Upgrading 3.33GHz 512MB RAM Windows XP PC

By eriley1987
Mar 20, 2013
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  1. Hi all,

    I have an eMachines W3503 3.33 Ghz 512 MB RAM Windows XP Media Center 2005 PC (bought in 2005-2006ish). It's not my regular computer, it's my old computer that is at my parent's house. I visit them every 3-4 months depending on my schedule, so those are the only times that I am on this PC. I do not game or do heavy, intensive type things. I am a full time nurse and part time student, so the majority of what I do is browsing the internet, Microsoft Word documents for homework, email, etc. I don't stream music, videos, or any other type of media.

    I'd like to make this computer work a little faster, if possible. I know there is controversy over upgrading the RAM in older computers, so I'm wondering if my situation would benefit from that at all. To even click the start menu you can hear the computer crunching and it really gets on my nerves. Switching tabs in Google Chrome loads slowly from top to bottom... like I'm trying to load a large photo from Google Image Search. Aside from all that, I don't see a need to purchase a whole new computer simply for 1-2 weeks usage for 3-4 times per year. If this is the best speed this computer can do, I can put up with it, however if there is anything I can do with the RAM, that would be nice, as well.

    I deleted a lot of programs in the Add/Remove Programs list, ran a registry fix, and changed some settings on how things load in the computer. I really don't want to change the visual to the classic mode. I did a scan with Crucial System Scanner and it located my 512 MB of DDR RAM and suggested 2 GB of DDR (PC2700 or PC3200) RAM 184-pin DIMM. I have Amazon Prime free shipping and found Komputerbay 2GB (2x1GB) DDR DIMM (184 PIN) 400 Mhz PC 3200 for $34.99 with free shipping. This seems like a fairly cheap upgrade (also advertises a lifetime warranty, not sure how legit that is), but I'm concerned that it will actually help and also be compatible.

    Suggestions and thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
  2. JC713

    JC713 TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 6,097   +724

    Upgrading the RAM is probably the only solution for such a dated PC. I would say upgrade to Windows 7, but that will set you back $100 bucks and it wont run that fast on such an old PC. I would say go with Crucial RAM, they have good support and good quality. Go for either one of these:
    http://www.amazon.com/Crucial-PC320...&keywords=2 GB of DDR PC3200 RAM 184-pin DIMM
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231039
  3. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TechSpot Paladin Posts: 5,067   +1,180

    Looks as if the eMachine W3502 and W3503 uses the same motherboard. Look at the motherboard next time you have the opportunity, and see if it is labeled D101GGC

    My eMachine W3502 came with Celeron D 3.2GHz and 512MB DDR-400 memory. The machine does run better with 1GB of memory.
    • I'm not sure if you are interested in upgrading the CPU, which will double your performance. It took a little research and a jump in faith to try a Pentium D 820, but I can say the Pentium D 815 and 820(currently $5 on eBay) will work on the motherboard. Please note do not get the 900 series Pentium D as they are not supported. If you do decide to switch out CPU's, remember to use new thermal compound for the heatsink.
    • The motherboard does not support dual channel mode, so any stick of DDR-400 memory should work fine. That is if you have an additional free memory slot. Mine came with a single 512MB module, which left another empty slot.
    • You may not be interested in a full scale upgrade, but the original IDE HDD in my machine was a bit of a bottle neck. Upgrading the hard drive doubled my performance considerably as well.
    With all this said, I think every dollar could be better spent on newer hardware. But if you can find the upgrades for little to nothing, there really is nothing to loose.
  4. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 3,197   +555

    Buy the RAM and defragment your hard drive. Any more than $50 spent on this is a waste.
  5. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] I'm a TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 4,257   +110

    Yes I suggest that you try a defrag first especially if you haven't.
  6. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 12,250   +214

    I haven't really dealt with branded PCs in a decade, at least not in the way I'm going to talk/ask about in what follows. So, this may not be a real option (or even legal?), but here is an angle worth thinking about (and maybe fellow TSers can fill in the legality and feasibility parts).

