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Replace motherboard. and upgrade processor.
kahuna




msg:1567710
 3:16 pm on Apr 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Replace motherboard... and upgrade processor..
OK.. I've got an older P4 2g standard motherboard... wouldn't it be rather straight forward to replace/upgrade the board and processor (buying them together from one of the deal/wholesalers)? Obviously some of the newest board's configurations would be confusing, but an upgrading to a faster processor with a faster front side bus should work with the appropriate power supply and fans?

Thanks for your comments... I am sure there are a lot of variables to consider... hey... I rebuilt a VW engine once and it wasn't all that hard :-))

 

jtara




msg:1567711
 8:37 pm on Apr 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Does your system seem slow to you? If so, what seems slow?

A 2gHz Pentium IV is plenty for most general office-type needs. Do you have some specific task that it seems inadequate for?

It may be that there are other parts of your system that would give you more bang for your buck. What kind of hard drive do you have? I'd guess that your system has an IDE drive. An upgrade to a 10K SATA drive (would probably require an add-in card) would likely give you a huge increase in disk access speed. (Both seek time and transfer rate.)

If you play video games, a new video card would likely do more for you than anything else.

I don't think it's worthwhile to upgrade a CPU and motherboard unless you can increase the speed by a factor of 4X. Not sure that's possible, at least with one CPU chip. Even the current crop of dual-core chips is unlikely to hit that 4X target.

I've always built my own systems from components. I'm happy to help you out, but first I think you should be sure of your needs.

FWIW I have two systems here. The older one is a dual 3 gHz Xeon, running Windows XP. The new one I just built is a 2 gHz ("3800+") Athlon X2 running Fedora Core 5 (64 bit). The new one is about as fast as the older one, while sucking half the power.

Both use Seagate Cheetah 15K SCSI drives. Today you can get darn near the performance of the Cheetahs at a much lower cost by using SATA drives.

They are both probably overkill for what I need from them. Notice that I didn't go for the highest clock rate available. There just isn't any need.

(When I built the dual-Xeon, I had a need for the fastest available processors, as I was working on software for financial trading, which required the lowest possible latency from receiving a quote to transmitting an order. It wasn't a matter of CPU load, but how fast we could turn a quote into an order. This required a fast processor, even if the machine was idle most of the time.)

Tell us a little more about what you use your computer for and what you don't like about it, and we can be a bit more helpful.

kahuna




msg:1567712
 3:45 am on Apr 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanks for your response...

I use the computer hardly ever for gaming... I do most of my graphics for webpages on it... I do a lot of my music listening on it.. I record TV programs with my USB 2 PVR...
I have installed 5 port USB 2 card (PCI slot), the system only came with USB 1 .
I have installed a Nvidia Gforce FX5200 128 meg AGP 4x
I have a USB wireless mouse.
I swapped out the firewire card and put in it's slot a Creative Audigy 4 sound card (5.1 speaker system) and it seems like things started to slow down after this install..

Would it be possible that with the USB 2 card and the Sound card in the PCI slots that it is slowing down the system.. that doesn't make sense to me...

It feels like the system isn't "multi" tasking as well as it used too.. webpages load slower when I have Winamp running or watching TV with the PVR...

I have 1gig of ram... I don't think the system will allow me more... 100 gig main drive... 300 gig internal storage drive..

I am always checking for the "nasty" spyware stuff... so I don't think I have an BHO's (use firefox always)... my cable modem connection runs pretty fast, about 6000k...

When I run task manager... I don't see any major CPU hogs (I also use Sysinternals process explorer to investigate all the processes and haven't seen anything buggy).

I will add that maybe I am experiencing an illusion because next to this system is my laptop (well its actually one of those desktop laptops 17inch screen) that has 2 gig ram and 3mhz HT processor... and I am always running them both at the same time doing different but same tasks (email... surfing, browsing, recording music)... So maybe I am a little "spoiled" with the laptops increased power.

I was thinking it would be "cheaper" to upgrade the motherboard/processor in the older computer than buying a whole new computer... but I tend to agree with your statement... "upgrade CPU and motherboard unless you can increase the speed by a factor of 4X."

