed 24 MB/s for the disk. Quite a bit slower than my laptop that reports 86 MB/s. Ran the RAM test which reported 1587 MB/s again, a lot slower than the 5290 MB/s I get on my laptop.

My question is, do these test show I need to change the HDD and RAM, or just the HDD or ??? Is there something else I need to test? This was a great computer until recently but it’s so slow now, it’s almost useless.

Any advice/information would be greatly appreciated.
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  1. You've done just about everything I would have suggested, so no sense re-hashing all that. Do you have a lot of programs running at startup/in the background? Check your taskbar tray and see how many are present. Then check your system configuration/start up tab and see how many boxes are checked.

    But your HDD by comparison, looks to be slowing down. The RAM might just be the fact that it is DDR2 and the laptop may be DDR3 and faster speed. How is the CPU core temps when it has been running for awhile? If the clock speed slows to 1GHZ at idle, no problem, but if it does that when it is in use and temps are high, it could be slowing things down. Have you ever changed the thermal paste on the CPU?
  2. Found Speccy software that shows the CPU operating at 24-25 degrees Celsius. That shows it green so I assume it's good. Even starting programs doesn't change it, so again, I guess it's good.

    I did just change the thermal paste. I was going to swap the CPUs but the one I purchased didn't work out so I had to put the original one back in. I guess now I know that I don't really need to change it.

    As for programs, very minimal is loaded at start-up. I have only installed Norton for protection and log me in to allow me access when I have spare time. The rest is just the windows standard stuff. I didn't want to load anything else until I figure out what is wrong with the machine.

    You are right about the speed and type on the RAM. That was kind of a duh moment for me. Thanks for pointing it out. As you might tell, I'm not really a 'techie'. Just a guy that likes to poke around computers and very frustrated for not figuring this one out yet.

    Looking at the RAM in Speccy shows it's only using 43% at idle an got up to 45% running Nova Bench. So I assume the RAM is okay also.

    Could the HDD be causing this slow down that much?
  3. Yes, a slow or failing HDD could drag down every aspect of the computer. But now that you mention Nortons, I'm wondering about that. Have you always used Norton? It is quite a resource hog. Especially with only 4 GB system memory. You might try uninstalling it for abit and seeing if the speed picks up. I use Microsoft Securities Essentials (free) for virus and Malwarebytes (paid version) for malware. They both present a small footprint.

    Apparently CPU temp isn't the problem. Your benchmarks for RAM looks good. That's a really small HDD. Is it even 7200RPM or is it a 5400RPM drive?

    Btw, file downloading can vary abruptly depending on your internet connection and the server's traffic.
  4. Thanks Clutch.
    When I was doing the rebuild/upgrade to Win-7, I left Norton off as a test for the same reason. I've had similar experiences with Norton sucking all the resources and slowing things down. But the unit was slow even when Norton wasn't installed, so I guess I can't blame them for this one.
    The HDD is small, but is a 7200 unit. The users only are basic users with email, internet, and occasionally Photo editing.

    Since everything else benchmarks well, I guess I will change out the HDD and see if that solves the issue. I assume that since the current HDD is SATA II that I will have to replace it in kind. I like WDs as I've never had a problem with them but did with a seagate a while ago.

    Thank you for the advice and feedback. I'll post an update when I install the new HDD. Fingers crossed.
  5. Best answer
    You can also use a SATA III drive. Whichever you can get the best price on.
    SATA is a backward compatible interface. The SATA III drive will just operate at SATA II throughput, is all. But even that is unimportant, because mechanical drives can't even saturate the SATA II interface. SATA III was mainly developed for SSDs.
  6. Thanks again, I found a Western Digital Caviar Blue 500 GB SATA III 7200 RPM 16 MB Desktop Hard Drive - WD5000AAKX for a decent price. Should have it in a couple of days. Fingers still crossed this is the fix. I’ve been trying to install camera software for our Canon EOS and 1 hour into it and I’m still on the first program.

    Oh, and just to triple check the RAM, I downloaded Memtest X86 and let it run. Again, came back with no errors, so I’m ruling out RAM as an issue. So I’ve ruled out RAM and the CPU. Is there anything else on the MOBO that I should check while I’m waiting for the HDD to arrive?
  7. Well, the dual core processor itself is quite slow by today's standards. But I'm assuming its speed (when all is good) is satisfactory for the users.

    Did you check the RAM one stick at a time or all together? And how many passes did you run?
    Other than a FAILING motherboard, I can't think of anything else to test. Is this the MB?
  8. That looks like the motherboard I'm dealing with and the numbers are right.

    I actually ran multiple tests on the RAM. Running MEMTest from the Win-7, I think I ran it at least twice. After downloading Memtest X86, I ran the standard test with one of the 2 GB sticks, and 2 512MB sticks I had as spares. After I passed, I changed out the 2 512mb Sticks for the other 2GB stick and ran the standard test again. Results were the same with no errors. But the computer does seem slower with the 2 2GB sticks loaded then when it runs with the 1 2GB and 2 512mb sticks. That may just be my impression, not really sure, but it seems to hang more with 4gb in the RAM.

