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Please help need to upgrade my parents PC.

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November 11, 2006 5:05:47 PM

Ok I built my parents a computer about a year and a half ago and its served them well but they are asking if I can make it a little faster. I checked out the computer just to make sure nothing was wrong with it and its fine, its not terribly slow or anything but it is noticably less responsive than my own pc which is a 4200x2 with 2gigs. So I think there is some room for improvement on thier computer. Right now the system is as follows
AMD Athlon 3800 2.4ghz socket 939
MSI K8N neo4
1gig Kingston HyperX DDR
Asus X1300pro
160gig Samsung sata hard drive
Samsung dvd/cd-rw drive

So basically I would like to know which would be a better upgrade right now.
A. replace the single core 3800 with a dual core 3800x2
B. add another gig of ram for a total of 2gigs

Both options are pretty close in price. So which would give me more of a performance boost?? They use the computer mainly for the basics MS Office, music, movies, web browsing....etc. Im leaning more towards the cpu upgrade. What do you guys think??
Thanks
Frank

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November 11, 2006 5:18:01 PM

What are they doing with it?

If it is something like simply surfing the net then a CPU will not improve things. If they are using Photoshop to touch up some photos then a CPU could come in handy.
November 11, 2006 5:52:03 PM

both will give you performance boost but perhaps not too noticeable with your parents usage.

the dual core cpu will give you enough resource on handling threads while multitasking (ms office while surfing the net while playing mp3 and or watching movies).

the 2gb ram will give you enough physical memory resource on application which needs more memory (such as firefox when doing multitabs or ms excel with a lot of spreadsheet).

i've noticed a different in using available physical memory in windows xp when using intel p4 or above processor and amd 64 processor. in my opinion, the integrated memory controller in the cpu needs more memory than the memory controller host in the northbridge chipset. i found i gained fewer physical memory available while i was using amd 64 3000+ or amd 64 x2 3800+ with 512mb ram than the same software used while i was using p4 2.4ghz or pd 805 or c2d e6300 or c2d 6600 with 512mb ram. if the available physical memory is below 150mb, it will slow down your application step by step until it's all reallocated to hard drive.

so before you decide on what to buy, could you take a look at your parents pc what are they using which makes them complaint about the responsiveness and check the windows task manager to see what hogs the system down, is it the cpu reach 100% most of the time, or the physical memory available is less than 150000? and don't forget to check the free space on the system drive, you need minimal of 1.5gb of free space just to make the system runs well (assuming they are using 1gb of ram).

if the cpu runs above 50% most of the time than the x2 3800+ will give you the performance boost.

if the physical memory available is less than 150000 than adding an additional 1gb of ram will give you the performance boost.

if you happens run out of both cpu and ram, you will figure it out yourself someway. :) 

goodluck!
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November 11, 2006 5:53:53 PM

ya i would deffinentally check if it was spam/spware/viruses, like the guy before asked what would they be doing with it? i dont think responsivness is a degree for upgrade.
November 11, 2006 6:02:03 PM

My first thought is to upgrade to 2 gig of ram. If they are having to use virtual memory from the hard disc, that could slow things quite a bit. I recently upgraded my kid's computer that has an Athlon 3500 to 2 gig and he says its a lot faster, not just games, but also the business software he runs.

Second thought is to mildly overclock the cpu. Doesn't cost anything, and a 10%overclock will speed it up a fair amount.

Only if the above two things don't help would I go for a faster dual core cpu.
November 11, 2006 6:20:14 PM

First try defragmenting the hard drive. If you have a boot-time defragmenter like Diskeeper, all the better to start off with that.

I'd probably add a second GB of RAM before upgrading to dual core, but the two upgrades are pretty close. The x2 3800+ is actually about 20% slower than the plain 3800+ unless you are specifically stressing the second core in ordinary usage.

A64 3800+ 2.4GHz
A64 x2 3800+ 2 x 2.0GHz
November 11, 2006 6:38:44 PM

There HAS to be something wrong with that PC, some software or hardware related problem, otherwise I'd not justify a K8 CPU for being so slow. Have you run any benchmarks on it; what do bandwidth, superPI etc look like?
Check if there are any heavy background processes etc because ot just mekes no sense; I am on a 3000+, RAM an videocard are more than mediocre and it still rocks.
November 11, 2006 7:37:39 PM

If all they do is emailing, surfing net doing light word processing than your specification is relatively decent so I wouldn't worry about that. I see this type of things everyday, so here's what you should do.