Thanks for your interest...

jtara




msg:1567713
 4:32 pm on Apr 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

webpages load slower when I have Winamp running or watching TV with the PVR..

Now, that's a strange symptom. Loading webpages isn't a particularly CPU-intensive task. And it doesn't sound like an Internet bandwidth issue, since using your PVR has nothing to do with the Internet.

Have you checked the CPU meter when performing these tasks? Are you running visualizations with Winamp? What kind of hard drives do you have? (ATA/SATA/SCSI, rotational speed). You aren't recording with the PVR to another computer or network attached storage across a network, are you? (Or to a USB drive?) It wasn't clear if you are just watching TV or recording?

Does your TV software have a configuration option for video display mode? Mine (a Hauppauge - PCI, not USB, though that is irrelevant to this issue) has various choices - DIB Draw, Force Primary, Allow Overlay, Allow VMR, VMR7, VMR9, Either. Some of these modes will use SIGNIFICANT CPU time. (Anything not using overlay.) VMR9 is best, but is only available in Windows XP. With any overlay mode set, it should use very little CPU.

-----
OK, that said, given that you have a faster notebook, you're probably going to upgrade whether you need it or not. It's like getting a new Toyota that beats the cr** of your old Porsche. That old Porsche is just going to have to go. :) (OK, it'd have to be a damn old Porsche, so I suppose I've stretched the analogy a bit...)

I don't think you will need a new power supply. Your old Pentium IV is a power hog. The Megahertz War is over, and chipmakers are now concentrating on getting better power efficiency and reducing thermal loading. You may need some inexpensive adapter cables - for example, if your old board uses a 20-pin power cable and the new one 24-pin. The new one will most likely also require an additional 4-pin 12V connection. You can get a little adapter cable to run this off of a 4-pint "disk drive" power connector. One thing to watch for - there has been a slow shift from relying on the +5 and +3.3 outputs toward the +12. Newer power supplies will supply more current at +12 and less at +5 and +3.3. Make sure your +12 output is adequate. It probably is, given that you have a Pentium IV. I used an old PC Power & Cooling 400W supply that puts out 15A at +12. Though this is much lower than the 30A you will see from newer supplies, 15A is adaquate unless you are going to be running dual high-end graphic cards or dual CPU chips (as opposed to a dual-core CPU.)

Check your motherboard's form factor, and make sure your case will take a standard motherboard. Most today will be ATX. Some "server" boards will be EATX which is a larger board. There are some other form factors "mini-ATX", etc. Look these up on Wikipedia, open up your case, and see what it will take. ATX is a good bet.

If you have a Fry's in your area, Fry's is your friend. It's the store I love to hate. They'll have all the little power supply adapters, etc. you need. Unless, of course, they are out, they are in the wrong place, or a customer has opened the package and replaced it with the wrong part. :( But you can be amused by the comments of 19-year-old gamers in the cooling isle, pointing at the water cooling kits and saying "that's sick, I've got to have that!".

Check what type and speed of RAM you currently have, and see if it is compatible with the new board. Your new system will probably have dual-channel DDR or dual-channel DDR2 (Intel only, for now, but AMD very shortly). Your old system is unlikely to use dual-channel. (Dual-channel must be used in pairs. They'd have you believe that they have to be MATCHED pairs. I've bought it hook, line, and sinker, so I can't tell you if you can get away with non-matched pairs.) So, if you want, say, 2GB, you will need to get a kit of two two 1GB sticks. Fortunately, memory has gotten pretty cheap.

A new board will have lots of USB ports. (My new one has 10 - 4 on the back, and 6 more via pins on the motherboard that can be connected to brackets, front-panel connectors, etc.) And on-board audio is getting better all the time. (They've gotten much better about the noise level.) My new board even has an SPDIF output, so if you have speakers that will take an SPDIF input, there's absolutely no reason to use an add-in card. (NO analog signal processing, so no opportunity for electrical noise.)

