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Reviving a Pentium 4 Rig

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August 30, 2009 6:41:43 PM

My Mom has an old Pentium 4 PC, and it's lack of performance is starting to bug her. I'm trying to think of ways to speed it up a bit. Here's the situation.

CPU: Pentium 4 Prescott @ 3GHz.
GPU: Nvidia GeForce4 MX4000
Mobo: Gigabyte P45 Titan, Model #:GA-8IPE1000-G
RAM: 512MB DDR 400
HDD: 80GB Western Digital SATA, Unknown RPM
Case: Generic No Name with heat issues

So, here's what I was thinking of doing:

Add 2GB (2x1GB) of RAM

Add a 500GB Western Digital Black Caviar

The case is a serious heatbox. It has little ventilation, no HDD cooling, and one 80mm side fan that doesn't work. So I was thinking it might be a good idea to replace the case with this and a 120mm fan.

I would complete the process with some data back-up and reformatting.

What do you guys think is the most cost effective way to get this machine running smoothly again?

Computer Uses: Playing various online flash games, email, web surfing, youtube, and it's used as a media library (Song and photos, no movies).

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a b B Homebuilt system
August 30, 2009 7:20:37 PM

most pple here will recommend a total revamp,a bigger hard drive, more ram, better case aint gonna be much help performance wise but i dont see anything wrong with what you wanna add its just pointless
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August 30, 2009 8:00:43 PM

in any case, i doubt your mom needs performance ram, i think some basic DDR400 will do fine

though personally i think she needs a new computer, a P4 is slow even @3GHz, plus with a new computer you could go smaller form factor and less heat
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August 30, 2009 8:15:16 PM

Even your mother can sense the lack of performance!! then you better scrap the whole platform and get a new one.
anyway what you are up to do will definitely help especially the memory add, but you should also consider using winxp and avoid vista at any cause.
Use a light AV like Bitdefender gamesafe. and avoid big fat security suites.
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August 30, 2009 8:40:55 PM

I don't think you really need a new one. It doesn't seem like she uses for that much stuff. A pentium 4 at 3ghz is enough for what she does. I think more ram will help a lot though. Just get her up to at least 1 gig. I'm not sure if the new hard drive will make that much of a difference, but reformatting always helps a lot with sluggishness..

And as far as the heat, if it isn't hurting the computer and it isn't throttling the processor, then you should be ok. But I would still recommend getting a new 80mm fan for the side. Or even better see if you can put one in the back. If it works fine the way it is, just adding a fan to the back (or the side if you have to) would help a lot.

Just adding some more ram should extend the usable life of the computer a lot.
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a c 136 B Homebuilt system
August 30, 2009 8:50:34 PM

when old computers slow down its usually a sign that hard drives are full , the OS is corrupted or the machine is full of spyware and malware

Id sped some money on an external hard drive , back up all the data files , and re-install windows , and then get the machine protected by a good firewall and antivirus

If she cant afford those things then COMODO firewall is free and very good
So is AVAST anti-virus

2 gig of RAM is plenty for XP 32 bit . Even with that amount it will be faster than any Vista computer.
Adding a hard drive is probably a good idea for data security

And Prescott P4's do run very hot so a better cooling case could be a good plan too
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August 30, 2009 9:51:49 PM

Go with the RAM upgrade first (THE most important).

We've upgraded an 875 chipset with this Corsair DDR 400,
and it works beautifully in that PGA478 machine with 3.2GHz Prescott:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Then, consider moving her browser cache(s) to a ramdisk
using RamDisk Plus from www.superspeed.com (only $50).

The latter step will off-load her relatively slow HDD.

Don't forget: all hard drives fall in speed by about 50%
from outer to inner recording tracks: this happens because
the electronics attempt to maintain the same or similar
recording density, which results in slower reads & writes
on the innermost tracks. Run HDTune to see this graphed.

If you then decide to add a faster HDD, move the
Windows swap file to that faster HDD: BEST WAY
is to format a "short-stroke" (smallish) partition,
then create a contiguous pagefile.sys using the
freeware software CONTIG (cf. Google).

That way, pagefile.sys will be assigned to the
lowest sector addresses in that partition,
further reducing read/write armature movements.

We recommend Cooler Master's cases all the time,
because they listen to their customers, and
use that advice to implement very practical, and very
functional features in their many chassis variations.


Lastly, there are now AGP video cards that use much faster
components adapted from PCI-Express cards. That upgrade will
also make a noticeable difference to her.


MRFS



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August 30, 2009 11:05:10 PM

Thanks for the replies guys. I know for sure that I'll add the RAM. The only reason I was considering another hard drive is because 80GB fills up relatively fast, and my experience is that a full hard drive does noticeably affect a computers' performance. Any suggestions as to which AGP graphics card would provide the best performance increase for <$50?

As far as Spyware and Malware go, she has Norton and Spyhunter 3. I removed all the spyware, but there was a trojan that couldn't be removed and was quarantined.

