Speed up a cheap computer

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Speed up a cheap computer

Post by Korto » 2016-08-31 11:12pm

Bought my kid a cheap ex-rental computer; unfortunately he won't use it, possibly because it's too slow (it is noticeably slow).
It's a Dell 780 Desktop PC Computer, with 2GB DDR3 Ram, 80GB Sata Drive, and Win7 Pre-Installed.
My suspect is the ram. I've pulled the chips out, they're 2 x 1gb PC3-10600U-09-10-A0. I can pick up 4gb (2 X ELPIDA 2GB 2RX8 PC3-10600U DDR3 RAM). Is this my best starting point?

Most of the boy's computer time is on-line, playing small kiddie games.
It's important all this stays 'cheap and easy'. I'm not paying big sums for a seven year old who tends to bash equipment when the game's beating him.
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Re: Speed up a cheap computer

Post by madd0ct0r » 2016-08-31 11:31pm

I assume you did a deep defrag first?
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Re: Speed up a cheap computer

Post by madd0ct0r » 2016-08-31 11:46pm

Damn. Mussed window. I reccomend windirstart for seeibg what is using ip memory too
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Re: Speed up a cheap computer

Post by Jub » 2016-09-01 12:36am

More and faster RAM is cheap and can't hurt. Beyond that, I'd wipe it and put a clean windows install onto the machine. From there carefully control what programs you have open on startup and that's as fast as you're going to get it.

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Re: Speed up a cheap computer

Post by Terralthra » 2016-09-01 12:48am

What is the processor/architecture?

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Re: Speed up a cheap computer

Post by Executor32 » 2016-09-01 04:32am

It's a Core 2 Duo, probably a 2 GHz model. Definitely nowhere close to the head of the pack these days, but it should at least be usable for web browsing/schoolwork. Your best starting point would be more RAM, as you surmised. The Optiplex 780's motherboard will support up to 8GB, and I'd max it out because you can get DDR3 dirt-cheap these days, even taking the Australia Tax into account; CPL has 4GB Kingston sticks for AU$26 each. Another suggestion that'd make a massive difference would be to replace the hard drive with an SSD; you can get a 120GB Samsung 750 EVO for AU$67 at CPL. Even if you don't go that route and just upgrade the RAM, I'd definitely reinstall Windows because it's probably 32-bit, and you'll need 64-bit to make use of the additional RAM if you go with 8GB.
どうして?お前が夜に自身お触れるから。
Long ago in a distant land, I, Aku, the shape-shifting Master of Darkness, unleashed an unspeakable evil,
but a foolish samurai warrior wielding a magic sword stepped forth to oppose me. Before the final blow
was struck, I tore open a portal in time and flung him into the future, where my evil is law! Now, the fool
seeks to return to the past, and undo the future that is Aku...
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Re: Speed up a cheap computer

Post by Starglider » 2016-09-01 05:09am

It's probably a combination of low RAM causing the operating system to 'swap' to disk, and a slow cheap junky hard drive. More RAM should help, but as Executor says you can get a low-end solid state drive for $40 these days, and the software to clone the existing drive onto the SSD is free.

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Re: Speed up a cheap computer

Post by Korto » 2016-09-01 06:57am

Defrag...? Uhhh, OF COURSE I've done a defrag! Uhh, is that my wife calling? Gotta go!
...
<Time Passes>
...
Anyway, fragmentation was only 6%, but did it anyway, then ran Spybot, which got rid of 30+ low-rated nuisances, and then ran Malwarebyte because a website reckoned spybot was crap. It found one more thing... the Spybot installer. It seemed quite offended when I told it not to worry about removing it from the downloads folder. It's running noticeably quicker, but still a bit stilted.
PS - What's a 'deep' defrag?

The processor is Intel Core 2 Duo CPU E7500 @ 2.93GHz
The architecture is, dunno, kinda Brutalism? With a spot of Art deco?

The windows version is Win7 Professional 64 bit, which came pre-installed, without any disks.

It doesn't seem to be running anything untoward, as far as I can tell. The startup is:
PIconStartup.exe
smax4pnp.exe
and now 2 spybot things

The services are all Microsoft, Intel, and now a couple from Spybot and Malware.

The ram though--after overheads all that's left of the 2gb is 330mb, which is just sad.