Speaking of noise - consider a third-party heatsink/fan. Your CPU chip will probably come with one. They are getting better, but if you want to save your CPU chip and your ears - there are some monstor heatsinks that use heat pipes and 120mm fans that will keep the chip cooler with MUCH less noise.

When you apply the thermal grease, do NOT over-do it! LESS is better. The purpose of the thermal grease is to fill any air gaps. But the thermal conductivity of the thermal grease is MUCH less than that of metal. You don't want the thermal grease to prevent metal-to-metal contact. On older, small-diameter chips, use the "credit card" technique. Put a small dab on the top of the chip, then spread it smoothly with the edge of a credit card. With newer, large-diameter chips, another technique is recommended - put a small dollop in the middle of the chip (for Intel, "the size of a grain of long-grain rice" - for AMD "1 1/2 grains") put down the heatsink, then rotate slightly - a couple of degrees of rotation. Over a few days, it will spread and fill in the gaps. It will NOT cover the entire top of the chip, and that's perfectly OK. The hot spot is in the center.

I'm probably over-emphasizing this, and it will probably be OK no matter how you do it. If you see thermal grease oozing out around the chip - you used too much. :)

The cooler that comes with the chip is easier. It will come with a "thermal pad". You just peel the cover off of the stickum, and plop it down. But it's not as effective as thermal grease. (I use Arctic Silver 5. Expensive stuff. If you can consider $7 expensive.)

It feels like the system isn't "multi" tasking as well as it used too..

Do consider one of the new multi-core CPUs. Windows runs SO much nicer with two CPUs or two CPU cores. (There's no practical performance difference between two chips and two processors on the same chip. And there's a HUGE power advantage to two cores on one chip.) Intel currently has the lead price-wise, while AMD has the advantage performance-wise. But you will recoup the additional cost of an AMD chip with lower electrical bills over the life of the machine. An Athlon 64X2 will use less juice than your current chip. Intel has some lower-power and better-performing dual-core chips coming but not quite available yet.

TheLBC




msg:1567714
 5:19 pm on Apr 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

If you're running Windows, the new combo may trigger a (ms required) os reinstall. There's a scoring system based on which hardware components you've upgraded since your original install. I remembered this being a buzz killer everytime I wanted to do a mb/cpu upgrade.

jtara




msg:1567715
 7:33 pm on Apr 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

If you're running Windows, the new combo may trigger a (ms required) os reinstall.

This might be a plus. ;)

It's a major pain, but it's not a bad idea to re-install Windows from scratch every now and then. Say, once every 1-2 years.

The *&^%! registry dictates that, as a practical matter, you should reinstall on a blank hard drive. (Or at least a fresh partition.) And then you have to reinstall every application you have. Major pain in the butt, and one reason why Linux is so much easier to work with on upgrades/reinstalls. No registry, all settings kept in simple text files. Moving an app is like the wonderful old world of DOS...

----
One other thing I meant to mention is graphics cards. There is no speed advantage to PCI-express over AGP 4X, either now or any time in the forseeable future. Current cards can't even attain AGP 8X speed, and even the most high-end current graphic cards only use 4 PCIe lanes (even though they plug into a 16 lane slot...) There's a lot of marketing hooey surrounding PCIe. Yes, PCIe is capable of incredible speed, and it's a sensible replacement for both AGP and PCI. but 16 lanes at this juncture is a bunch of hogwash.

HOWEVER, if you are going to upgrade your graphics card, I WOULD get a motherboard with a PCIe 16X slot. DON'T WORRY if it only supports 8X on the 16X slot, as it isn't going to make a difference. Future generations of graphics cards are unlikely to be offered in AGP form, so going PCIe now will obselescence-proof your machine for quite a while.

And you may want to upgrade your graphics card, if you plan on installing Windows Vista and if you will want to use the new whiz-bang 3D effects in the GUI. I think your current card may be just below the requirements for full Vista support.

See:

[eweek.com...]

Automan Empire




msg:1567716
 9:21 pm on Apr 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanks for answering a question I had about the future of AGP Vs PCIe.

