Originally Posted by ME BIGGD01After much research of the constant lag in some games and sudden slowness in the game I have come to the conclusion that there are a few reasons that cause this. I for one am a freak when it comes to having a computer that is tweaked to the max regardless of the CPU. I tell everyone that if a system is configured correctly, it will run more efficient than a computer with twice the CPU grade that is not configured correctly.
Let’s look at the main components first inside a computer.
Notice the order I put these in. Some may disagree with my assumptions but later on, I hope to prove my theory.
Ok, I will only discuss users, using the Windows XP or Windows 2000 operating system. If you are using anything with the 9x kernel, you need to upgrade ASAP.
When building a computer, most people spec it out without looking at what will make the system the most efficient. Usually buying the fastest CPU makes them feel like they are getting the best computer and is usually the marketing approach when someone goes to buy a new computer.
Ex. – “Wow that computer with a p4 3.2 GHz CPU is the fastest chip on the market”. Salesmen usually look for these people to make their next sale. I love to go into these stores and listen to them BS the shopper. Now knowing that you have a fast chip in there should never be enough information when buying a computer. Things that should be asked are:
1.How much RAM is installed and what is the speed of the RAM (pc2100, pc2700, pc3200)? If you are buying a computer on the p4 or Athlon platform, you should look to get the fastest RAM. A P4 should always have DDR pc3200 because if it doesn’t you are not utilizing the bus. The same goes for the Athlon 64 family. The Athlon XP chips mostly use pc2700, which is 333 MHz because most of these chips run with the FSB of 333 MHz. Now regardless of what the CPU is, you should always run the CPU in sync with the memory speed. If the CPU is using a 333 FSB (front side bus) and the ram is a 400 FBS capable chip, you should have both in sync with each other, which would be CPU/333 RAM/333. Today most motherboards used are using dual channel, which doubles the bandwidth. If your ram runs at pc 3200 (400MHz) then in a dual channel configuration (two sticks of same ram) the spec would be 3.2 x 2= 6.4 on memory bandwidth. This is where you also must be in sync with FSB. Another key point to make is not all these modules being sold are dual channel capable which can totally make you waste money on RAM thinking you are getting dual channel capability RAM. Suggestion, make sure when purchasing RAM it says it comes with heat spreaders. Sometimes the heat spreaders are not put on the memory. Always buy name brand RAM and you will be fine such as Kingston, Crucial, Etc.
2.Ask what the specs of the hard drive are such as size and speed. Size is a good thing but at a slower RPM, speed can totally make a machine really seem slow. 7200 RPM should be the minimum in a desktop but some OEMs will save 5 dollars on putting in a 5400 RPM drive which also allows them to get rid of the extra stock. 5 dollars seems like a small amount, but multiply that by the amount of computers they sell and it becomes a million dollar profit.
3.Video cards are very important and should probably be the most important piece of a gaming machine. To me, spending $400-500 on a video card is a waste, as the games or software really will not take advantage of the hardware for 1-2 years after release. The better card will give you more FPS, but truthfully, will not justify spending the money for a feature not noticeable to the naked eye. I would suggest no less than 128 MB’s of ram for any card, though. Video card companies have been getting pathetic these days releasing different versions of the same cards. Between pro, ultra, and special edition versions of cards with the same numbers, they really seem to be ripping of the consumer. One really needs to be careful when making an investment on any video card. Research should be done to see what the manufacturer is putting out for the money. A good example of this would be the geforce4 MX line of cards. Personally, I feel this card is nothing more than a waste of money and a fraudulent way of advertising a video card. This card didn’t even support DirectX 8, which should have been a standard when the card was released. The prices of these cards were based for the budget market, but the naming scheme was just bogus in which all the companies have now took part of “ATI-NVIDIA”. Also, avoid all integrated video cards for all gaming machines. It will hog up the bus and share the memory of your computer. This bottlenecks you in several ways. The minimum video card you should use is Geforce2 TI200 unless you are playing DX8 games. IF you plan on playing DX9 games like Doom 3 then you need at least a Geforce4 4200 or Radeon 9600. There really isn’t much out there software-wise that uses DX9 yet but if you are buying high end you should be future proof. I wouldn’t recommend buying these high-end $400-500 cards at least until the PCI express cards are released and would even wait a little after that (if you have the money).