1) Run anti-virus software to check for any virus (if you haven't done it)
2) Uninstall any unused program (junkies)
2) Defrag the hard drive (if you haven't done it)
3) Select Start/run/type "msconfig" and press enter. On the Startup Tab uncheck any unused program from automatic starting when you start your computer (uncheck all except any anti-virus softwares). 8 out of 10 this is where your bottomneck comes from.
4) If all of the above fails, than back up all their data and do a clean OS install which never fails.

NOTE: As for hardware upgrading, I highly recommend Intel D or Dual core over AMD especially for multi-tasking.

Good luck! 8)
November 11, 2006 8:03:06 PM

Quote:
NOTE: As for hardware upgrading, I highly recommend Intel D or Dual core over AMD especially for multi-tasking.

Good luck! 8)

You're abit rusty in your specs, however;
1- AMD's X2s are largely superior to Intel Pentium Ds (as Core2 is to X2s)
2- He mentioned upgrading; getting a whole new PC is much more expensive and is usually called buying a new one.
November 11, 2006 8:26:16 PM

My first thought would be to get another hard drive (not too expensive) & setup a RAID 0 set to reinstall windows on. For the usage they do, they don't likely saturate the 1GB ram nor the processor speed. They likely do however frequently access the hard drive to look at files. I used to get frustrated with the flashlight looking for folders when browsing my computer until I got a RAID 0 sata set (now using 0+1).
Jo
November 11, 2006 9:08:26 PM

Download the new windows search tool.... Once your system's indexed, your raid will seem like a turtle in comparison.
November 11, 2006 9:24:39 PM

It's not just browsing (I do use indexed desktop search), loading videos & ms office documents is just faster on a raid 0 set. I gives the system that extra responsiveness such that you feel like you are using a fast computer instead of a slow one. I'd say for the system & usage in question, the best hardware upgrade to get (bang/buck) is the one to raid 0. Of course like the others said, use indexed search, reduce clutter like startup programs, defrag...
Jo
November 11, 2006 10:05:35 PM

Quote:


NOTE: As for hardware upgrading, I highly recommend Intel D or Dual core over AMD especially for multi-tasking.


Because its a better space heater? Sorry Intel D's are not better than AMD's, the only reason to get on is because you want to upgrade to a Core2Duo but can't afford it (which in my mind says you should hang on for the extra time as the price differences are not that huge).

I really hate it when people recommen a) P4's b) Pentium D's c)semprons d)celerons e)turions


They simply don't perform when compared to other options out there.
November 12, 2006 3:49:04 AM

There is nothing wrong with the computer . I do weekly maintenance on it including virus/spyware scans, registry and disk clean, reg, pagefile, and drive defrag....etc. The computer does perform quite well but it is noticeably less responsive and slower than my 4200x2 2gig system even when just doing basic PC tasks. I dont know if its the extra memory the extra core or both but my system is faster even with the basics. Ive treid a small overclock to 2.6ghz on my parents PC but the 3800 is already running 2.4ghz so there isnt much headroom those chips only go to about 2.7ghz. 200mhz isnt going to make much differance and probably not worth the extra stress and heat on the cpu. I think im going to try putting my 2gigs of memory into thier computer to see what effect it has. But I have a feeling a dual core will make a larger differance. Thanks guys
November 12, 2006 4:24:04 AM

Control alt delete has a performance tab.
Set it up, and let them go to town. It will tell you if mem or cpu usage is getting to 100% usage.
While you are there, check what peocesses are running.
November 12, 2006 3:15:36 PM

Yes I have treid looking at the performance monitor in Task Manager. I ran a few tests to see what was going on. Heres what I did.

Test 1- opened up all the programs they use at once MSword 2 docs, Excel 2 docs, Adobe reader 20mb pdf file, WMP11 playing mp3 stream, Opera9 8 tabs. Every thing was fine here the cpu was peaking at 100% when opening the programs but settled down to around 5-11% once they were opened. This is what task manager shows.