While we are on the topic, I'd like to hear more details about just how much faster graphics cards make a computer run.

For watching video clips or movies, no gaming or heavy rendering, "how much" video card is worth the investment? And for that matter, what use does 128/256 megabytes of graphics memory do when playing a 700k clip for example?

Thanks,
-Automan

jtara




msg:1567717
 4:17 am on Apr 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

For watching video clips or movies, no gaming or heavy rendering, "how much" video card is worth the investment?

For video, it's not so much "how much" but "how new".

2D desktop performance has been maxed-out for some time. You're not going to get much if anything in the way of 2D performance by going to a better/faster/newer card.

Video is another story though. While most of the emphasis in new and high-end cards is on 3D, recent cards have several advances in the field of video. For example, graphics cards have been able to decode MPEG for some time, offloading that task from the CPU. And the latest cards can load algorithms to decode future video encoding schemes that haven't been invented yet.

Newer cards also now can perform various video filtering tasks, very sophisticated deinterlacing, etc.
How much software support there is for this right now, I dunno. A good example of a software package that could make use of this capability is the free, open-source program DScaler:

[deinterlace.sourceforge.net...]

DScaler can produce results on your computer screen that are probably better than any HDTV on the market. But it is a huge CPU hog. You will see more of this sort of software now that this can be offloaded to the GPU.

You probably don't need much of a high-end card for this. Just one of the more recent cards that supports these features.

And for that matter, what use does 128/256 megabytes of graphics memory do when playing a 700k clip for example?

Probably none.

BTW, here's one reason why recent cards have so much memory: AGP permitted the graphics card to access main memory. That's no longer possible with PCIe. So, memory on the graphics card is getting fatter.

kahuna




msg:1567718
 12:58 pm on Apr 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

You wrote:

Now, that's a strange symptom. Loading webpages isn't a particularly CPU-intensive task. And it doesn't sound like an Internet bandwidth issue, since using your PVR has nothing to do with the Internet.

Have you checked the CPU meter when performing these tasks? Are you running visualizations with Winamp? What kind of hard drives do you have? (ATA/SATA/SCSI, rotational speed). You aren't recording with the PVR to another computer or network attached storage across a network, are you? (Or to a USB drive?) It wasn't clear if you are just watching TV or recording?

Does your TV software have a configuration option for video display mode? Mine (a Hauppauge - PCI, not USB, though that is irrelevant to this issue) has various choices - DIB Draw, Force Primary, Allow Overlay, Allow VMR, VMR7, VMR9, Either. Some of these modes will use SIGNIFICANT CPU time. (Anything not using overlay.) VMR9 is best, but is only available in Windows XP. With any overlay mode set, it should use very little CPU.
==========================================================

Thanks for all your feedback and time working with this issue.

My drives are ata running at 7200.
I was going to back off about webpages loading slower but actually they are... it's if the computer is being bogged down cacheing or just getting the images or page into memory. I'm not doing any WinAmp visualizations while other activites but needless to say if I try to watch internet TV and run the Haup and other apps significant slow down.
If I am running the winTv (Haup) application.. just watching TV, not recording it will take nearly 45 seconds for FireFox to load... and basically the same for any other application I try to launch... and thusly viewing a webpage slows to a crawl. the winTV application from Haup... is running at about 30 to 40 percent cpu.. which seems acceptable.. but as soon as I launch another application it jumps to 60 to 70 percent.. thats just the winTV app. without recording.
I record to either internal drive.. and I have tried all the overlay options but am using VMR9 for now.

I really shouldn't need to upgrade this motherboard... but why I have gotten this slow down is starting to bug me... I used to be able to watch tv... surf.. listen to music and even have windows media player watching something with out any significant slow down...

I am wondering... is it possible WinAmp has installed a codec that is not quite as compatible with the Haup decoding that the computer or the Haup winTV app is now using, if that is a possible scenario... As I use WinAmp for lots of internet TV viewing...