4. CPU speed is important, but not as important as most think. Sure you need something that can crunch, but when gaming, the video card really does a lot of the work. I would argue this too, but the fact is you can have an 800 MHz processor run just fine with a good video card. If it feels slow, it is mainly because the architecture is old and not the crunching the CPU is doing. Through every upgrade or advancement in the pc components, the clear advancements are made from getting rid of the bottlenecks. If you have a 800 MHz chip, it’s mostly the bottlenecks slowing you down and not the processor. Put a 7200 RPM hard drive in that old unit and some more RAM and you will see it has no problem doing what ever you need it to do. Ok, I am not saying that there are no big differences but if you understand what I am saying out of all this, it takes more than just the processor to make your system run well. Today they sell some pretty expensive chips that are fast but they also sell chips that are cheap and run fast. Both Intel and AMD have some pretty good deals right now that will help you to build a nice new box or upgrade your current machine. Personally I will stick with AMD products due to the life existence of every platform they put out along with a good price tag for their chips. Which platform is better? If you ask me I would say AMD with a bias view toward Intel and it’s way of operation. I will not get into that right now but I am sure many people who have bought AMD’s chips will agree you get more value for your buck with an option to upgrade that will not cause you to break a the bank.
Enough of that and let’s get to the point. If you are buying a CPU, you need to know what the specs of this particular CPU have. Now it’s pretty obvious that MHz does not matter as each company have different models that may have same MHz rating but the bus speed of the chip and some other extensions such as 333/400 FSB for the Athlon XP line or the 533/800 FSB of the P4 line. Notice I did not mention the Athlon64 line because the specs are pretty much the same since there really is no FSB of the Athlon 64 and runs at a speed of 1600FSB. The memory controller is built into each Athlon 64 chip. I will go quickly with this one though because the Athlon 64 is changing fast and as some may notice in the market you have Athlon 64s with a 1Meg cache and an Athlon 64 w/ 512 cache. AMD also offers a server chip “the Opteron” which is a workstation class or server chip that will run in an 8-way system configuration. The Opteron is pretty much the same as AMD’s Athlon 64 FX chip in which is dual channel capable and also has 1 Meg of cache. This FX chip is the fastest chip on the market today and out performs Intel’s enthusiast class chip (the P4 Extreme edition which is a Xeon with 3 Megs of cache and a 800 FSB and is hard to get and very expensive). AMD is changing these and we can expect the Athlon 64 chips to be running on a new chipset next month which will be dual channel capable and the chips will only have 512 MB of L2 cache. Not to worry for those that already spent the big bucks on the 754-pin chips and chipsets because AMD will still support these chips with future versions of the Athlon 64 chip. When purchasing any one of these chips from either vendor, make sure you know what you want and that that particular chip you are ordering has those features you want such as hyper threading in the P4 line or the 800 or 333/400 FSB. This is important on your configuration with the memory and CPU.
5.Ah, the network card. Some feel that they are all pretty basic. They feel that a $10 card can be added if the motherboard does not have it integrated. Most boards do have it integrated today but that, along with a PCI device added to your system, makes it a worthy component. Ever suffer from lag or slow down on a LAN or an online game? Have you ever wondered why you should be getting this with such a high-powered system? A network card is a device that steals CPU power cycles and, depending on your card and the drives, you may be suffering from a crappy NIC. I have tested a few along with my integrated Nforce NIC. It amazes me how many people look past this when they spend so much on other components. If you have a $10-20 network card, chances are you are robbing yourself from full potential of your system.