Uses updated: I forgot that my younger siblings occasionally use the computer as a song and photo library.

Would it be hard to mod the case to allow a couple 120mm fans? I'd like to add dust filters if any of you individuals know where some decent dust filtering material is avaliable.
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August 31, 2009 2:26:21 AM

brettdaniel117 said "I'm trying to think of ways to speed it up a bit"

Put linux on it :) 
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August 31, 2009 3:25:39 AM

The hard drive upgrade should help it boot faster and run apps faster. Running XP requires at least 1GB of memory, anything less and it'd be sluggish. 2GB would be ideal as running even Photoshop or any other big app would fill up that 1GB.

As for the video card almost anything now is faster than the MX4000. Though the gain on desktop performance on XP would be minimal.

* I did switch before an GF2 MX200 for a GF4 MX440 and it did speed up desktop performance, though switching it later to a GF 6600 did very little to nothing.
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August 31, 2009 6:09:23 AM

Only Ram upgrade and HD upgrade will be useful.

You can also think of selling that PC and get a cheap Laptop.

You can open the Side Lid of your case for better airflow.
That would help a bit for maintaining temps.

You can also use linux.

Graphic card upgrade on AGP will be useless so don't spend on that.

Install fresh copy of OS and You may also install RAZOR VISTA theme for Enhancing the looks(It doesn't slows xp down).
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August 31, 2009 3:25:02 PM

AGP: The Radeon HD 4650 is now available in AGP models
but these retail prices may exceed your budget e.g.:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

Here's a review of Gigabyte's Radeon HD 4650:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-4650-agp,238...


Dust Filter: there are lots of aftermarket options here e.g.:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


MRFS
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August 31, 2009 3:35:41 PM

That computer is PLENTY fast for the light uses you mentioned. The ram upgrade and a reformat and reinstall of Windows will do wonders for the machine. You mentioned it has Nortons on it, which certainly isn't going to help the computer seem snappy. A larger/faster hard drive *might* help, but unless she has a need for the space, I wouldn't bother at this time. I'd also hesitate to spend any money on graphics card upgrades, not only because it's unnecessary for her uses, but because you may have power supply issues with a No-Name case and PS.
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August 31, 2009 4:28:18 PM

You're getting some good, practical advice above.

Also, there are some simple things which you can
do to "tweak" XP. A very simple step is to disable
all of the special "Visual Effects":

right click on My Computer

Properties

Advanced

Performance Settings

Visual Effects

choose "Custom"

then, UNcheck all of those features


Another simple step is to defragment the C: partition:
it's a good idea to close all open windows first,
and try to exit from all user programs that may
be memory-resident.


The Internet is well documented with methods for
optimizing XP without spending lots of money.


But, to emphasize the good advice above,
upgrading to 2GB of RAM is easily THE most effective.

Your mom's Pentium is plenty fast, by itself.


MRFS
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September 1, 2009 7:32:36 PM

ur Computer Uses: Playing various online flash games, email, web surfing, youtube, and it's used as a media library (Song and photos, no movies).

pentium4 3GiG supports 800FSB. better u buy a new motherboard [intel classic series G31PR], & buy min [1x1=2] 2GIG 800bus ram. with 2 pair of ram supports dual channel mode with full 800mhz system buss. this intel motherboard has built in INTEL GMA [graphic media accelarator] that much better from ur existing gForce4 MX4000.
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September 1, 2009 7:32:47 PM

ur Computer Uses: Playing various online flash games, email, web surfing, youtube, and it's used as a media library (Song and photos, no movies).

pentium4 3GiG supports 800FSB. better u buy a new motherboard [intel classic series G31PR], & buy min [1x1=2] 2GIG 800bus ram. with 2 pair of ram supports dual channel mode with full 800mhz system buss. this intel motherboard has built in INTEL GMA [graphic media accelarator] that much better from ur existing gForce4 MX4000.
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September 2, 2009 9:19:35 AM

armanhussain said:


pentium4 3GiG supports 800FSB. better u buy a new motherboard [intel classic series G31PR], & buy min [1x1=2] 2GIG 800bus ram. with 2 pair of ram supports dual channel mode with full 800mhz system buss. this intel motherboard has built in INTEL GMA [graphic media accelarator] that much better from ur existing gForce4 MX4000.





Waste of $$$$$ :non: 
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September 2, 2009 5:46:08 PM

shubham1401 said:
Waste of $$$$$ :non: 





:??:  waste of $ ! lol. how ? he can get a mainboard at a cost of $50-60, & ram for $11x2=$22max for 2 gb ram. total cost average $70-80. he need not to upgrade his pc to intel i7 or dual gtx in sli :p  as because he use his pc for only run flash games, email, web surfing, youtube, and it's used as a media library.
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September 2, 2009 6:02:46 PM

The 70-80$ will give very Low performance boost.There is no need of a mobo as he has one.

Dual channel is fast but not that fast that you have to get a new board.

IMO getting a gig of ram and a new HD(320-500GB) will do gr8.
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