What needed for meaningful improvement?

  hatrickj 07:52 19 Nov 2009

I bought my current computer nearly seven years ago and am debating with myself if it is time for an upgrade. My main activities ( random order) are email, surfing, forums, office activities ( word, excel), photo editing and slideshow preparation, no games.

The basic Spec of the current machine is
"AMD Athlon XP 2400+ 2.00 GHz 1.GB RAM
80GB Hard disk, running XP Home SP3".

TBH I am finding matters confusing.
What is the improvement in having dual core processing; had my current model benefitted from that would the 2400+ have been increased to a larger number? 64bit seems to be common now, but has it any benefits for my usage? Will I benefit from Windows7?

So in all I would appreciate as much advice as you can give to asuitable spec to give me a meaningful but cost effective improvement over the present set up. Please>

  Pineman100 09:09 19 Nov 2009

What is it about your current computer that makes you think it needs an upgrade? Is it rather sluggish?

For your purposes, there's actually no reason at all why you should need an upgrade - expect perhaps a bit of extra memory could help if you're creating large slideshows. If the computer has got slow, then it's probably clogged up with temporary files, redundant DLLs and all the general dross the Windows accumulates over time.

I should try a Spring clean, first of all. If you haven't already got it, download the free Ccleaner (click here), and run it to clean up your files and your registry. After that, run a defrag.

That should make a fair bit of difference, but if you want to take the clean-up to the ultimate, then a full reinstall of Windows would be best. Make sure, of course, that you save all your data to an external drive of some sort first.

To upgrade the RAM, go to Crucial's website and run their memory scanner (click here
). This will tell you exactly what memory modules to order. In their Support section you'll also find a video tutorial on how to install the modules. It's cheap and easy.

  hatrickj 09:48 19 Nov 2009

@ Pineman100 Thanks for advice. I have already done as you suggest, and actually had a reinstall just a few months ago. However I seem to be getting random troubles including BSODs, and it does still feel sluggish. As to RAM and HDD I think there may be limitations as to whay can be dome. For instance the biggest HDD the MB supports is 160.

@all If I still decide to go the new computer path. Your comments including those on the tech pints in the OP will be welcomed. :)

  gazzaho 10:11 19 Nov 2009

All of what Pineman100 says is correct, if your current machine is doing the job then a clean out may be all that is necessary, from the list you mention the only real improvement you may gain from a new computer is the photo editing. The question should be do you want a new computer.

If you're interested in a new machine then a dual core or quad core would work much faster at processing the photo editing you mention. A dual core has, in essence 2 computers on the same chip, this can help with processing large photo images.

64-bit computing isn't important at the moment, most computers and software still work with the 32-bit architecture, but it is the future. 64-bit will allow you to add a lot more RAM to your system, somewhere in the region of 8GB to 192GB where Windows 7 is concerned, depending on which version of the OS you use. The thing is 32-bit software and hardware don't really benefit from it at the moment, 32-bit software can only address 2-3GB of ram and 32-bit Windows is similar, the maximum it can address is 4GB total.

Windows 7 is more refined than any other version of Windows, will you benefit from it? Perhaps not on the computer you use now depending on the hardware installed. I myself find it a vast improvement over Vista in all respects, boot times are amazing compared to Vista on my machine, but I have a Quad core with 4GB RAM and a good spec graphics card.

If going for a new machine then it would be smart to go for Windows 7 64-bit and 4GB RAM minimum, this would give a reasonable future proof option, however with older software you may need to upgrade them for 64-bit and this might be costly, the photo editing software you use may not work on a 64-bit system for instance.

  donki 10:24 19 Nov 2009

Have you ventured inside your case ever, checked the fans / heatsink for dust, just an idea.

If you know your PSU rating you could maybe save a few quid buy just getting a new motherboard bundle and harddisk.

Bundle - click here

HD - click here

All for about £160 and is a good spec for what you need, you would notive a tremendus difference. Use your 80GB drive as your windows partition, install everything else on the new one. Or just buy a copy of WIN7 and start completely fresh.

  Pineman100 18:30 19 Nov 2009

The above comments from gazzaho and donki are much more knowledgeable than mine would be.

All I would say is - don't try running W7 on your existing computer. Its spec is just not up to the demands.

  norman47 19:23 19 Nov 2009

"So in all I would appreciate as much advice as you can give to asuitable spec to give me a meaningful but cost effective improvement over the present set up. Please>"

If you upgraded the memory, ddr is expensive and upgraded the hard drive. You could be looking at well over £100, nearly £200.

If you have a full Xp disk you could consider this.click here A intel dual core cpu will give you a 5.6Ghz cpu with 4Mb of prefetch cache i.e. 2Mb for each core. The 4Gb of faster memory would open and shut programs much faster and the 500Gb SATA11 hard drive will load windows and use applications much faster than the old hard drive. Your old hard drive is probably 100MB/s, new SATA 11 drives have a max of 300MB/s

  DieSse 20:36 19 Nov 2009

In your current system, it may benefit from a graphics card update, especially if it uses on-board graphics now.

What does it currently have?

  hatrickj 21:01 19 Nov 2009

@donki. Yes I did once with help of my much younger than I Son in law. I have to left feet on the right hand syndrome.

  hatrickj 21:06 19 Nov 2009

@ DieSse
Tul Corporation, RADEON 9200 SE

  DieSse 21:59 19 Nov 2009

mmm - not sure - it could be upgraded, but not hugely.

I suspect a good clearout of temporary/waste files (I use Wise Disk Cleaner) and a dfrag if you haven't done one for a long time.

If you're using a load-sapping AV, or running too many programs in the background, then attending to them may help.

I use a "getting on" P4 2.4GHz - 1 GB RAM - GeF6200 graphics - Eset Security Suite - and most people think I've got a decently fast system. I know the new systems are noticeably faster - but if you can get your current one into reasonable shape for housekeeping, it'll last longer.

When I run Puppy Linux on it, it really blazes along!!

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