Upgrade or buy new PC?

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Jon_Are, Apr 17, 2003.

  1. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are Cinematographer

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    Here's the deal.

    I have a 600 mhz HP Pentium 3 with 640 MB RAM. It does everything I need with one exception: I've recently purchased a digital camera and have been storing and sorting the photos with limited success. The thumbnail images load fairly slowly, and often freeze up altogether. I thought boosting my RAM to the 640 that I now have would correct the problem, but it seems to have had little effect.

    I'm satisfied with the sound card, the CDRW drive, the monitor, etc. I just want my photos to load efficiently.

    I suspect that my 600 mhz isn't cutting it. Is this easily upgrade-able? What should I get, minimum, and how much should it run me? Can I do this upgrade without having to wipe clean the hard drive? How much tweaking is necessary?

    Is it possible to upgrade the processor without replacing the motherboard?

    Or, maybe my hard drive, while big enough, is too slow? Would upgrading this drive boost its performance?

    Thanks for any help,

    Jon
     
  2. Jeff Peake

    Jeff Peake Supporting Actor

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    Could be that the program you are using to store /sort photos is just not working. What are you using??

    I used to upgrade my old PC's when they got a little slow. Now I just build a new one. That way you have 2 working PC's instead of one and a pile of spare parts you will never use again!
     
  3. Dalila

    Dalila Stunt Coordinator

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    How far you can go depends on what mobo you own and what it will support.

    As far as losing your info, changing your CPU will have no effect on that.

    It's a very simple process, will take you longer to open the case then to put the new chip in.

    Would need to know what mobo you have to know what other cpus it will support.

    As for price, since you are not a gamer or looking to be blazinly fast, it wont be much at all. [​IMG]
     
  4. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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    The CPU is a good candidate for why things are slow, but probably has nothing to do with the freeze-ups.

    Which OS are you using? If it's Windows, are the thumbnails in the Explorer, or some other software?

    //Ken
     
  5. DaveGTP

    DaveGTP Cinematographer

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    600 mhz P3 and 640MB of RAM should handle simple photo previews! As far as speed, I would hazard a guess that you have a 5400 RPM hard drive that is slowing you down. You should check out your specific model specs to see.
    As far as lockups, more info as to software is needed to troubleshoot, I would say.
     
  6. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are Cinematographer

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    Thanks, everyone.

    I have no idea what motherboard I have; how can I find that out?

    I also would appreciate info on obtaining the hard drive specs.

    As for the software, I'm just sorting the photo images in the My Photos file of Windows XP.

    Thanks again,

    Jon
     
  7. Keith Plucker

    Keith Plucker Screenwriter

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    Hi Jon,

    I assume you have some sort of prebuilt PC such as a Dell, Compaq or HP. If so, there is probably a model number on the back of the case. If you get that, you could then go to the manufacturers web site and find out what your options are as far as processors go. If your system was built by a small local shop, you may have to open up your case and look for information on the motherboard itself to get more details. My rule of thumb for processors upgrades is that unless you can go at least 50% faster it is probably not worth it.

    As Dave mentioned, if you are currently using a 5400 RPM HD, a good quality 7200 RPM HD such as the Western Digital Special Edition w/8MB cache should provide a nice boost whenever disk reading/writing is concerned.

    You said you are using Windows XP, do you know if it was installed over another copy of Windows as an upgrade or was it installed from scratch. Personally, I have never been a big fan of upgrading to a new OS by starting with an old one. If XP wasn't installed from scratch, I would recommend doing a wipe and a reinstall of the OS. It can be a lot of work but I think in most cases you will end up with a more stable system doing it this way. Of course you also want to make sure you have XP drivers for any other hardware such as sound cards, network cards, modems, video cards, etc. You may also want to check on possible BIOS upgrades to the motherboard after you determine the manufacturer.

    Doing a clean install will be easier if you buy a new hard drive. You could install the new drive, format it and install Windows XP on it from scratch, using it as drive C:. You can set your old drive as a slave and not reformat it for now. After you get the new drive installed and XP up and running, you can copy your data (photos, music, etc.) from the old drive over to it. Any applications will have to be reinstalled. Once everything is copied over, you can reformat your old drive and use it for extra space or to back up your main drive.

    -Keith
     
  8. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are Cinematographer

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    Thanks, Keith.

    Yeah, it's an HP. I'll take your advice and check out their website.

    I installed my Windows XP on top of Windows 98; I only learned afterwards that this wasn't the way to go. I've been considering re-formatting and installing XP clean, but haven't yet mustered up the time nor the nerve to do so.

    Questions about installing a new hard drive:

    I assume there's physical space within the case to install another drive? Do they come with the necessary hardware?

    How do I physically connect it? Will it come with the necessary cables?

    How do I designate the current drive as slave? Does 'slave' mean, basically, that it is not the default drive (that is, the files & programs are still accessible but not automatically so).

    Here is my interpretation of your scenario (please correct if I'm mistaken):

    I install a new hard drive while leaving my old one in place. I install XP onto the new drive, then my applications. Finally, I install all my saved data files onto the new drive. And if there is a problem, at least I still have my old drive with its complete contents available.

    Yes?

    Thanks!

    Jon
     
  9. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are Cinematographer

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    Another question: are hard drives universally compatible with various systems, or might I run into compatability problems?