The motherboard is a ASUS P4B-LA (Amazon) and the computer an hp xt978... the FSB is supposed to be 400 and I am using SDRAM and the speed of that is 133... which seems slow but what do I know :-))

Thanks again.

I just edited this for this note... I appreciate the comments about the heat sink compound. I clean the fans regualarly.... and I am sure I put way too much on the last time I pulled the processor fan.. it wasn't oozing out the sides but a lot more than a grain of rice and spread thin.. I did some reading on the chip overheating.. I haven't had any crashes.. but would there may be possiblilty that it heats up enough during peak accesses to slow things down?

Thanks again.

kahuna




msg:1567719
 5:35 pm on Apr 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

Just an addition to the "heat" question and possiblities...
I got Motherboard Monitor to work finally... and checked the results with another program in "trial" mode and they both are telling me the board is running at 55 celcius... which seems a bit hot... I may install a better cooling fan.. but since the temperature seems to be quite stable.. a degree or two lower at idle... I don't think I'm toasting the chip slowing it down..

K.

jtara




msg:1567720
 9:00 pm on Apr 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

Aha! Sounds like a buffering problem.

First of all, make sure you have the most recent Happauge drivers and applications.

The buffering option is a bit confusing. You can't actually turn off the disk buffer. You can set it to 0, but that won't eliminate it altogether. It will always create a 8MB "livetv.mpg" file. The setting for buffering controls how much larger than that it can grow once you pause.

I'll bet you are pausing when you leave the computer for some reason. Don't. Or, set the setting to 0, so that the file won't grow if you do accidently hit pause.

With the default-size buffer of 8MB, the buffer fits easily in Windows disk cache in RAM. It still writes to the disk constantly, but the reads are satisfied from cache. Hit pause, and all bets are off. When you un-pause, you're going to make the disk start seeking like crazy.

I'd forgotten about this. This is a case where a SCSI drive is a definate advantage. (One of the new SATA2 drives with Native Command Queueing would be a good choice as well. There are only a few at this point with NCQ.) I just checked - my disk light is on constantly while watching TV, but I don't hear any seek sounds, and it doesn't seme to slow anything down. Make sure your hard drive is set to buffer writes, also. (You may need to get an ATA parameter-setting utility, but I think this is built-in to Windows under the device manager. Find your hard drive, and there sould be some settings.)

You can also go fiddle with your _LiveTV profile settings, though I've never had much luck with this. You can Google it if you want to fiddle with it. I think you have to hand-edit a text file to actually change this. (You can change the bitrate, etc.)

-----
55C is a bit hot, but within spec. Most CPU chips are speced to go to about 75C. GPU chips go much higher - mine has a limit of 125C before it slows down to prevent further heating. My dual Xeons run at about 40C, the new Athlon 64X2 runs around 35C and the GPU (Nvidia 6800XT) runs around 50C at idle. But I'm a fanatic about big heatsinks, and don't overclock. I doubt you are having thermal problems.

kahuna




msg:1567721
 3:55 pm on Apr 23, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanks again for you comments and time..
I did just today update my graphic card drivers and then also did a reinstall of Haup winTv files and drivers.. thinking that when I installed the sound card (it came with the new installs of InterVideo and other stuff along with a "type" of windows Media Center type app with a IR remote control - all I wanted was the the killer stereo speakers but it came with all that other stuff..)

Anyway... I did see a little improvement. I hardly ever hit the pause on the Haup winTV.. but I did set the buffer size to 0 just in case.
Thinking back to a situation a year or so ago when a windows update had everybody's compter slowing down.. I did a search on that topic and found this link about shutting down a bunch of Window's Services.
[masternewmedia.org...]

I have done some tweaking on Services before, but this article was written last week...
Now I am back up to speed... while I will caution anybody that does tweaking on the services to write down what they change and the original settings... I didn't do all of the recomendations but a significant amount of them.
I was amazed how it brought me back up to speed and I'm really happy. Especially sticking to the concept we orginally talked about not upgrading until we get that 4x speed increase.

Hope some of this helps others and thanks again for your time and comments.

Rob.

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