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Sluggish machine: do I need a RAM upgrade

Discussion in 'Computer Systems' started by Fat Tony, Jan 25, 2012.

  1. Fat Tony

    Fat Tony Member

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    I have a home-built PC (thanks to the great folk on these forums :clap:) and it is now 18 months old and feels sluggish. I know that happens over time as you load more and more programs, but was wondering if an increase in RAM from 6gb to say 12gb would make a worthwhile difference, as it is fairly cheap?

    I have a Asus P6X58D-E motherboard with 3 x 2gb modules of RAM (Corsair DDR3 1600MHz) and am running Windows 7 Professional 64bit.

    Also, I have 3 RAM slots remaining, should I try and fill that with the same (or as close to the same) memory that I can find, or would it be better say to stick in a 1 x 6gb module?

    Thanks, in advance.
  2. Fat Tony

    Fat Tony Member

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    Shoot - I meant to post this in the Memory sub-forum :rolleyes:.
    How do I move this, or can only Mods do this?
  3. m0t0k0

    m0t0k0 Member

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    I think mods have to move it.

    Could you try to describe how your system feels sluggish? How is it different from before?

    If you could post up the speck of your system we could give a better diagnostic as to where your problems are.

    6GB of RAM is a huge amount already and moving to 12 will not give you any advantage (assuming your just using it for gaming / everyday use)

    What ever you do you want RAM in multiples of 3 as you have a triple channel board (If you have only 3 stick make sure they are all is slots which are the same colour)

    You could try removing any unwanted programs, de-fragging your HDD and running a registry cleaner like ccleaner.

    But I think if you don't have one already have one the biggest improvement you will see would be to get an SSD
  4. spyder viewer

    spyder viewer Moderator

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    I also think that the amount of ram you have is not the issue. Quickest would be a fresh install of windows. Also, go into msconfig and turn off things that are loaded at startup that you don't use very often.

    I'm moving you to general computers: they'll sort you out!
  5. Fat Tony

    Fat Tony Member

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    Thanks M0t0k0 and spyder viewer.

    System information is (taken from Windows Experience Index page):

    Base Score = 5.9 (determined by lowest subscore)

    Component Details Subscore
    Processor Intel(R) Core(TM) i7 CPU 920 @ 2.67GHz = 7.5
    Memory (RAM) 6.00 GB = 7.5
    Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 = 7.5
    Gaming graphics 3835 MB Total available graphics memory = 7.5
    Primary hard disk 650GB Free (931GB Total) = 5.9

    Windows 7 Professional 64bit

    System
    Manufacturer System manufacturer
    Model System Product Name
    Total amount of system memory 6.00 GB RAM
    System type 64-bit operating system
    Number of processor cores 4

    Storage
    Total size of hard disk(s) 931 GB
    Disk partition: 650 GB Free (931 GB Total)

    Graphics
    Display adapter type NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460
    Total available graphics memory 3835 MB
    Dedicated graphics memory 1024 MB
    Dedicated system memory 0 MB
    Shared system memory 2811 MB
    Display adapter driver version 8.17.12.9053
    Primary monitor resolution 1920x1080
    DirectX version DirectX 10​

    I do run CCleaner every week or two and try to remove (uninstall) uneccessary programs or at least remove from start-up (but I'm not very confident in this area as I don't know what all the programs are). I also defrag every few months or so (even though the utility suggests one is not necessary).

    I cannot pin down when the slowdown happened ... it's just gradually got worse. I just know that when it was freshly built it booted up very quickly and the time elapsed to when the HDD-busy light went off was at least half what it is now.

    I don't really want to reinstall Windows as that will mean a few days getting it back to full use (including reinstalling SP1, all other programs and getting all updates, etc).

    I will forget the RAM upgrade, as that was more wishful thinking! I'd be grateful for any more tips or pointers to (freeware) programs that will keep my system efficient and highlight any issues/factors slowing it down.
  6. m0t0k0

    m0t0k0 Member

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    Any PC is going to slow down over time and I think part of that will be in our heads and unfortunately it is a hard one to measure.

    You could maybe ensure your BIOS setting are all optimal. Disks set to AHCI mode RAM running at specified timings/speed.

    You already have a top notch system and the slowest component is going to be the HDD. Upgrading to a 30 or 60GB SSD would make a massive difference to how your PC feels and responds. (I can stand using any other PCs other than my own now as they just feel so slow, I have pretty much the same speck as you + an SSD)

    Another benefit to this would be forcing you to de a fresh install which unless your upgrading really would not be worth it.

