I have the Dell Inspiron 531 with Windows Vista Home Basic. The processor that it came with is 2.1 GHz dual core (AMD Athlon 64 x2 AM2) and I am considering upgrading it to 2.9 GHz (same model). The boot can be slow and opening large files and/or programs can cause the computer trouble. Sometimes it freezes.
So is the upgrade significant enough or should I consider upgrading to say 3.1 or 3.2 GHz or should I just not upgrade?
You should look at getting it to 4GB of ram minimum, 1.8v PC2-6400, Memory size is a hit or miss affair, as some report only 1GB units working, others have 2GB units. Also some of the slots are close to optical drive so low profile.
Latest BIOS supports up to a AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+ Brisbanes
low profile ram means its shorts, so it doesnt hit things above it. with only 1gb, and vista being a resource hog, it leaves you with <500mb of system ram. you could go with a 2gb kit, and raise your total to 3gb, whick would be nice and save you a buck or two over a 4gb kit.
with your original question, that cpu upgrade may help, but your boot times and file/program troubles probably stem from a full/cluttered hard drive. clean the system with Ccleaner, EUSing free reg cleaner, run a check disk, and see if defragging will help. if your hdd is close to full capacity, look into deleting / adding more space and moving some things.
I've used MSCONFIG and that has helped the start time; my hard drive has around 220 GB capacity and now it is filled up to around 115 GB. Does that mean that fragmented files are the main problem? Also one more thing I use Advanced System Care v4 Pro and the accompanying Smart Defrag. How well does that work? Because it works for a long time and I don't see too much improvement... thanks for the help
3.5 is limitation of a 32bit OS, so adding more ram is a bigger performance boost in your case than upgradeing CPU.
As for the CPU, best to check supported CPUs on Dell's website. You can phisicaly put an Phenom II X6 1100 in there, but no use if you don't have a bios supporting it and your MBO can't give it enough power.