Extremely slow comp.

So my parents have this computer and I believe it is just a cheap Dell build with a med. tower case, built in gfx card (to the mobo), I think an intel i3 cpu. Then a 320gb HDD to go along with that. This thing is 3 or 4 years old now.

Problem is that it's extremely so on everything. When I was home over the summer I cleaned it up, deleted a bunch of useless things and did multiple virus scans, and that helped a little. But if I recall it was still really slow on doing anything. Opening chrome took at least 5 mins (literally).

So I want to buff it up a little when I go home for christmas. I was thinking of already getting a new HDD, something around a 320 or 500GB WD, since I don't know what kind of HDD they currently have in there.

But I wanted to ask what else would be making this thing so slow. Now they only use this comp for basically internet browsing on IE and Chrome, so nothing expensive is needed, which is good since my budget for this is max $100.

So any ideas what to replace in this thing will be appreciated. Thanks.
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  1. Biggest upgrade you could do is an SSD. You could run chkdsk and memtestx86 to see if anything is failing.
  2. It seems that was a low line computer when it was bought and I doubt it has even an i3 if it's as old as you say. Technology is doubling in the consumer marked about every four years. This means that something top of the line a few years back is about mid grade so yours is lower than the low. I'd advise saving your $100 and looking for something about $250-300 on black Friday.

    At the moment look at something like this. A friend has it (his parents, he has a gaming computer) and it is quite fast for the price.
    If you check it often (things go out of stock fast) you can get a desktop for under $300.
  3. I think a cheap SSD might not be bad. And I realize that the comp is definitely outdated. Mine is getting outdated as well, and it's only a year old. But like I said, they only use this thing for nothing but IE and Chrome use, and I guess the occasional accounting programs and Microsoft Office.

    I'm just wondering if anything else would affect the speed. I doubt RAM would have much affect, and the CPU shouldn't play a big part on the simple programs.
    If I were to install Windows on a SSD along with some meniscal programs, and redirect everything else to the existing HDD, it in theory should speed up substantially right?

    Assuming the mobo takes SATA cables and the PSU has an extra plug in...
  4. I'd say just doing a clean install of Windows 7 would go a long, long way (or a fully patched Vista). SSD would help too as well as some more RAM (assuming they only have like 2GB now - if they have 4 it may not help to go to 8).
  5. ram does effect speed of a pc. dont forget most cheap pc four years ago had windows vista and xp and 2-4g of ddr2 ram. take to mon or dad get the model of the dell and there service number for the dell. with the model number you can go to cruscial and see the min and max ram the system can use. with the sell service tag you can pull of the original build and spec. and pull up the model and name of the mb used (dell service part number). if you do change the hard drive ask if mom and dad had the dell restore cd for the pc first. it make your life easy if you can put the factory image onto the new drive then connect the old drive to the pc and copy over there personal data. for the old drive i would toss it into a usb drive encloses so they can use it as a back up drive.
  6. You need to get to root cause of "Opening chrome took at least 5 mins (literally). " somethings broken, HW or SW.

    Agree with suggestion to reinstall windows using factory recovery. You can do that with the factory recovery partition in about 2 hours. Then load all the windows fixes to get back to level for another hour.

    Once on fresh windows check your windows experience numbers. Make sure they are in the same ballpark as other people with same CPU, video (use google). There are many things that would make you 10X slower, for example thermal throttling. But most are caused by bad SW.
  7. I am kind of having second thoughts now. I feel that a complete reinstall of windows would help significantly but if it doesn't then chances of me getting replacement parts in time are close nothing.

    That's why I was asking here to see what hardware would affect it because I'm studying in Montreal so it only takes maximum 2 days for for me to get things online whereas it takes 2 or 3 weeks to receive stuff from their place and I am only there for 2 weeks.
    And if I do decide to get new hardware, say new RAM sticks or a SSD, I don't even know now if it will be compatible.
  8. Nothing except broken HW or SW will make "Opening chrome took at least 5 mins ". Without debugging its hard to say what parts to buy.

    Assume this is a WIN7 system. Suggest you lauch resource monitor (type it in the search box on the start menu). Then launch chrome. Did CPU spike to 100% - it shouldn't. Open the disk tab, look at service times. They should be in the range of 5 to 20 miliseconds. anything more post what you are seeing. Look at the overview then at the bottom to see the hard faults reported. You should see only a few hard faults. If you see a bunch record the name of the programand let us know. No to the memory tab. You should see a bunch of 'free' and/or 'standbye' memory. If not post and look who is using a lot of memory (working set size) post names.
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