    Somthing like this would be ideal OCZ Vertex 2E 60GB 2.5" SATA-II Solid State Hard Drive (OCZSSD2-2VTXE60G) []
    Install just you OS and your favourite programs/game on the SSD then put all your other data on you HDD
  7. bryanchicken

    bryanchicken Member

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    I assume you are regularly defragging your main disk?
    After periods of use Windows does tend to get bogged down, its a "feature" of windows as you don't get the same thing with Linux based OSes.

    Before upgrading your RAM i would check how much is being used at periods of sluggishness. Start "Task Manager" and go to the performance tab. If you want added detail click the "Resource Monitor" button.
    If you PC is sluggish but you have RAM to spare then no benefit of upgrading RAM.
  8. spyder viewer

    spyder viewer Moderator

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    Unless you have turned it off, autodefrag is enabled by default. Is the machine taking longer just to get the desktop up or do you mean to get a game or browser open? Have you considered only going into standby instead of powering off? A new machine would only consume a few watts in standby and would turn on in a few seconds.

    Turn on the cpu/memory gadget to monitor useage. Also, do you have things like Adobe Reader, Java, Flash, Skype loading at startup? What power settings do you have? Low power will throttle back the cpu.
  9. davemackenzie

    davemackenzie Member

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    I would recommend a fresh install, I do one every 6 months, Use Acronis True Image to backup any sensitive data etc, Remember that Windows has a habit of creating orphan files over time, spreading the index over a field of litter, the reg becomes conflicted the list goes on....
    Your PC is a very good spec, I would also say that manually defragging won't have much difference as Spyder said, windows has it set automatically, What's your average start up time?
  10. Sinbadio

    Sinbadio Member

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    Seems like everyone in the forum has pitched on on this thread lol May as well do the same! Seeing as you haven't really specified why its slow and whether its while using the PC or booting up no one can really help other than suggesting everything under the sun. If I was you I'd just get a SSD with enough memory to get a copy of windows and some essential programs, that would improve speed over all aspects of using your PC!
  11. RandomLee

    RandomLee Active Member

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    You really shouldn't have to buy anything new just to make it run like it used to.

    You can do things like remove start-up entries (go Start>Run and then type MSConfig) and clean out old programs and registry entries with CCleaner etc but that will only do so much. I would go with davemackenzie and m0t0k0's suggestions - Back up all your personal files and do a fresh Windows install. As already mentioned, it's good practice to do this roughly once every 6 months.

    While you're doing so also open it up and make sure everything is clean and not clogged up with dust / pet hair etc. Even after a few months mine can look like one of ZZ Top's beards! It won't affect system speed but if you're giving the OS a spring clean then you may as well do the hardware too.
  12. Sinbadio

    Sinbadio Member

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    Not sure if its already enabled but it doesn't mentioned it in the system info but is Hyper Threading being used? Would speed things ups if it isn't already! But yeah you should need anything new with a system like that. Its definitely a HDD issue but you shouldn't be experiencing any slow Downs yet with your configuration! What Hard Drive are you using, could be just down to the drive itself. You said that you defrag every 3 months or so and use Ccleaner, after performaning these clean up task does the system seem faster?
  13. MikeTV

    MikeTV Active Member

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    And don't use Norton or McAfee or any other third party virus or anti-malware programs. Just use windows security essentials and windows firewall. It can make a huge difference.
  14. Fat Tony

    Fat Tony Member

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    Thanks all - that is really appreciated! Sorry, for the apparent lack of response ... I've have been away.

    I have recently deleted as much as I dare from opening at start-up and that seems to have helped a bit. I've also opened up the case and sucked up dust, without actually physically touching anything ( ... made no difference, but it can't do any harm!).

    MikeTV - I am using MS Security Essentials, Windows firewall and also have Avast! Free Antivirus running. Should I remove the latter - is is completely superfluous?

    Going by everyone's comments (and I'm glad you all seem to concur), I will consider a fresh install every 6 months and also maybe getting SSD for the OS, when funds permit. One question - how can I speed up the fresh installation time for everything, including getting Windows 7 Professional with SP1 and all latest updates? My original software DVDs are pretty old now and pre SP1, so the updates will take ages.

    Thanks
  15. MikeTV

    MikeTV Active Member

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    I'm not an Avast expert, but MSE contains a virus checker (and anti-malware), and so yes, I strongly suspect it's superfluous. None of the virus checkers are 100% bulletproof, and something may slip through one day, but that could happen with any of the products available.
    To me that seems rather drastic. I just make sure I'm fully patched, and fully disable/uninstall any unnecessary programs. When things run slow, keep an eye on task manager (and sort the items by CPU usage). It will show up any problems - and google helps to find out what they are.
    Installing from a USB stick can help a bit, instead of a CD. Microsoft provides a tool to create a bootable USB installation. And fast broadband helps too.