How can you test how much the CPU is using while using network card? Hit CTRL-ALT-Del and click on task manager. Click on the performance tab and leave it open. Now you should go to a web page and download a large file by right clicking on it and choose save target as. While the window is open to ask you to click save, close out the actual web page you are downloading from and the click on the save button. Now you can monitor the CPU cycles that the network card is using. There are other tests out there that will do more testing to your card and will give you a better performance view of the card you are using but I think you get my point. I use an Intel PCI 1000/100/10 MB card in my system because you simply cannot get any better and I have never had any problems with Intel NICs. They are very good on CPU usage.
6. Soundcards today have come along way. Hell I have $400 Logitech speakers, yet I use the integrated sound, which is pretty good on my Nforce2 board. I may pick up the audigy2 card but maybe later on in the future. I suggest that you make sure if you are using the integrated sound, to disable the midi port and game controller in the bios (unless you use them). These are taking up IRQs and regardless of how good Window 2000 and XP do with bus sharing, I like the bus to be as clean as possible with no sharing if possible. Like I said with CPU usage being used with the NIC, the same goes for the sound card solution in your computer.
Now that you figured what you feel is going to be the right components for your computer, lets chat about the configuration.
Let’s say you just put your system together part by part and you feel everything is in correctly. Well don’t just feel, give another look and make sure your jumpers are correctly placed and there is nothing unplugged. Also make sure there are no loose screws and no screws just hanging out on the board. Trust me it happens to the best of us being lazy.
First thing you want to do upon the first boot of your system is enter the bios. Make sure you configure the bios correctly by the parts you have in your system. Most people get confused messing with memory timings and I suggest you just change them to the actual timing of the system along with the spec of the RAM. An example is if you have a 333 FSB CPU you should have memory set to 333 even if the memory is 400 MHz ram. This will work in sync with the CPU like I mentioned before. If you have really good memory, set the CAS latency to 2.0 but only set it to that if you have really good RAM that’s able to run at this speed. If you have good RAM but not capable of running at 2.0 CAS, set it for 2.5. You can play with it later once the OS is installed to see how much your system can be tweaked. Next, disable any option that says video cache or bios cache. This was used in the older days and is not needed today. Disable search for floppy during boot up. Change the boot order to boot from the CD since you will be installing the OS from the CD. You will change this to IDE0 or the Boot device that has the OS on it after OS installation. Next, let’s disable stuff that you might not be using such as the com ports and midi ports. This setting is usually in integrated devices or something to that name. If you are using a sound card that you installed or network card you installed, make sure you disable the onboard components. Trust me I have seen this done. Ok, you are ready to click save and exit but before you do I will ask you to make sure you do not have your system connected to the web while installing. Click save and exit and install your windows OS.
Wow Windows is installed…
OK you just installed Windows and you want to get going. First lets fix the screw ups Microsoft hasn’t yet (service pack 2 is due out soon for XP). Before I go on, I will say that these suggestions are what I do when setting up a new computer and I do not claim my way to be the smartest way. You can choose to take this advice as many others do setup and configure the same way.
1. Right-click on task bar and choose properties, and then click on start menu. Put it to classic style for the time being so you know where I am explaining the procedures.
2. Right-click on the “my computer” icon, choose properties. Click on system restore tab and disable system restore. If you are not comfortable with this and fear you need this feature then I suggest at least lowering the space amount given and use this feature on the c drive if you have multiple partitions. I find this feature (system restore) for the novice and recommend ghosting for a full fledge backup utility. Next click on the Automatic updates and disable this feature. Do it yourself. You do not want windows to look for update while you are having the game of your life and causing you lag or giving you some dumb pop up while you are in a game. Now click on the advanced tab, and click on error reporting. Disable error reporting and uncheck the “notify me bla, bla, blah”. Click on the apply button and then click on the performance button. Disable everything with the words fade and slide in it. Also take the shadows off the mouse and menu’s. This will use resources. Click on the apply button again and wait for it to change then click on ok and then ok again so you are back at your desktop.