I've also got a 500gb hdd hanging around from a previous computer of his which stopped working for god knows why, also with a pre-installed Win 7 Professional 64bit. I'm thinking I might rip out the 80gb and stick that in.
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Re: Speed up a cheap computer

Post by TheFeniX » 2016-09-01 12:22pm

2GB is the minimum RAM for a 64-bit installation of W7. 4GB would do you well for any kind of basic use and multi-tasking. 8GBs is more for specialized tasks. Hell, my work computer only has 4GBs and I mess around with AutoCAD and Photoshop. My bottleneck, when it exists, has always been my HDD. I also don't work with mega-huge files. But, as said: your model of RAM is stupid cheap these days.

For any and all tasks, an SSD is a rather large improvement, but the cost per GB is still much higher. However, as said: 120GB models are in the $40 range and that's more than enough space for windows and most the apps you would run. A secondary HDD is always a plus and you already have one.

Judging from your OP: your bottleneck is most definitely your RAM and possibly a HDD being forced to load all kinds of OEM and downloaded crap. A fresh install, using an OEM CD (you can download them for free and either burn a DVD or boot via a formatted USB drive if your BIOS supports it). This would do you well even if you forgo an SSD.

I would preemptively download your NIC drivers from DELL's website though as sometimes even W7 won't pick them up. This way, you'll at least have Internet access to download any other drivers you would need.

EDIT: Performance monitor is a good thing to have up while tracking this. Funny enough through my own testing: Windows uses more RAM by default if you only have 2GBs than if you have 4 (or even 3). On a fresh install, I've seen W7 use 1.5GB of my 2, yet when 4GBs was installed: default RAM usage was anywhere from 800MBs to 1.2GBs. Usually around 1GB.

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Re: Speed up a cheap computer

Post by Zaune » 2016-09-01 01:02pm

You might also consider replacing Win 7 with one of the leaner and meaner Linux distros. The looming spectre of Windows 10 aside, I had a basically similar Dell desktop for a while and on Windows 7 it would use most of a gigabyte of RAM just idling at the desktop. (Admittedly with Skype, Dropbox and some other programs your kid probably doesn't need yet running in the background.) Lubuntu, my current OS, uses about half to two thirds of that. Fewer worries about malware as well.
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Re: Speed up a cheap computer

Post by General Zod » 2016-09-03 02:45pm

What sort of motherboard do you have? It's going to have an upper-limit for how much ram it can support and you'll need to know the mobo model number before you go out buying new chips willy nilly.

If you run dxdiag and system information it should give you all the model information you need.

Also you may want to update your bios. Chances are good that you won't need to but you'll want to check to see if there's been any updates.
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Re: Speed up a cheap computer

Post by Executor32 » 2016-09-05 03:18am

Already covered that in my first post. ;) The Optiplex 780 motherboard supports a max of 8 GB of DDR3.

+1 for updating the BIOS, though. There probably hasn't been a new BIOS update for it for the better part of a decade, but it never hurts to check as most people tend to be even less vigilant about updating their BIOS than they are about updating drivers, which is to say not at all.
どうして?お前が夜に自身お触れるから。
Long ago in a distant land, I, Aku, the shape-shifting Master of Darkness, unleashed an unspeakable evil,
but a foolish samurai warrior wielding a magic sword stepped forth to oppose me. Before the final blow
was struck, I tore open a portal in time and flung him into the future, where my evil is law! Now, the fool
seeks to return to the past, and undo the future that is Aku...
-Aku, Master of Masters, Deliverer of Darkness, Shogun of Sorrow

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Re: Speed up a cheap computer

Post by Korto » 2016-09-11 07:23am

Well, stuck 4gb more memory in it today.
I was going to pull the 2gb it already had out before sticking the 4 in, because I had this idea that memory had to be in, like, binary amounts--you know, 1, 2, 4, 8gb. Then I thought about it and realised I'd never heard that anywhere, it was just the voices in my head or something.
Yep, definitely seems to be running a chunk better now on 6gb

I also had a 160gb hdd I was going to put in. The boy uses his mother's computer a lot, so I figured what I would do was clone his mother hdd onto the 160, and it would make for an easier change-over. Her hdd is 500gb, but she's only used about 90 of it, so would still fit, but I would have to clone the partitions over individually for it to work. This was using Aoemi Backupper.
Anyway...the partitions copied over fine, the Systems partition, and the main one, but now the computer reads the two partitions as two separate drives, C and D, and it wont boot off the damn thing. It's really annoying. Anyone got any ideas how to fix it without having to reformat the whole thing and starting over?