    I'm starting to look at future options if the HDD does't fix this. I guess the next step would be a new mother board. I'm looking through the build and recommendation threads trying to determine if there is something I can simply swap out keeping the case and other parts as they are. But my hope is that the HDD will fix the issue of course.

    Never did get the EOS software loaded. After a couple of hours, the unit had a boot error. Put the system in restore mode last night and haven't checked it yet today.
  9. 1) Are the 2 x 2GB sticks a matched pair? The 2 x 512MB sticks? And are they in the same color slots respectively? In order for the faster dual channel mode to be in effect, the sticks have to match IDENTICALLY in speed, size, timing, etc. And they have to be in the correct pair of slots. Your MB manual should specify which slots should be populated first if it makes a difference. Usually, it is the first slots next to the CPU. But that's not 'carved in stone'.

    2) Do the 512MB sticks match the 2GB sticks as to speed and timing specs?
  10. First, to answer the questions, yes, both the 2gb sticks and 512mb sticks are identical to each other. And as far as I can tell, all four sticks are running at 266 mhz speed. According to CPU-Z, the timing is also the same as reported on JEDEC #1-#3.

    You mentioned dual channel which got me thinking again. When the computer was booting, it was reporting single channel. Both CPU-Z and Speccy were also reporting the same. This was when the 1 2gb stick was installed with the 2 512mbs sticks. So I pulled the two 512s again, and installed the 2nd 2gb stick next the first (both in blue slots, next to the CPU). Now it’s reporting dual channel, and seems to be running a little faster.

    But you got me thinking again, so I looked back at the Specs sheet on HP com, and then also looked at the MOBO specs on the website. I don't think I ever looked at the MOBO specs before, and I think I may have found something.

    According to the MOBO specs, the board supports PC2 4200 (533 MHz) and PC2 5300 (667 MHz) DDR2 DIMMS. The computer spec sheet only lists PC2 4200, no timing. The 2Gb sticks that are installed (and have been for months if not years) are PC2 4300 (266 MHz) sticks. From what I can find on the web, the original 512mb sticks were PC2 4200 (533 MHz) sticks.

    Could this be the solution? Did I install the wrong RAM (to slow) for the machine?
    If so, why would it work all this time fine, then all of a sudden slow down? Does that make sense?
  11. To answer your query about 3 sticks of memory in the slots... yes, when there is a missing dual channel mate, the system will revert to single channel even if the other 2 sticks are in their pair of slots.

    As to the PC2 4300 memory, it is a variant of PC 4200. They both run at 533MHZ. (btw, you typed 233MZ above. I presume that was just a typo)
    The timing (and the speed) will slow down to try to match the slowest of the sticks. Try this; (1) just install the 512MB pair and check the timing in CPU-Z. It will be listed under the Memory Tab/Timings. (2) Repeat with just the 2GB sticks.
    And (3) check that both pairs of sticks are rated at the same voltage. It should be printed on the labels stuck to the sticks.
  12. Well, okay, now I know why it was showing single channel. That wasn’t a typo on the PC2 4300s. CPU-Z shows the bandwidth on the SPD tab to be running at 266 MHz for these sticks (PC2-4300 (266 MHz)). For timings:

    The 2GB sticks show:
    DRAM Freq: 200.4 MHz;
    CL 4.0 clocks
    tRCD 4 clocks
    tRP 4 clocks
    tRAS 12 clocks
    tRC 17 clocks
    CR 1T
    Voltage listed on the label and SPD tab is: 1.80V
    The label for these shows:
    Kingston 9905429-021 Adolf KTD-DM8400A/2G
    000005557459 1.8v
    3DLV3 – A9QHCK - 9WRD6

    The 512MB sticks show:
    DRAM Freq: 200.4 MHz
    CL 4.0 clocks
    tRCD 4 clocks
    tRP 4 clocks
    tRAS 11 clocks
    tRC 15 clocks
    CR 1T
    Voltage listed on the SPD tab is: 1.80V

    Don’t see anything concerning voltage on the 512 stick labels. All that is on the labels is:
    Samsung 512MB 1Rx8 PC2 – 4200U – 444 – 12 – D3
    M8378T6553CZ3 – CD5 0626

    I sure hope this makes some sense to you because I am way out of my knowledge zone.
  13. PC2 4200/4300 memory is 533MHZ in dual channel mode. You have to double whatever is displayed in CPU-Z/Memory/Timings/DRAM Freq. Not what's in the the SPD tab. But if both 2GB sticks are in the correct slots, 200.4 x 2 only equals 400.4MHZ. Odd. Look in the Memory tab and see if it doesn't say 266MHZ. That would be 532MHZ when doubled.
  14. The memory tab does show 266 MHz for the sticks. If it's only showing 200.4....are these sticks not performing at optimal speed? Would this be a RAM Stick issue or a MOBO issue?
  15. retcoast13 said:
    The memory tab does show 266 MHz for the sticks. If it's only showing 200.4....are these sticks not performing at optimal speed? Would this be a RAM Stick issue or a MOBO issue?