    I'm leaning toward a 7200RPM 80GB Western Digital with an 8MB cache, as suggested by Keith, but I want to make sure my 600mhz Pentium3 will accept it.

    Thanks,

    Jon
     
  10. Jeff Peake

    Jeff Peake Supporting Actor

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    Yes hard drives will work in any system.
     
  11. Dalila

    Dalila Stunt Coordinator

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    Here's hoping I remember all you asked. (lol)

    You would install the new drive and set it as your master drive (there are lil pins on the back of HDD's you put it on master, and set your older one to slave. Yes, you should have at least one more drive cage even in a pre-built PC.

    Yes, they come with the hardware, screws and such to install it.

    Then do a CLEAN install of Windows XP to the new drive, after that, you would then have C: (being your new drive with Windows on it) and D: (your old drive) with your info on it, which you could then save and once done saving, then format it as well. [​IMG]
     
  12. Joe Szott

    Joe Szott Screenwriter

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    Jon,

    Hard Drive are hard drive, as long as it is all EIDE (not SCSI), you should have no problems swapping them out. That being said, I highly suggest you buy a program like Norton Ghost to amke an exact copy of your old HDD before you put in the new one. Couple reasons:

    * When you switch the new HDD to being the main drive, it will all work 100% the same, except you will have +XX GB of space.
    * If anything at all goes wrong with new HDD, you just switch out the old one and start again.
    * You can then reinstall XP fresh on the new HDD and know that you have a backup waiting in the wings in case anything goes wrong.

    Otherwise, you could just swap out the HDDs when you get the new one and then install WinXP straight unto the new drive. You will lose all your specific drivers and will need a boot diskette for this method though.
     
  13. Jeff Lehr

    Jeff Lehr Stunt Coordinator

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    You say your hard drive is big enough, but how full is it?
    Do you have more than one partition on it, and if so, is the partition you are saving photos to getting filled up?
    If you have plenty of room, before you do anything else, try defragging your drive and see if things improve at all for you. It may help quite a bit.

    JL
     
  14. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    Jon, the thumbnails may load slowly, it just depends on how large the actual file is. I have a lot of 2400dpi scans of 35mm negs on my system and the .bmp files are about 20-25mb each. Extracting the thumbnail does take Windows a good few seconds intially.

    Couple of things - there is an option in Folder Options to turn off the thumbnail caching. By default it's not ticked (so they will be cached) but make sure this hasn't been enabled as it will force Windows to read the file each time you look in the folder. Also, is your hard drive formatted in the NTFS file system? If you 'upgraded' from 98 there's a chance it will still be in FAT32. I found when I switched all my drives up to NTFS a while ago that thumbnail reads suddenly became a fair bit faster.

    But if you're running a 600mhz CPU now, upgrading isn't going make a huge amount of difference to this issue. As the others have said, a new hard drive probably will.
     
  15. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are Cinematographer

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    Wow, you guys are good.

    Rob, I'm running FAT32 (which, again I found out too late, is less desirable).

    Jeff, my drive is 36GB and it's about half full. I'll try defragging.

    Joe, I already have a copy of Ghost, just haven't installed it yet. It's the 2002 version.

    Alright, I think I've got a clear idea of what to do. One thing that still has me puzzled, though:

    Let's say I've installed a new 80GB hard drive and kept my old 36GB drive in place. I've designated the 80 as master and the 36 as slave. Can I then go into My Computer and drag, say, Microsoft Word (including all its components and files) over to the 80 drive? Or do I have to re-install the program and data files?

    Finally, I'll want to designate the 80 as C: (which the 36 is currently designated). How to I change the 36 to, say, G Drive?

    Thanks to all the help I'm getting here, this should be a fairly easy process.

    Jon
     
  16. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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  17. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are Cinematographer

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    Rob -

    I understand everything you wrote except this:

     
  18. Dalila

    Dalila Stunt Coordinator

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    Your IDE channels are where you connect your devices to the motherboard. You can simply follow the ribbon from your exsisting HD to where it plugs into. That will be IDE1

    Computers normally have at least two IDE channels, the primary and the secondary. You can connect two IDE devices to each IDE channel, for a total of four IDE device connections. The primary and the secondary IDE channels are located either side-by-side or end to end. Usually silk screened on the mobo, will be the words Pri IDE, Sec IDE or sometimes 1 and 2.

    If at all possible, the best configuration is always to have each device on a separate channel. Of course, not all channels are created, and thats not always possible.

    There are many ways you can extract a lil more performance from your HDD's just by how you set them up in the various IDE channels.

    However, when 2 devices are on the same channel and are being used at the same time, you will always run at the slowest speed of whatever device is on that channel. So it also depends on what you are going for. [​IMG]
     
  19. Rob Gillespie

    Rob Gillespie Producer

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    Pretty much what Dalila said (if you can read the pink text) except for this:

     
  20. Dalila

    Dalila Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, it does depend on the controller chip... and then there is also the Intel Application Accelerator.

    Course I use a RAID Array (on our main rig) which is great for what I use it for.

    Now, after you get past all this HDD stuff, there is soooooo much more one can do, to really get the most from their system. (esp if you use XP) But, that is probably for another thread. [​IMG]


    **EDIT** It's Deep Pink [​IMG] lol
     

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