Edit: Just had a thought. It's the System partition that it calls C:, and the main partition is D: What would happen if I made the main partition C:, or otherwise told it to boot off D: ? I don't really know what that System partition was for, it just had itself locked off aside like it thought it was important.
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Re: Speed up a cheap computer

Post by General Zod » 2016-09-11 09:57pm

You can just go into the bios and change the boot sequence. There should be an option to pick which drive letter to boot off of.
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Re: Speed up a cheap computer

Post by Zaune » 2016-09-11 10:18pm

Korto wrote:Well, stuck 4gb more memory in it today.
I was going to pull the 2gb it already had out before sticking the 4 in, because I had this idea that memory had to be in, like, binary amounts--you know, 1, 2, 4, 8gb. Then I thought about it and realised I'd never heard that anywhere, it was just the voices in my head or something.
I vaguely remember advice to that effect in an issue of PC Zone circa 1994, but if it was an issue back in the good old days it certainly isn't now.
There are hardly any excesses of the most crazed psychopath that cannot easily be duplicated by a normal kindly family man who just comes in to work every day and has a job to do.
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Replace "ginger" with "n*gger," and suddenly it become a lot less funny, doesn't it?
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Re: Speed up a cheap computer

Post by General Zod » 2016-09-12 12:10pm

Zaune wrote:
Korto wrote:Well, stuck 4gb more memory in it today.
I was going to pull the 2gb it already had out before sticking the 4 in, because I had this idea that memory had to be in, like, binary amounts--you know, 1, 2, 4, 8gb. Then I thought about it and realised I'd never heard that anywhere, it was just the voices in my head or something.
I vaguely remember advice to that effect in an issue of PC Zone circa 1994, but if it was an issue back in the good old days it certainly isn't now.
It's actually mentioned in A+ certification books. Different ram has different voltage and timing, so if you use the wrong combination of chips you can cause problems. But in general it's good practice to stick with the same make and model of ram chips when you upgrade. Mixing a 2gb and 1gb chip should be okay as long as it's the same make and model, in other words.
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Re: Speed up a cheap computer

Post by TheFeniX » 2016-09-12 01:18pm

Zaune wrote:
Korto wrote:Well, stuck 4gb more memory in it today.
I was going to pull the 2gb it already had out before sticking the 4 in, because I had this idea that memory had to be in, like, binary amounts--you know, 1, 2, 4, 8gb. Then I thought about it and realised I'd never heard that anywhere, it was just the voices in my head or something.
I vaguely remember advice to that effect in an issue of PC Zone circa 1994, but if it was an issue back in the good old days it certainly isn't now.
That would have been because most RAM was SIMM back then and required two (or more sometimes) modules to fill the bus. With the types of sticks being sold (1MB, 2MB, etc) and that kind of math, you're going to get even numbers. That mentality would stick around for more than a few years.

Paring RAM still holds true today in certain instances: Dual-channel and ECC RAM requiring matching pairs for just two examples. Even then, I'm sure you could find a few 1.5GBs sticks to pair up. The Asus I bought had 9GBs. They just popped a 1GB stick at the end for reasons I can't begin to fathom. The PC was even advertised as 8GBs IIRC... so, score?

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Re: Speed up a cheap computer

Post by Executor32 » 2016-09-13 02:34am

Korto wrote:Well, stuck 4gb more memory in it today.
I was going to pull the 2gb it already had out before sticking the 4 in, because I had this idea that memory had to be in, like, binary amounts--you know, 1, 2, 4, 8gb. Then I thought about it and realised I'd never heard that anywhere, it was just the voices in my head or something.
Yep, definitely seems to be running a chunk better now on 6gb

I also had a 160gb hdd I was going to put in. The boy uses his mother's computer a lot, so I figured what I would do was clone his mother hdd onto the 160, and it would make for an easier change-over. Her hdd is 500gb, but she's only used about 90 of it, so would still fit, but I would have to clone the partitions over individually for it to work. This was using Aoemi Backupper.
Anyway...the partitions copied over fine, the Systems partition, and the main one, but now the computer reads the two partitions as two separate drives, C and D, and it wont boot off the damn thing. It's really annoying. Anyone got any ideas how to fix it without having to reformat the whole thing and starting over?