3. Right click on the “my computer” icon again but choose manage. Click on services and disable and stop these features…
· Automatic updates
· Error reporting service
· Fast user switching
· TCP/IP NetBIOS helper
· System restore
· Remote registry
· Wireless zero configuration (only if you are not using a wireless card)
· Windows time (do not disable but set to manual)
4. Reboot the system
5. After the system is rebooted, install the motherboard drivers, usually called chipset drivers. I recommend before starting this task to have downloaded the latest drivers from the motherboard manufactures site along with the latest service pack to the OS and burn them on CD. You should do this for all of your components such as sound and video. I will explain why later. This will save you a lot of time and will prevent a clutter of drivers from being put on your machine. I should have recommended this earlier but believe you will read this before ever making this attempt. Ok install chipset drivers, service pack for OS, install video drivers, install sound drivers and do this all from the CDs you created. Reboot as often as you are asked but make sure you have not connected to the Internet yet.
6. After reboot, and you are all done installing all the drivers and service packs, it’s now time to connect to the Internet.
7. Once you are connected, go to Windows Update (www.windowsupdate.com) and do all the security updates and patches. Reboot.
8. Go back to Windows Update and look at all the device driver updates. This is tricky here and I recommend only updating a driver for the CPU and ignoring any other device driver updates. Windows likes the drivers to be certified but not all of them are. Use the actual manufacturer for drivers only. Who do you trust more on the actual device?
9. Now you can do the other updates in the windows section but choose only what you think is necessary. DX9 is and XP updates are but some things aren’t.
Ok you are all ready to start installing your software including virus software. I recommend unplugging Internet service for now during installs. Leave the virus software for last. I suggest whenever installing drivers or software to disable anti virus software unless it is from a source you got from school or work.
After all the installations you do, sometimes these programs like to run with the start up. I recommend going in the actual program and see if there is away to disable it from starting up with windows. Try to not allow anything to start with windows that are not necessary for your daily work/tasks. First look at the startup folder and see if you can just delete it from the start up. If the program is starting up anyway, you may have to manually remove it from the registry or just use the msconfig option (only in XP). There are utilities out there that make it easier for you such as registry cleaner.
Windows XP is a pain in the butt when it comes to their MSN messenger which starts up even though you told the program not to. For XP pro users, here is the solution to prevent it from starting.
1. Hold down the windows button and the r key at the same time
2. Type gpedit.msc in the open window.
3. Under the computer configuration, expand admin templates, expand windows components, click on windows messenger and to the right pain is where you will enable both the features. You will understand just by looking at it, what it does.
4. Reboot and connect your computer back to the internet
I thought I was done but forgot to mention another CPU hog. This I have run into many times and is why I truthfully hate USB devices. Yes even a mouse can slow your computer down if it is cheap and does not have good drivers for it. A cheap device that is capable of slowing you down after spending big bucks on good hardware. Look out for cheap USB devices and look out for the USB devices sharing IRQs with the network card. It also uses power so it is also current from your power supply.
Other things I didn’t get into which are important that I will point out.
· Power supply—buy a name brand power supply
· Case—make sure it has good airflow. You do not need to have more than 2 case fans in a pc. If you do, the case sucks or you are running a server.
· Buy a good mouse and use it a PS2 version if you can.
· Printers should be connected via parallel cable before USB. There is no reason to use USB for your printer unless it is an all in one with out the parallel connection. It won’t be slower or faster but the IRQ is already waiting for the printer (IRQ 7 usually).
· Monitors---CRT for gaming but do not buy junk. If you paid big bucks for a video card, make sure you get a monitor that is capable of the features of the card. This is biggest mistake for most people with such cards.
Your system should be running pretty smooth at this point and you are ready to go. After all this work you have done, I suggest you now ghost an image on a DVD or a few CDs just incase you need to do a clean install without doing all this work again. Actually if you have a spare drive, you can do this every time you update your computer and keep the image active. It would only take you 15 minutes to restore your computer.
- ME BIGGD01