Totals: Physical Memory:
handles 9319 Total 1048048
threads 466 available 593058
processes 24 System cache 732400

Comit Charge: Kernel Memory:
total 504716 total 98832
limit 2521124 paged 75612
peak 529472 nonpaged 23216


Test#2 was very similar except i added a AVG spyware scan in the backround. This is where it gets interesting, the cpu was really being stressed now with it hitting 100% through most of the scan, and making the rest of the programs noticeabley slower and less responsive. I still have over 500megs free though.

I didnt have time to try any other test such as audio/video encoding or cd ripping/burning both of which my dad does do pretty often. I will do some more test tommrow when I have a chance. But so far it seems that 1gig is sufficient for anything they are going to be doing, but they definitly could run into cpu limitations pretty easily if a spy/virus scan is running and most likely if they are doing any sort of audio/video encoding, but ill have to do more testing to find out. So its starting to look like the cpu upgrade is the best bet. Any other opinions??
November 12, 2006 3:37:35 PM

Quote:
I really hate it when people recommen a) P4's b) Pentium D's c)semprons d)celerons e)turions

Agree on all but the semprons; even though singlecores are all drifting on the value side, we have to consider that a sempron performs almost identically to an equally clocked athlon (avg. 3% worse); nothing to do with the celeron/celeron D which suffer so much their crippled cache and lack of HT.
November 12, 2006 10:06:41 PM

Quote:
I really hate it when people recommen a) P4's b) Pentium D's c)semprons d)celerons e)turions

Agree on all but the semprons; even though singlecores are all drifting on the value side, we have to consider that a sempron performs almost identically to an equally clocked athlon (avg. 3% worse); nothing to do with the celeron/celeron D which suffer so much their crippled cache and lack of HT.

The Pentium D805 isnt bad if your on a real tight budget, its probably the best performing cpu for under $100. But unless your on a super low budget its hard not to reccomend spending the extra $50 and getting and Athlon 3800x2!
November 12, 2006 10:58:00 PM

What I would do is, switch to a dual core processor. 3800 or better. My thinking is that 939 CPU are bound to disapear sooner than later, better get one now and see how it goes. I might be wrong on this but I think that it will harder to get a 2x CPU when they get phased out then getting some DDR memory. Also, beside gaming why would someone need 2 x 1 Gig of Ram ? 1 gig pretty much runs anything decently right now beside a few exceptions. I think that a CPU ugrade will speed things up more efficiently then more RAM.
November 13, 2006 6:03:54 PM

No need to criticize others for their opinions. State your point and move on. The owner can make his/her own decision. LOL!

System:
* Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 (No OC)
* Zalman CNPS 7000B-Cu LED Cooler
* ATI Radeon X1900XTX 512MB DDR3
* ASUS P5B-VM with FragBox II MicroATX case
* 2x1GB, PC2-4300, CL=3-3-3-8, Geil Ultra Low Latency
* Ultra 550W ATX (Ultra X2 550-Watt with UV & SLI ready
* Lite-On 16x DVD/CD Writer with LightScribe
* TrackIR 4 Pro
* Cougar HOTAS
* Dell UltraSharp 3007WFP LCD
=============================
"One Can Never Have Enough"

Cheers! 8)
November 13, 2006 6:43:03 PM

I would do a reinstall of Windows first. Windows gunks up, especially after a year and a half.
November 13, 2006 6:43:19 PM

Dual-core, and forget adding the RAM. Consider the Opteron 165, which can be overclocked considerably on air.
November 13, 2006 9:08:27 PM

Quote:
No need to criticize others for their opinions. State your point and move on. The owner can make his/her own decision. LOL!

System:
* Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 (No OC)
* Zalman CNPS 7000B-Cu LED Cooler
* ATI Radeon X1900XTX 512MB DDR3
* ASUS P5B-VM with FragBox II MicroATX case
* 2x1GB, PC2-4300, CL=3-3-3-8, Geil Ultra Low Latency
* Ultra 550W ATX (Ultra X2 550-Watt with UV & SLI ready
* Lite-On 16x DVD/CD Writer with LightScribe
* TrackIR 4 Pro
* Cougar HOTAS
* Dell UltraSharp 3007WFP LCD
=============================
"One Can Never Have Enough"

Cheers! 8)

:?:
!