Edit: Just had a thought. It's the System partition that it calls C:, and the main partition is D: What would happen if I made the main partition C:, or otherwise told it to boot off D: ? I don't really know what that System partition was for, it just had itself locked off aside like it thought it was important.
Assuming nothing else went wrong with the cloning process, it sounds like the problem is that the system partition isn't set as active. Here's how to fix that:
  1. Boot to a Windows install disk, then when you get to the Install Windows screen, hit Shift+F10 to open a command prompt.
  2. Type diskpart and hit Enter.
  3. Once the prompt changes to DISKPART>, type list disk and hit Enter. It'll list all the disks connected to the computer, including flash drives.
  4. Find your 160 GB (149 GiB, which is what Windows uses for GB) drive in the list, and take note of the disk number in the leftmost column.
  5. Type select disk X, where X is the disk number from the previous step, and hit Enter.
  6. Type list partition and hit Enter. This will list all the partitions on the currently selected disk.
  7. Find the system partition in the list (it should be the first one, probably 100MB in size) and take note of its partition number.
  8. Type select partition X, where X is the partition number from the previous step, and hit Enter.
  9. Finally, type active and hit Enter. This will set the system partition as active so the BIOS will recognize it as bootable and try to boot from it.
  10. You can now close the command prompt and reboot, and it should now properly boot into Windows.
Having a system partition and a main partition is the normal state for NT-based Windows, e.g. everything XP and up. On MBR-partitioned disks, Windows will create a 100MB system partition during installation, which is set as the active partition and contains the bootloader and boot configuration data (BCD). The bootloader looks at the BCD and loads the Windows installation specified therein.
どうして?お前が夜に自身お触れるから。
Long ago in a distant land, I, Aku, the shape-shifting Master of Darkness, unleashed an unspeakable evil,
but a foolish samurai warrior wielding a magic sword stepped forth to oppose me. Before the final blow
was struck, I tore open a portal in time and flung him into the future, where my evil is law! Now, the fool
seeks to return to the past, and undo the future that is Aku...
-Aku, Master of Masters, Deliverer of Darkness, Shogun of Sorrow

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Re: Speed up a cheap computer

Post by Korto » 2016-09-14 08:40am

Well, Executor, I followed what you said, all step by step, and everything went as you said--diskpart, select disk 0, select partitian 1, made it active, started it back up and...it didn't work. No change.
So I did some looking, learnt about Startup Repair, ran that and...it didn't work.
So I tried a few Bootrec.exe commands (fixmbr, fixboot, rebuildbcd). Nope, nope, nope.
Tried fiddling around with bios, change it from AHCI to ATA to legacy. Nothing.
Also ran chkdsk /f on C: and D:

Startup repair diagnosis is reporting an error code 0x490, and a mention of bad driver.
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Re: Speed up a cheap computer

Post by Executor32 » 2016-09-14 02:18pm

I've run into this before when cloning, 0x490 is an error you'll see if the bootloader and/or BCD weren't copied over correctly. It's relatively easy to fix, though:
  1. First, change the SATA mode back to AHCI. Windows 7 and earlier won't boot if it's set to a different mode than when Windows was installed.
  2. Now, follow my previous instructions through step 8.
  3. Instead of following step 9, type delete partition and hit Enter.
  4. Type create partition primary and hit Enter. This should create a new partition in the space freed up by the previous step, assuming there isn't any other unallocated space on the drive. You can double-check by typing list partition again.
  5. Type format fs=fat32 label="System" quick and hit Enter.
  6. Type assign letter=c and hit Enter.
  7. Type active and hit Enter.
  8. We're done with diskpart now, so type exit and hit Enter to return to the main command prompt.
  9. Finally, type bcdboot d:\windows /s c: /f BIOS and hit Enter. This will write a new Windows bootloader and BCD to the empty partition created in the preceding steps.
  10. Reboot, and Windows should load now. Nine times out of ten, this has succeeded where the procedure in my previous post has failed me.
どうして?お前が夜に自身お触れるから。
Long ago in a distant land, I, Aku, the shape-shifting Master of Darkness, unleashed an unspeakable evil,
but a foolish samurai warrior wielding a magic sword stepped forth to oppose me. Before the final blow
was struck, I tore open a portal in time and flung him into the future, where my evil is law! Now, the fool
seeks to return to the past, and undo the future that is Aku...
-Aku, Master of Masters, Deliverer of Darkness, Shogun of Sorrow

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Re: Speed up a cheap computer

Post by Korto » 2016-09-15 08:52am

No dice. No change, and I tried it twice. Despite it reporting success in everything you said to do, the computer still won't boot.

