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Latest upgrade wasn't what I'd hoped for

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July 12, 2007 6:11:22 PM

I recently upgraded the vast majority of my computer, and while I see a major performance increase in most aspects (once it's up and running, normal use of internet and iTunes movies), there's a few issues that have me baffled.

MB: Asus M2R32-MVP (on-board sound disabled)
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 3800+ Orleans 2.4GHz Socket AM2
Video Card: ATI Radeon X1650 Pro 512MB PCIE
Sound Card: Razer Barracuda AC-1 (used to be Soundblaster Audigy 2ZS until I found out about the MB incompatibility)
RAM: 2GB DDR2-533 (single DIMM)
PSU: XION Supernova 600W ATX
Case: Thermaltake Xaser III (temperature sensor not installed)
Optical: Samsung 18X DVD+/-R Burner SATA
HD: IDE 80GB 7200rpm drive (master boot) and a larger than 80GB drive (slave) - I forget the manufacturers
Keyboard: Logitech G15
Mouse: Razer Copperhead

Here's the issues:
First - my startup time is attrocious - it takes well over a couple minutes for my computer to start up and become useable. I haven't got enough room on the boot drive to do a proper defrag - and maybe that's all it'll take. But my question is this - is IDE that much slower? Should I be getting an SATA drive for booting? ZoneAlarm, AVG, Optitracker and a couple utility icons (OpenOffice,ATI,Razer,Thrustmaster HOTAS) are the only things that load at startup.

Second - My Razer mouse almost never activates at startup. I have to unplug the USB and plug it back in. It seems like it's not getting power early enough (the blue LED doesn't light) to get recognized by the bus. I had this problem with my old Asus A7N8X-X MB, but it's more often now. It's plugged into one of the main USB connectors on the back of the MB.

Third - This one's the most important - when I'm running WoW, my processor is maxed out to 100%. I used to use full graphics settings on my old system (ATI Radeon 9800 XT, Asus A7N8X-X, 2GB RAM, Audigy 2ZS, 1.1 GHz Athlon 6400+). Now, I have to use default settings with just the resolution maxed out or else the sound is all crackly because the system can't take the load. Now I expected with a MB, Graphics Card, Sound Card and Processor UPGRADE, that I'd be able to do MORE...I'm failing to understand why the new system is so badly taxed at startup and during gaming. I've tried closing all other applications and killing all unnecessary processes. Every so often I get a processor spike that lags me something fierce for about 20 seconds, then everything is good again.

I'm hoping someone has insight into what might be wrong or what I can try - I never expect upgrades to be seamless, but I didn't expect it to end up being a downgrade.

More about : latest upgrade hoped

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July 12, 2007 6:44:20 PM

Your RAM is 2GB in a single DIMM? 2x1GB DIMMS would be faster; would run dual channel.
On the mouse, go into your BIOS and make sure USB mouse support is turned on.
Go in to MSCONFIG/Startup and make sure of what is starting. You might find other stuff, which can be disabled. You can also turn off the Open Office.
For WoW, turn down acceleration in the sound driver and/or lower sound quality (it may actually give you higher quality).

If you have a $65 budget, replace that single-core CPU with a Dual Core. Download and install the dual-core driver from the AMD web site. That will offload all your background junk to another core.
July 12, 2007 6:45:22 PM

"I haven't got enough room on the boot drive to do a proper defrag"

I have seen similar problems like this when the boot drive gets full. Is there anything you can move some stuff to the slave drive? Does the slave drive have room?

I filled my boot drive up to a point where it used alot of my page file and the system performed horribly. If you can try cleaning the boot drive out and see if that helps.


As for the 100% CPU spike, I believe there was an issue with WoW that caused this and the have a fix for it. Not sure if its a patch or just a list of changes. I suggest checking the WoW tech forums for it (do a search using: 100%), below is just one of the thread's I found, aparently AMD's Cool and Quiet can be an issue:

http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=8...

I doubt that IDE is an issue, I have a P4 3.2 HT with an 80GB and 160GB slave and it takes me maybe 12 seconds to get to the longin screen and another 10 to 15 to log in and using Windows XP, I have my ATI console, PcCillin, and sound console loading at log-in.
(Note: I have the same model of vid card you have but its AGP and made by HIS)


Try clearing enough room to run defrag and then as much space as possible and there should be a performace increase. If the slave drive is full, guess that DVD burner will be busy. Good Luck :) 
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July 12, 2007 7:05:40 PM

you need at least 10-25 megs free for a swap file on the boot drive i think for windows. if not things get grinnnding.
July 12, 2007 7:07:40 PM

Your startup time is because your boot drive is too full. Any drive over 80% full will degrade noticeably in performance as the OS scratches around trying to find somewhere to put the files.

