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HDD slowing new PC down?

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January 27, 2007 3:11:44 PM

Hi. I recently built a new PC with the following components:

Asus P5B mobo
Core 2 duo E6300
Nvidia 7950gt 512mb
1024mb ram
Sony DVD-RW
Western Digital WD1600JS 160gb SATA hdd
Windows XP Pro SP2

The problem is that, despite the fact that all the components appear to be installed and detected correctly, the system is running very slowly and my main suspicion at the moment is that it's the HDD. It makes a huge amount of grinding and churning sounds, more akin to my old PATA HDDs after years of use, only this SATA one is even louder and produces noises more frequently. Tasks like unzipping 30mb worth of files and copying similarly sized folders are extremely slow (1 minute), which again indicates the HDD may be the problem. The initial format, which took nearly an hour, detected the drive as only having a 137gb capacity. In Windows, the capacity is listed as 137,427,943,424 bytes then 127gb, which doesn't seem to make much sense. In the bios, the drive is detected as follows:

In the 'Main' section of the bios, it is listed under SATA1.
Entering the SATA1 section, the drive is detected as follows:

Device: hard disk
Vendor: WDC WD1600JS-00NCB1
Size: 160GB
LBA Mode: Supported
Block Mode: 16 sectors
PIO Mode: 4
Async DMA: Multiword DMA-2
Ultra DMA: Ultra DMA-5
SMART monitoring: supported

Under this, the following variables can be changed (asterisk indicates its current setting):

Type: *Auto/not installed/CDROM/ARMD
LBA/Large mode: *Auto/disabled
Block (multi-sector transfer): *Auto/disabled
PIO mode: *Auto/0/1/2/3/4
DMA mode:*Auto/SWDMA0/SWDMA1/SWDMA2/MWDMA0/MWDMA1/MWDMA2/UDMA0/UDMA1/UDMA2/UDMA3/UDMA4/UDMA5
SMART monitoring: *Auto/enable/disable
32 bit data transfer: *Enabled/disabled

Anyone have any idea if any of these are worth changing, or any other suggestions to fix this problem? Thanks.

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January 27, 2007 3:41:38 PM

Certain hard drive controllers don't have good support for drives over 137 GB. This is usually a limitation within either the controller itself, or it's firmware. You don't have to worry about that though, most times when you reformat a large drive (Like a 320 GB drive I have) the rest usually appears once you get into windows.

As for your slow performance, have you recently done a defrag on your hard drive? If you've had the installation for at least a week and popped all your software onto it, chances are your hard drive is fragmented from loading up everything. It's worth a shot to check.
January 27, 2007 3:56:24 PM

Thanks for the tip, but I've only had the system running for a day, and it was slow when I only had Windows installed with no additional software. I should have also mentioned in the original post that I tried running ScanDisk, but it found nothing wrong and provided no improvement.
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January 27, 2007 4:01:51 PM

Your size seems right

hard drive manufacturers list 1gig as 1000megs when in reality it is 1024megs.....

that puts your drive in the 128gig(127 is close enough....) area....

same goes for windows.....1024bytes to a kilobyte 1024 kilobytes to a megebyte.....see the trend.....seems confusing....but thats the way it is....

As for loudness the faster the drive seeks...the louder it tends to get....
Also pay close attention to the seek times with software like HD tach....for a while drives all came with acoustic management...This made drives quiet....but slowed down the seeks....The end result of this was a slower(but quieter) system.

As for speed....you can try to get HD tach and see how fast the drive is....

Is there a certain program that seems slow....or is it everything?
January 27, 2007 4:55:14 PM

Quote:
The initial format, which took nearly an hour, detected the drive as only having a 137gb capacity.

Sounds like your installation was made from an old WinXP disk!
You did not install from a SP2 CD did you?
Only WinXP SP1 or SP2 will support large volume sizes...
When you install WinXP and then apply SP2, it is not the same thing.
Why not just slipstream your WinXP CD to SP2? It's fairly straightforward (and actually recommended by Micro$oft).
Dunno what's up with your HD - my 320GB/16MB WD (and of course my Raptor) are noisy but very fast...
When installing with WinXP SP2 CD the HD should be blank/unpartitioned/unformatted and will be detected as 160GB,
Regards
January 31, 2007 3:30:40 AM

Hmm, I'm beginning to think I just had overly high expectations for the drive. I've given it a few days and it isn't painfully slow, but I am surprised that it is slightly slower than my old PATA drive when it comes to general desktop usage. Thanks for the help.
January 31, 2007 3:40:22 AM

Just for the hell of it, I'll ask.

Did you install your motherboard cd? chipset drivers?
February 2, 2007 1:19:21 PM

That is every indication of a bad drive.

mike
!