Interesting items:
1) The new partitian was 99mb in size, not 100
2) There is apparently no /f for bcdboot in Win 7. It balked when I used it, and it wasn't listed on the help screen for the command. The command I used therefore was without the /f BIOS
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Re: Speed up a cheap computer

Post by Executor32 » 2016-09-15 12:23pm

Any change in the error message given, or is it still 0x490?

And yeah, I forgot Windows 7 doesn't have a UEFI bootloader option to make that switch necessary. :oops:
どうして?お前が夜に自身お触れるから。
Long ago in a distant land, I, Aku, the shape-shifting Master of Darkness, unleashed an unspeakable evil,
but a foolish samurai warrior wielding a magic sword stepped forth to oppose me. Before the final blow
was struck, I tore open a portal in time and flung him into the future, where my evil is law! Now, the fool
seeks to return to the past, and undo the future that is Aku...
-Aku, Master of Masters, Deliverer of Darkness, Shogun of Sorrow

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Re: Speed up a cheap computer

Post by Korto » 2016-09-16 05:06am

Huh, you're right. I didn't notice because the way it was failing was still the same. The error code from Startup Repair (Diagnosis and Repair Details) has changed.

It no longer has one. It's all 0x0.

It does say "A recent driver installation or upgrade may be preventing the system from starting", which seems like just what it says because everyone's looking at it and it's embarressed.
I'll run the test again, to double-check.


Nope. It's saying 0x490 again. Oh well.
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Re: Speed up a cheap computer

Post by Executor32 » 2016-09-16 12:58pm

It could be that a driver for something didn't copy over correctly during the clone, so when Windows tries to load it, it can't and it throws up that error. I'd just re-clone it at this point, and I'd suggest using Macrium Reflect to do it as it's what I use at work, I've rarely run into troubles cloning with it, and it's free. Install it on another computer, then run it and go to Other Tasks -> Create Rescue Media to create a bootable DVD or USB.

Once you've got the Macrium PE rescue disc booted, click the Disk Image tab, then click the source disk (the 500 GB), followed by "Clone this disk...". In the new window that pops up, click "Select a disk to clone to...", select the destination disk (the 160 GB), then click Finish to begin cloning.

If Macrium runs into a bad sector or other read error, it'll stop cloning and throw up an error message, rather than continuing and making you think everything worked fine, like I suspect happened with Aoemi. If it does that to you, you'll have to open a command prompt (no need to reboot to your Windows disc, there's a shortcut right on the taskbar in Macrium PE), and run chkdsk /f /r, then try cloning again when it finishes.
どうして?お前が夜に自身お触れるから。
Long ago in a distant land, I, Aku, the shape-shifting Master of Darkness, unleashed an unspeakable evil,
but a foolish samurai warrior wielding a magic sword stepped forth to oppose me. Before the final blow
was struck, I tore open a portal in time and flung him into the future, where my evil is law! Now, the fool
seeks to return to the past, and undo the future that is Aku...
-Aku, Master of Masters, Deliverer of Darkness, Shogun of Sorrow

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Re: Speed up a cheap computer

Post by Korto » 2016-09-18 10:47am

Update:

Fuck that bloody piece of shit goddamn hard-drive with a rusty barbed-wire dildo! :finger:
After going and installing the new cloning software, hooking the drive back to my wife's computer, re-cloning the whole bloody thing and hooking it back up to the boy's, NO FUCKING CHANGE! Still won't bloody boot, same error message, even went through to check it was active, delete and recopy the boot files (as you suggested above), and absolutely bloody nothing.
I've re-installed the 80gb drive, and my boy's happy enough using that.

Thanks for your help, Executor. Maybe sometime later I'll re-visit the bloody thing, but right now I've had it with it.
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