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Help the computer illiterate... answer these Questions

Discussion in 'Tech Talk' started by popnfresh, Aug 21, 2004.

  1. popnfresh

    popnfresh

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    I have a few questions that seem to be common knowlege so I thought I would ask here rather than sifting through hours of computer science web sites.
    If some of this is more complex than to be simply answered just say so and I can look it up.

    I am impatient so I am always trying make my computer run as fast as possible. I defragment, and disk clean almost everyday, along with running Ad-aware and Spybot S&D.
    I've run tests at Pitstop PC and all is good, no problems.

    There are a few things that I don't understand that seem to have an effect on performance, so if someone could help I would be greatful.




    1) I have a 1.7GHz celeron processor, I used a intel utility and it said 400MHz system bus.
    What do these #’s mean?

    2) I hear about over clocking, how do I know if I’m doing this ? How do I make it over clock?


    3) In my windows(XP) task manager it shows CPU usage, sometimes there is red in the graph what does this mean, over clocked?


    4) Is page file usage the amount of memory I am using ? For example I have 640MB of ram, and the page file graph says I’m using 200MB, does this mean I have about 400MB left?
    I thought page file was separate from RAM.


    5) I was playing a game online, playing a small movie, and had about 10 other apps . open and I got it to go to 615MB PF usage . I would never normally have this much going , does this mean there is no need to get more RAM?


    6) What’s this I hear about using processor memory? Or the hard drive ? When you run out of RAM.


    7) Does hard drive free space have anything to do with performance? I have a 40GB HD, I’m using 10GB, would there be any difference if I was using 30GB?
    I remove programs that I don’t use or have not used in a while to save space , is there any point in doing so?

    8) Is there anything I can upgrade for performance?
    I usually only run 1 application at a time other than the background services. I don’t do any video editing , and very little word processing so my main concern is web browsing and occasional online gaming performance.
    I have a gaming profile which put my PF usage to 90MB before game load up, so in game it’s no higher than 500MB PF usage.

    I just got an ATI Radeon 9200 video card. I don’t have an agp slot so this is as good as I could get( other than GeForce5200).
    I can swap out my original 128MB memory for another 512.

    Is anything else (besides a new computer)? like along the lines of simple swaping of $100-$200 parts(not motherboards).

    I don't play games enough to justify a high-end system, usually America's Army at 800X600 with normal settings,
    my ping is always less than 100 and I still only get around 25-30 FPS.

    where is the bottle neck?


    Thanks for your help
     
  2. AZ-Boog

    AZ-Boog

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    get rid of the celeron. That is killing your performance.

    You've got about $200 to spend?

    shopping list here:

    P4 2.26G http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?description=19-116-141&depa=0

    larger, faster hard drive would help also:

    http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?description=22-144-102&depa=0

    How much RAM you got? With XP you should have a minimum of 512M RAM.

    Here you go, get 2 of these to total 512M RAM:

    http://www.newegg.com/app/viewproductdesc.asp?description=20-141-425&DEPA=0

    Obviously all of the above needs to take into consideration what type (brand) of motherboard you have.

    This adds up to roughly $250. A little over your price range, but not much. If $200 is an absolute limit, get the P4 and the RAM.
    This was just a quick and dirty shopping list.
     

  3. BikerGoddess

    BikerGoddess Got hairspray?

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    I'll try my best ;)

    The speed of the processor is how quickly it can manage manipulations, or carry out instructions. THe system bus is how quickly information is sent to the different parts of the computer. Think of it like a city's transportation system - you can take the trolley or the express train; same payload, different arrival times.

    You want your bus speed to be able to keep up with the CPU, otherwise, it sits there waiting for instructions.

    http://computer.howstuffworks.com/question307.htm

    "To show kernel times to add red lines to the CPU Usage and CPU Usage History graphs, click the Performance tab. On the View menu, click Show Kernel Times. The red lines indicate the amount of CPU resources consumed by kernel operations. "

    Paging is when your system uses your hard drive to store stuff that should be in memory. Think of your memory like the top of a desk and paging as a drawer in the desk and your hard drive as a filing cabinet. Everything you're working on would be a piece of paper. You can only put so many pieces of paper on top of the desk at one time - that's physical memory. Stuff you need readily accessible, but that doesn't fit on the desktop is put in the drawer - paging. When you need something in the drawer, you swap it out with something on the desk you don't need right then. Stuff you want to keep is put in the filing cabinet.

