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Do I need a better processor?

By Mike72
Jan 11, 2015
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  1. Hi there :) I've been having issues with my PC lately and have been looking for a place to ask them. I hope you guys don't mind. :)

    Firstly, my PC is awfully slow. It isn't very noticeable until I play a flash game or something similar. Instead of running like it should the speed is decreased dramatically - levels which take one minute to go through take me at least three. Now I've always known that my PC is slow, but after seeing that it's that bad I've decided to make an upgrade.

    I've tried to keep track of different components and the worst one appears to be my CPU. At standby it usually runs at around 30-50% and when I launch a browser, audio editing software or a game (Minecraft in my example) it immediately jumps to 100%. I'm forced to keep my setting to a minimum for it to function. The CPU I have is an Intel Pentium 4 3.00 GHz chip with 6GB of RAM (usually at around 30-50%, even when busy). I have 50GB of free hard drive space.

    Also for two years now in the winter months my PC randomly freezes and crashes when running a high-demand program for a while. I've always shrugged it off to overheating (my PC is right next to a radiator), but now I'm really starting to worry about permanent damage. I really want to get this solved quickly if possible, and would really appreciate any advice you can give :)

    So, does my CPU need upgrading? Or is it possibly my GPU? My graphics card is ATI Radeon HD 5400 series, and I believe it's dedicated (though I'm not exactly sure). By all standards it seems to be good enough, at least, so I'm blaming the CPU for now. Am I correct? Thank you in advance for any help!
    -Mike
     
  2. bazz2004

    bazz2004 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,232   +201

    I think you are jumping the gun on this. You've mentioned the fact that the PC is next to a radiator so you need to put that right. Secondly, like a car, a computer requires some maintenance. You need to keep the inside of the tower clean using something like an air duster can. The hard drive needs to be defragged occasionally unless it's SSD. Do you run the Windows Clean up utility to reclaim wasted space? Programs starting up with Windows that you aren't using cause a further drain on resources. A free utility that can be downloaded called CCleaner makes it easy to check that out. As the hard drive fills up things slow down so are there programs you can uninstall or stuff you can save elsewhere? See if things run better after you've followed up these suggestions.
     
    Mike72 likes this.
  3. Mike72

    Mike72 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I clean my PC regularly though I do have to get to it soon again. :) As for the rest of it, I've never really bothered, so I'll make sure to check out those apps you mentioned and store some data on my ext. hard drive. Thanks!

    But for the sake of speeding things up, let's pretend I've done all of this and my PC is still too slow. Is it the CPU that's causing most of the lag? If there is any surefire way to know at all, that is.
    -Mike
     
  4. bazz2004

    bazz2004 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,232   +201

    It is odd that cpu usage is shooting up to 100% when you launch a browser but I'm doubtful that means you need to upgrade your cpu. I'd install HWMonitor (freeware) and watch what's going on temperature wise. Maybe run some security scans. I like SUPERAntiSpyware (freeware)

    Perhaps somebody else can advise on the cpu. I've boosted performance with more ram and SSD hard drives but never considered changing the processor. I suspect the graphics card would be a better upgrade but again you've work to do on the computer first before deciding whether to start spending.
     
    Mike72 likes this.
  5. Mike72

    Mike72 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Well, I've tried CCleaner and I can tell there's already a bit of a difference, but my performance is still not optimal. I'll look up more maintenance tips and try to clear up my hard drive next. I'm really intent on upgrading my hardware as well, but as you said, it's almost certainly better to improve what I already have.

    As for the infections, I regularly scan my PC with AVG, and it never finds anything. It seems my PC just has a bunch of background processes running all the time. Even on startup - I tried cleaning that again, for perhaps the fifth time in six months and I can still barely tell a difference. That's what really convinced me its the CPU in the first place.

    Anyway, thank you for all your tips - again, I really appreciate it. My performance is definitely improving, and I bet it can be even better using some of the things you listed.
     
  6. bazz2004

    bazz2004 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,232   +201

    Have you looked in the Tools section of CCleanerand seen Startup? That will show you what's set to start with windows and it's dead easy to make changes. Lots of programs take it upon themselves to start as soon as you boot up Windows. In fact not many are required.
     
  7. Mike72

    Mike72 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Yep. I've done it straight from Windows a couple of times earlier as well.
     
  8. bazz2004

    bazz2004 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,232   +201

    I remember that I did once do a processor upgrade. It was from a Pentium II 350mhz to a Pentium II 550mhz. That was at the time a substantial jump in speed and I did it to better run Windows when I upgraded to XP from 98. In those days that meant simply plugging in the processor which was mounted on a large module into a slot on the motherboard. Dead easy to do. Anything faster and I'd have had to change the motherboard too. It did the job fine for a couple of years and then I bought a 3.4Ghz Pentium 4 system. If you are feeling the need for a new processor weigh up whether it's time to get a new system.
     
    Mike72 likes this.
  9. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,435   +145

    Idling at 30% - 50% is probably a virus or awful virus scanner.
     
  10. bazz2004

    bazz2004 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,232   +201

    Yes that seems quite likely. The system looks to have reasonable power.
     
  11. Mike72

    Mike72 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I was afraid you'd say that. I've been avoiding looking at new systems because, firstly, it's a big investment of not only money, but time, and secondly, my brother has advised me to buy a Mac. Now I have nothing against Apple, but I've always found it as a bit of a closed system and even now I find that a lot of the programs I have or want to have do not have Mac versions. Also, I'm not used to it.
    But back to the point, if I am to eventually buy a new PC, is there anything I should watch out for? Like, e.g., which parts I should pay more attention to. I know now that CPU is definitely one of them, because it's quite difficult to replace.
    And as for the virus: I apologize for having blown up the percentages (I swear I did it unintentionally :p). It was probably only maxing somewhere around 30%, and definitely due to overheat. The valves on my radiator glitched and even though I thought I closed them, they were only stuck in a semi-open state. Plus, I didn't really leave the PC on at the time for more than 15 mins, meaning it was still cooling down when I came back. After cleaning up the hardware and software it's now usually around 5% on idle. I'll still rescan it with a few online utilities though, I have bad experiences with malware on my laptop.

    Again, thanks for all the feedback! I feel I'm finally getting somewhere with this.
     
  12. bazz2004

    bazz2004 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,232   +201

    I'm no use for info on buying a new PC. The only new hardware I've bought in recent years is an iPad Air 2 and I'm having fun with that. I have a few Windows computers and they all work fine for me even with modest specs. I don't use any for games. The most recent is a dual core Windows 7 desktop. Even my Samsung netbook isn't too bad after I upgraded it with an SSD drive and 2Gb of ram. I agree that Apple kit comes with a scarey price tag.
     
  13. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,435   +145

    It sounds like the only thing you need to pay attention to is that it has an ssd.
     
  14. bazz2004

    bazz2004 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,232   +201

    I've certainly been very impressed with the results on the laptop and netbook that I installed ssd drives on. The prices these days for say a 250Gb drive are no big problem.
     
  15. Mike72

    Mike72 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    So drive type, got it. I'm very grateful for all this information. It'll take a while before I can take time to focus on my PC again, but all this will come in very handy. Thank you. :)
    I consider my issue resolved, so from now on I generally won't bother to reply to new posts. Tag with [closed] or equivalent.
     

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