    Backup anything important, probably not much since the computer gets infrequent use. Go to eMachines website, download the latest drivers for pretty much everything they offer a driver for, for your model. Save that to a USB stick or something other than the computer itself.

    Get ahold of an OEM install disk of 2005 XP MCE. How you go about this is your business, torrenting would work, but what you are looking for is an OEM install (at least for what I'm describing).

    Boot from that XP MCE disk, begin the install, do the advanced setup or whatever seems advanced, I forget how it goes in XP. Custom install maybe. Whatever allows you to deal with the partitions. Delete them ALL. So you only have unpartitioned space. Choose that to install XP on.

    Continue the XP install (it will create the partition for you and format it for you (NTFS is better than FAT32 if you are presented a choice)). Use your XP MCE install key that is on a sticker on that computer.

    Now you have a clean install, which is likely going to fix quite a bit of that slowness.

    My point is, with a bit of time, you can probably make it faster for free. That system wasn't terribly slow when you got it right? Hell, maybe it was, but if so it was likely because of all the bloat eMachines included with it, which we just bypassed with an OEM XP MCE install disk.

    concerns as to what I described...
    * If you aren't connecting through a router, a virgin XP install, even MCE is probably going to have some bad exploits. NAT that a router provides will probably keep you safe enough long enough that you can just windows update yourself and be fine. Without a router though, I'd be sure you got some type of software firewall up. Maybe XP's software firewall is good enough out of the box in XP MCE 2005? Personally, I'd take the chance that it is and just update on windowsupdate as soon as I could, but I feel I should at least mention that you should consider a 3rd party firewall before connecting an unupdated system like that to the net.
    * Not sure how you can obtain an OEM XP MCE install without just knowing someone or torrenting.. (or already having it yourself)
    JC713 likes this.
  7. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 3,197   +555

    Seems like legit info/suggestion to me, SNGX1275
  8. eriley1987

    eriley1987 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Hi all,

    Thanks so much for your replies and suggestions. I had an extremely interesting night tonight. As suggested, I did not want to spend a lot of money on RAM, so I ended up going with the no-name 2X 1GB RAM. I bought it yesterday and got it today via UPS for $38.99. I already defragged my computer and deleted all the programs that I did not need. I did the 400 Mhz PC 3200 RAM. I unhooked everything from the computer, made sure I was grounded, and went to work on taking out the old and putting in the new. I finished, and when I tried to turn the computer on, it wouldn't do anything. I freaked out thinking I wasn't grounded properly and that I had fried my computer. I ended up calling my Mom's boyfriend who is a huge computer nerd. He had me to unplug the computer completely, wait a few minutes, and try again. Still nothing. So then he asked if I had actually secured the RAM sticks in appropriately. I thought I had. Then he offered to bring me a computer he doesn't need for free. It's an AMD dual core something or other with 2 GB of RAM and Windows 7. I said absolutely, I love free stuff!

    Anyways, I was in pity that I had fried the computer. Then I decided to play around with it some more since it was already broken. I put the old RAM stick back in and to my surprise it turned on. I thought maybe the RAM sticks I had bought were bad or something. So I looked at them closely and realized... here's the kicker part and everyone will hit their heads saying "Doh..." that I had put the RAM sticks in BACKWARDS. I read previously that doing that WILL fry the computer, but I decided to try putting them in the right way just to see. I did this, and the computer turned on.

    So, I'm writing to you guys from my same computer with brand new 1.85 GB RAM instead of 368 MB. The computer is quite a bit more snappy and so far seems to be what I was hoping for. My Mom and her boyfriend are still bringing me the computer tomorrow, though. The power supply in this current one could go out anytime as I've read that's common with eMachines and like I said before, I like free stuff!

    Replacing the motherboard and downloading torrents are quite a bit over my non-computer geek head, unfortunately... as you can tell as I put the sticks in backwards. I don't think I will ever totally forgive myself for making such a newbie mistake. However, it's all good in the end. New RAM and a newer-ish computer on the way for back-up.
  9. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 3,197   +555

    Haha, good story. :D Hope you learned something new! Glad nothing actually got fried.


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