    Paging allows your system to think it has more memory than it actually does, but since the hard drive has to be accessed, it's a slower way of doing it than if you had enough physical memory. If you find yourself using a lot of paging memory consistently, you probably want to upgrade your physical memory.

    Memory is a cheap, easy upgrade. It won't cure all ills, but I'd pretty much always start there. Of course, it all depends on if you can live with your current level of performance or not. Not upgrading is free.

    What did you hear? It may be the paging I referred to earlier. Both the processor and hard drive have a cache area that allows them to queue things in order to speed up things. I somehow doubt that's what you want more info on, though.

    It may affect how long it takes to retreive information. If you're doing a lot of paging, it can help, but more memory would be better. If you're doing a lot of work that requires looking up stuff on the hard drive, it can help. But access time is determined more by the seek time of the drive than how much is on it. So, it can help, but probably not enough to be noticable.

    I'd start with memory. Your options on upgrading the CPU without upgrading the motherboard are probably too limited to justify the cost nowadays. Sound might be a bottleneck. You can't upgrade the video, another gaming bottleneck.

    Pings only show you one aspect of application performance. 100ms is actually a fairly long time, but if your application isn't greatly affected by latency, then it means little. What type of Internet access do you have, by the way?

    My advice is start with the memory and see what that does for you. Take specs in when you buy it, as it can make a difference what you get.

    Laura
     
  4. popnfresh

    popnfresh

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    IM845gl Motherboard...... does that mean anything or am I looking for for something else like"Imperial GL VE 20020906"
    on the board itself.



    I'm at 640 MB ram. I could take out 128 and put in another 512




    thank for your reply
     
  5. popnfresh

    popnfresh

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    So I don't care when the graph has red on because it's making corn? and where is my Tab ;f
    Don't go into the kernel it's probley beyond my comprhension.


    Yes thats what I was hearing about using the processor... PAGING.
    So what your saying is if I have a PF reading I'm already using all of my ram ?
    My PF usage says 240MB right now so that means if I get anoth 512MB of ram I should have zero page file usage? and this would speed things up?


    my connection is 100.0 Mbps cable.

    And thanks for the good info.
     
  6. AZ-Boog

    AZ-Boog

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    Your RAM appears to be fine if you're at 640M.

    I would definately consider the P4 2.26G cpu and the larger faster hard drive. Please consult your motherboard documentation as to what processor (cpu) speeds it supports.

    The celeron cpu is the first thing I would replace. Then the hard drive.

    Again, please make sure to consult your motherboard documentation as to what cpu it supports before making any purchases.

    Newegg is a great place to do business with. They have great prices and fast shipping. I get all my stuff there.
     
  7. popnfresh

    popnfresh

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    this is what it says
    "Your motherboard offers the following features:

    Intel Pentium 4 processor in the mPGA 478pin package

    blah

    blah and so on

    In the spec page it says

    "Processor: Intel pentium 4
    400MHz system bus with an intigrated 256kL2 cache

    NOTE: the processor depends on the modelof computer you purchased" I got the cheaper one so its a celeron with 128 L2 cache at 400MHz system bus ;Q

    SO does this mean I can get the processor you suggest If I want ? I don't know what to look for in my documentation.
     
  8. AZ-Boog

    AZ-Boog

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    In the system specs in the documentation it should say something to the effect of:

    "Will support Pentium 4 socket 478 processor at or up to 400MHz and/or 533MHz System bus speed"

    look closer at the "blah blah blah" section. ;)

    It will state what the maximum system bus speed is for the motherboard. Either 400MHz or 400MHz/533MHz.


    The processor I suggested is a 533MHz model. You can still find very good deals on 400MHz processors.

    The main thing is to ditch the celeron cpu. Because of it's limited on-board cache memory, it usually falls far short of cpu's that have 512M onboard cache memory.
     
  9. AZ-Boog

    AZ-Boog

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    I just looked at your system manual. It looks like 400MHz is as far as you can go with this motherboard. Look at the Intel 400MHz P4 processors at Newegg. You can still get a nice cpu for $150 or less. Most of the 400MHz Intel P4's I see listed are
    "OEM". This does NOT come with an Intel HSF (HeatSinkFan) unit. That's the little dealy that sits on top of the cpu and cools it. The OEM version also come with only a 1 year warranty. If you can find one that's a "Retail" version (shows a picture of the P4 Intel box) these come standard with the Intel HSF unit and a full 3 year warranty so it might be worth your while to pursue that as opposed to the OEM version.