    But I believe Windows 7 allows you to do a full system backup (and restore). So just backup after a clean install, and after applying all the patches, and restore them next time.
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  16. MikeTV

    MikeTV Active Member

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    Also, one last thing. Take a look at some PC optimisers - they really can sort out problems. The registry can become corrupt, etc. But be careful, because some of these packages are malware. Find a reputable company (I think AVG do one), and give it a go. Uninstall it when you're done. Also I've used TCP optimizer from speedtest.net to good affect, which has solved some network throughput problems.
  17. Fat Tony

    Fat Tony Member

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    Ahh ... so simple and logical, when it's spelt out like that - why didn't I think of that?! :laugh:
  18. m0t0k0

    m0t0k0 Member

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    SSD is defiantly the way to go as it is the bottleneck in your system. Yes it should not be need to attain the responsiveness you had when the system was new but instead it will surpass your expectations as it makes a huge difference to system responsiveness.

    I have a very old SSD and as such for quite a while it did not support the TRIM command (this helps the SSD to keep running optimality and is supported now by the vast majority of SSDs)
    As a result to keep my SSD running fast I had to black the drives and restore to an image. I did this about 3 times and I can tell you it gets boring fast.

    With a modern SSD this will not be a problem and I would suggest not re imaging as it essentially a large file being written to the SSD. SSDs nand cells have a a finite number of write cycles they can sustain. If used normally this is not a problem and will last for years but constantly writing a system image is going to be detrimental.

    However creating a system image to restore to if you system borks is a very good idea. I create one for all the systems I build. This is how I do it.

    • Fresh install of Windows (make sure you opt to not update automatically)
    • If it is an SSD run the program SSD tweaker (just use the suggested settings)
    • You may have to now install network drivers so you can obtain updates (refrain from installing any other drivers as if you restore in two years time they will probably all be out of date)
    • Install all updates on your system
    • Install, update and activate any other Microsoft programs like office
    • Activate windows
    • Run Disk cleanup select all the options (can reduce the image size a reasonable amount)
    • Create image

    I have also found in the past that if I crated an image on HDD "X" and then copied it onto HDD "Z" I was not able to get the system to see the image on HDD "Z". Because of this I now have a dedicated external HDD I use for system images. As most of my SSDs are in the 30-60GB range I only need around 250GB disk and I have room to spare.

    Finally my main system takes a real beating, I tryout and install all sorts of crapware and play around with the registry and what not. The system stays very stable and fast. It does cause a small amount of system slowdown although I believe most of this is a placebo effect.
    I still only restore to my clean image when I brake something and cant work out how to fix it
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    Last edited: Feb 7, 2012
  19. Fat Tony

    Fat Tony Member

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    m0t0k0 - thank you so much, that is very helpful.

    By the way, you suggested this SSD: OCZ Vertex 2E 60GB 2.5" SATA-II Solid State Hard Drive earlier. My motherboard supports "True SATA 6Gb/s" according to the blurb. Should I go for one of these, just to make it a bit more future proof, or is it not worth it?
  20. m0t0k0

    m0t0k0 Member

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    The latest SSDs should be able to saturate SATA II connections so would need the 6Gb/s of the SATA III connection to get their full potential. But of course the most recent generation will be much more expensive.

    Its all about price/performance really and how much you are willing to pay. My SSDs is 3 years old and still works a treat so going for the latest tech is probably not 100% necessary.
    I went for the biggest drive I could afford which was 128GB which I have found a my audio and video media is stored on a files server is enough for windows + seam and my favourite games (giving my games the benefit of SSD speeds)

    The more common approach is to buy a small boot SSD and have just the OS stored on it and maybe a very few select apps.

    As per which is the best SSD there sre so many out there and prices very a lot so reading some up to date reviews and round up is probably best
    Best SSDs and Best HDDs | Hardware Revolution
    Best SSDs For The Money: January 2012 : Best SSDs For The Money: January Updates
    Both of these are in dollars but should give some ideas

    Don't worry about weather it is SATA II or SATA III just look for the best one to suit you as you can accommodate both SATA types anyway

    I suggested the vertex 2e as at the time I had been reading it was a good product and had some good prices but it was an example of what is available.

    A bit of time researching what is available in your price bracket would be a good idea and you will also learn a lot about how and SSD operates
  21. Sinbadio

    Sinbadio Member

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    Just to let you know that at the moment SSD's sell for about £1 per Gigabyte and that's the minimum so that should help you establish a price.

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