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Hardware Upgrade

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I will post a lot of information and questions, so excuse me in advance.

My current PC specs:-

  • RAM: 667Mhz 4GB DDR2
  • CPU: 2.5Ghz "6MB L2 Cache" Core2Duo
  • GPU: Intel X3100 IGP
  • Storage: (500GB, 2GB free) 5400 RPM "8MB cache"
  • OS: Win 7 Ultimate

I'm trying to determine which will benefit me most in my next upgrade(s). For example, maybe a LIano CPU would be better for me, or maybe a SB CPU would.

Also, I'm trying to pinpoint limitations so that I recognize where adding more hardware won't do any good. For example, a Core i7 Quad Core CPU may be really too extra for me.

1) Is there a program to record my CPU/RAM/Storage/GPU usage with full detail for each?

2) As I can see through Task Manager, RAM usage is between 50% and 90% most of the time. Should I get more RAM?

I know that there happens page swapping between the RAM and the HDD, but I'm not sure if this still happens even if the RAM isn't fully consumed, hence the question.

When is more RAM useful / After what usage percentage? Is it wise to totally turn off paging if I never exceed, say, 95% RAM usage?

3) I've done a bit of an experiment, I kept on typing (so fast and randomly) in Firefox (in a webpage input box) until Firefox halted and the Firefox window went blur. I monitored the resources during the process:-

- CPU always < 70%

- RAM always < 70%

- HDD always < 2MB/s

So, none of these "looks like" a bottleneck. Since the window did halt, one of these should be the bottleneck, and it most probably is the CPU, but why did the CPU never even exceed 70% usage when it's the bottleneck*** ?

*** that is, if it really is, but in such a process as typing in a browser webpage, it really seems to be a CPU intensive operation rather than an HDD or RAM one)

Edited by wajed

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1) You need perfmon to monitor.

2) The way applications swap to pagefile can't be defined easily so you need to use some tweaks depending on your running applications. But a fast ssd (or ramdrive) could handle the pagefile and increase a lot the overall performance of the applications using the pagefile.

3) There are more things you need to consider: for example a recent hard drive can sustain about 60/100MB/s in read or write (sequential) area (but the sytem doesn't know its limitation) but won't handle a lot of I/O (usually no more than 1000 read /s) and the system still doesn't know those limitations. The only way to be sure is stress testing the computer and monitor it (there are benchmarks that'll do that) then you'll know about the best perf of your hardware in each area and you'll be able decide on what upgrading. As a side note, you're using a core2duo and so only applications using both cores could take 100% cpu so be sure to read the usage of each core separately and if one is often at 100% (at this time total cpu would be at min 50%), then your bottleneck is the cpu.

But before upgrading, i would try to tweak the system to increase its performances.

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Thank you, I've taken a look at perfmon yesterday, it had a lot of meters. Now I'm logging and I will try to find a good analysis tool, or I'll try to do the analysis myself.

One big problem to me is that perform, AFAIK, doesn't have any GPU meters, is there anything like perfmon for GPU performance?

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I would make sure to run a cleaning utility like CCleaner or Norton Utilities to make sure your temp files are not what are bogging you down in normal usage. I've seen many computers that have just this problem on a daily basis.

Basic scanning software such as SuperAntiSpyware will also benefit you, as there may be other crap on your computer that you're totally unaware of. I know I scanned all the computers at my house one day, and even my computer was not 100% clean, and I hardly ever use it for anything other than Pro Audio work at this point, having such powerful laptops at my disposal (Toshiba Tecra M11).

No computer that's connected to the internet is immune to everything, and there's no saying the internet is the only way to catch any form of malware over time.

If you think something is giving you a bottleneck, make sure it's not the OS first, because if you clean the OS, and it's still acting up, it's likely drivers conflicting.

LatencyMon is a great tool for checking out driver conflicts for a DAW, it might prove to be useful for you as well.


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