    Again, make sure by checking in the documentation what the fastest cpu is that your motherboard can support. You may be limited there as well.

    good luck.
     
  10. popnfresh

    popnfresh

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    OK is there much difference between a 2.6GHz and a 2.0GHz processor at 400MHz and 512k L2 cache?

    The L2 cache is the only difference I can see between a celeron and Pentium 4 is this correct?
     
  11. AZ-Boog

    AZ-Boog

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    Celerons have less on die cache memory. That's pretty much it, but it can make a big difference.

    If your motherboard will support it, go for the 2.6G P4
     
  12. ronin_asano

    ronin_asano

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    that's right. you want as much l2 cache as you can get. that's the first 'ram' your machine uses, the more of it the better.

    a computer is just like a city. the further you have to drive to get to a particular store, the longer it takes.

    l2 cache is your corner 7/11. need some milk and bread, dash right down and get it.

    ram is your wal-mart super center. it holds lots of stuff, but you have to go further to get it.

    page file is your warehouse for over stock and little used items, and they take the longest to retrieve.

    the longer it takes to store and retrieve information, the slower the machine, no matter what the clock speed or fsb is.

    of course, with a higher clock and fsb, you make the trip to walmart or the warehouse faster. think driving at 45mph vs driving at 90mph, but the distance doesn't change, and even at 90mph it takes longer to get to wal-mart ram than it does to hit the l2 7/11.

    does that help?
     
  13. Tennessee Slim

    Tennessee Slim Señor Member CLM

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    And you shouldn’t underestimate how much the speed of your hard drive will affect the whole system. The HDD is the only component in the entire data processing chain of events with moving parts. I’ve seen estimates that the HDD is the slowest component by a factor of 30,000!!

    Look for an 8MB cache. You’ll be surprised how much faster that one change can make your system.
     
  14. popnfresh

    popnfresh

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    Alright now I understand how this works somewhat. Good explanations.
    My next purchase will be the 2.6 GHz P4 processor.

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge guys
     
  15. fastvfr

    fastvfr Ancient Tech

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    Popnfresh;

    Unfortunately, you won't be able to game worth a darn on your finished system, even with all the RAM it can hold and the best HDD out there.

    Your board simply does not support an Accelerated Graphics Port.

    PCI runs at 33MB/s; AGP doubles that.

    That is the reason for your lousy framerates in AAO, and even the best PCI 128MB card isn't going to help much at all.

    Your ATI 9200 is quite a bit better than a 5200. Drivers for nVidia are generally considered better, but your 9200 is just plain faster. If it wasn't for that PCI-based solution, you could do pretty well, but since the bandwidth from the CPU to your card is halved....well...

    Let me put it this way. You said you are going to put some money into a new CPU and maybe a motherboard. Why bother paying more than twice what you need to in order to fight bottlenecks?

    Newer, better looking games are coming out all the time, including expansions and upgrades for existing games. These are all more CPU/video intensive in nature, so you need a better PC to do them justice, obviously.

    By spending a little more money and doing things the right way, your machine will be much faster - meaning that, even while GT'ing, you'll get far better performance by virtue of the fact that your anti-virus and spyware apps won't be taking up such a large percentage of your proc's time and effort.

    Better still, you would be using all new components, thus making a parts failure due to age or wear & tear much less likely; and you can use your present drives in a new machine.

    Most people feel the way you do about 'splurging' on a powerful machine when they feel they won't use all its potential, but most everyone I work with (I build PC's for a living) eventually opts for a high-end custom machine in the end, because the costs involved in maintaining an old PC mean that you pay for a new one and yet are stuck with an old POS that will eventually cost up to $5000 total, given its original price and all the upgrades that were required just so it could keep up.

    I would like to save you that frustration if I am able.

    Why not buy one piece of a new PC this payday, and one part every month thereafter? Within a year you will have a backup PC and a new 'screamer' that you will enjoy for years to come. One that will not bog down under pest-control applications like yours will.

    Most folks do their best to keep their old $2000 HP running forever, until they finally realize that they were being penny-wise and pound-foolish; that's when they have me set them up with a decent rig.

    Good luck,

    FastVFR
     
  16. NetNinja

    NetNinja Always Faithful

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