Your problem with WOW may well be to do with the same problem - if the system is trying to page or write out to log files or whatever it may be having trouble doing so. One solution might be to move your page file to another drive, but the best solution would be to make your boot drive much bigger than it is using Partition Magic or similar, or to simply clear it out. I would aim for your boot drive to be 50% full maximum to allow for growth - disk space is hardly expensive these days.

The problem with the Razor I have had intermittently for ages and have learnt to live with - I would be interested if anyone else knows of the solution to this.
July 12, 2007 7:35:25 PM

On top of what everyone above said, you should also be able to change you bios to do a quick memory test, change the boot order so drive C is first. You can change this later if you need to boot from a CD. That won't shave off a lot of time, but every little bit helps.
July 12, 2007 8:07:32 PM

Could also be an AM2 setup with DDR2 533 ram, AMD CPUs benefit greatly from DDR2 800. (Or take a performance hit without DDR2 800, either way you prefer looking at it). Try asking a friend for a borrowed DDR2 800 stick and use it instead, see if it helps.
July 23, 2007 1:11:15 PM

Thank you all so much for the great advice - I've managed to get a much more stable system and find out a little bit more about what's going on. The final problem I'm having is that every so often (the timing varies), I'll get a spike of Hardware Interrupts taking up about 40% of the processor (basically what's left available). It slows down operation of all other hardware/software on the computer for about 5-10 seconds, and then goes away. I would expect this sort of thing from overheating, but any of the software sensors are reporting anywhere from 35-42C, which is normal operating range. I have absolutely no idea what would be causing this.
July 23, 2007 1:51:13 PM

breal42 said:
I haven't got enough room on the boot drive to do a proper defrag - and maybe that's all it'll take.


why dont you have enough room?
you have an 80 gig drive, what have you done? have you partitioned it into something crazily small?

that's going to be most of your problem, if you dont have enough room on the drive that will cause a host of problems.

Valis
July 23, 2007 1:52:32 PM

maximiza said:
you need at least 10-25 megs free for a swap file on the boot drive i think for windows. if not things get grinnnding.


10-25 megs for a swap file is horrendously small.
July 23, 2007 1:56:43 PM

WinXP wants at least 20% (I forget the exact number) free in order to move files around while it does the defrag - I had only 13G free on the drive and that wasn't enough. Anyway - all the original problems are solved, I've now just got the Hardware Interrupt issue.
July 23, 2007 2:58:37 PM

please practice basic computer mantenance

transfer 10GB from master to slave, and install anything new to slave, also if you have source disk uninstall and reinstall any large programs 2GB+ {mostly games}

DEFRAG

don't every fill a HDD up again

also run "disk clean up" and clean out those temp files so you can do a defrag

after doing so you can go through "toms" and look up and read articles about how to optimize your computer
July 23, 2007 3:05:02 PM

Please pay attention to the entirety of the post. I have transfered files off my master drive, defragged it and have for a long time not installed anything new on it. I have run Disk Clean Up, ScanDisk and Defragment - my drives are fine now.

A full hard disk does NOT explain a 40% or greater spike in Hardware Interrupts that grinds the processor to a near halt for 5-10 seconds every 10 minutes or so. I have followed all of the advice in the thread already and cleared up the vast majority of my problems. This one still remains.
July 23, 2007 6:45:35 PM

When you say 'Hardware Interrupts' what do you mean?
July 23, 2007 6:51:33 PM

I mean exactly that - I'm using a Task Manager program that shows far more detail than WinXP does (the name of it escapes me at the moment, but it was a suggested tool on the WoW forums for people with the 100% CPU issue). One of the categories is hardware interrupts. And given how disruptive the spike is to my other processes, I can confirm that it is definitely very high-priority instructions which fits hardware interrupts to a T. It really seems like every bit of hardware on the computer is requesting an interrupt all at once.
July 23, 2007 8:39:15 PM

Pardon my ignorance but, I think you need a much larger HD. The bigger the better. 80GB is small to me. I have gone from 40GB at one time to 500GB at present. An 80GB HD fills up pretty fast.
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