    The memory tab shows what the sticks are running at. The SPD tab should have more than one column that shows its speed and timings at different settings that the sticks are presenting to the OS. If I'm not following your question correctly, please post a pic of your CPU-Z/SPD tab and your memory tab.

  16. I apologize. I don't mean to be confusing and I think I'm confusing myself even more. What I was trying to ask, and certainly did not do a good job at it, was that you previously posted that the 200.4 displaying on the memory tab was interesting, and the 266MHz displaying on the SPD tab, when doubled, is what it should be (I assume). Since they both don't show, is there a problem with the RAM. Again, I am way outside my knowledge level, so this is probably not a logical question.

    Thank you for the information on adding pics, hopefully this works.
  17. Hmmm... You're memory appears to be following the slower JEDEC 1 and not the JEDEC 3. I can't find any download for your MB manual to examine the BIOS settings, but maybe there is something you can change to get the memory to run at its rated speed. I can't even find an accurate spec sheet for it other than the tiny bit of info Compaq provides.

    Have you ever made any changes in BIOS? Do you know how to reset the BIOS back to factory default?
    And remember, don't use all 4 sticks at once. The MB is only approved for 4GB according to Compaq.
  18. I don't believe I've ever made any changes to the BIOS, but just in case, I did reset all the settings back to factory default. I checked CPUz and the information in the Memory and SPD tabs did not change from before.

    took 2.5 hours after clicking on Shut Down for the computer to actually shut down. Installed 3 updates during that time. Just can't believe this computer has gotten this slow. :-(
  19. 2.5 Hours! Yikes! It may not be worth the troubleshooting for that old of a PC. Can you swing a new MB/CPU/RAM? Or build a new PC from the ground up? I mean if the new HDD isn't the answer.

    I was going to suggest a CLR CMOS as is shown in the Compaq web page under "clearing the CMOS settings":
    But it sounds like you already did that.
  20. I didn't follow the pin jumping instructions. After the computer finally shut down, I went into the set-up, BIOS, and used f5 to reset all of the parameters to factor default. Would that have the same effect? If not, I can follow those directions pretty easily.

    Yes, I am thinking the same thing. New CPU/MB/RAM. Just a question as to if I can reuse this case and other parts or if I should purchase a bare bones, or parts and start from scratch.

    So far the only issue we've found is the HDD. Am I correct?
  21. retcoast13 said:
    I didn't follow the pin jumping instructions. After the computer finally shut down, I went into the set-up, BIOS, and used f5 to reset all of the parameters to factor default. Would that have the same effect? If not, I can follow those directions pretty easily.
    Basically, yes. The BIOS is firmware etched into the BIOS chip; instructions. The CMOS RAM is memory where the instructions are stored. On older MBs like yours, it might be a good idea to do the jumper routine just to be sure. But it will require you to reset the time/date in BIOS and be sure that the drives are set correctly for boot order. All that will be lost.

    Yes, I am thinking the same thing. New CPU/MB/RAM. Just a question as to if I can reuse this case and other parts or if I should purchase a bare bones, or parts and start from scratch.
    Can you tell me what case you are using? Probably a Compaq OEM case, huh? Link me to a pic of it or post one of your case?

    So far the only issue we've found is the HDD. Am I correct?
    That appears to be the only item questionable, except for the memory not running at its rated speed. That has me scratching my head. Can you snoop around in BIOS and see if there is any memory setting that needs fixing? Darn, I wish I had a link to your MB BIOS manual.

    Did you ever order a replacement HDD?
  22. Yes, last week. Hopefully will have it mid week.
  23. Something curious occurred yesterday. I was looking at the MOBO layout while researching replacements (just in case), and I decided to move the two memory sticks from the blue holders (slots 1 & 2) to the black (slots 3 & 4). Afterward I pulled up CPU-z and was surprised to see different figures on the CPU and Memory tabs.

    CPU tab is now showing a Core Speed (under Clocks) at 2004.20 MHz (as opposed to 1002.06 MHz before) and a multiplier of X 10.0 (instead of 5.0 before) and on the Memory tab, the DRAM Freq is recording 250.5 MHz and FSB: DRAM of CPU/8 (was reporting 200.4 MHz and CPU/5 before). The SPD tabs report the same figures with the exception of the slot numbers. Here’s the new numbers:

    Does this mean anything?

    That was yesterday. Today, I installed the new 500gb HDD. And low and behold, problem is solved! I’ve made more progress installing programs and updates in the last 2 hours than I have the past 3 weeks with the old HDD. Like you said last week, it was running a little slow. I guess it was slower than I ever expected.

    I want to Thank You ClutchC for all your advice, guidance, and patience. My daughter is going to be very happy when she comes home tonight to a normal computer.
  24. The CPU specs could just be you caught it when the CPU was busy (AMD's Cool and Quiet letting it run max when needed). Leave it idle for awhile and see if it drops back down. It should. That is a power saving mode.
    The change in memory specs in the other slots could be part of your speed problem. That's why I was disappointed to not be able to find a good manual for your MB. Some boards (especially older ones) are particular as to which slots are first to be populated. It should state that in the MB manual... were you to have one. At any rate, all's good that ends well. Happy to be of a little assistance.
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