Sluggish CPU Usage

By Jakethe8lf ยท 11 replies
Nov 12, 2008
  1. My system is terribly, terribly slow when it shouldn't be.

    Boot up takes between 1 to 3 minutes, BIOS to desktop jingle. Opening say MSN and Firefox at the same time stutters the system. Games are unplayable due to performance lag.

    At first, I thought it might've been my video card killing the games. Changed that with an up to date card, as well as adding RAM for my out-of-gaming performance issues.

    No change. I switched out my Athlon 4400 X2 with an Athlon 6000 X2. Somehow even slower.

    I have, of course, defragged and checked extensively for spyware and its brethren. All clean.

    My drives are defragged and my bootup programs are essentially barebones.

    My hardware:

    AMD Athlon 6000 X2
    ASUS M2N-MX SE mobo
    EGS GeForce 9600 GT 512mb
    2GB 667mhz RAM (Apogee and Seagate)
    80 gig Maxtor IDE Master
    250 gig Maxtor SATA Slave
    250 gig unknown brand IDE Slave
    Generic 550w Power Supply

    I have Windows XP Pro SP3 as my OS.
  2. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    Most likely, you need to get rid of teh Maxtors... they fail early and often slow down before they do. Mixing SATA and PATA drives is not usually a big problem, but it is not helpful either. I would want all three drives to be SATA for speed considerations.
    I would also immediately upgrade the Power Supply to something known and trusted.
    But you are pushing the memory as well.
    Have you used some of the best infestation software. You might want to try the very good online scan by Kaspersky, and Spyware Doctor's as well. Then SuperAntiSpyware and MalwareBytes for another look at what is lurking on your drives.
  3. Jakethe8lf

    Jakethe8lf TS Rookie Topic Starter

    The 80 gig Maxtor is a few years old now, but both 250 gig HDs are barely a year old.

    Wikipedia (great source, I know) says that IDE hard drives are faster than SATA2 drives, so I don't know why you would want them all SATA. Besides, the mobo only has two SATA ports, and they're occupied by one the the hard drives and my DVD burner.

    I popped open my rig and Usicase is the manufacturer of the power supply. I don't know anything about them. I've never had problems with it.

    I don't know how I'm pushing the memory, 2 gigs is a decent amount and it is DDR2.

    I use AVG 8 Free Edition and Spybot S&D for my anti-virus.
  4. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    You may have the problem with it now. Wow?
    The power supply is junk. The Maxtors are exceeded only by Hitachi for early failures and slow performance.
    AVG 8.o is not something we like to use on speedy systems.
    Mix and Match SATA and IDE slows down everything to the slowest unit of the bunch. IDE drives by Maxtor are NOT faster than SATA drives. SATA drives are significantly faster in our tests and usage. Maxtors do not test out as fast hard drives.
    So you are proud of everything you have but wonder why it is sluggish?
  5. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +421

    I don't know what to tell you if you have checked for malware and aren't intentionally making a bunch of stuff load up at startup. But I will tell you that there is no hardware reason I know of for why you should be expierencing this.

    There has been a bit of debate amoungst members here on the ability to mix IDE and SATA drives, I think a majority of us believe there are no issues. So naturally I'm going to have to go against Raybay's concern about mixing them.

    Your PSU may well be crap, but PSU issues will not cause slow down problems. The PSU provides voltage and current (amperage) to components. Having a weak CPU will cause instability, it will not cause slowness.

    Was your system always this slow? Or is it recent?
  6. Justin

    Justin TS Rookie Posts: 942

    Ok so where to start

    First off, I suggest you stop listening to raybay in this thread. He is leading you in all the wrong directions.

    Now, mr jake, I have some questions. I am sure we can find the cause of your woes. We don't have enough information yet, so it could be hardware or software. I'll give you some suggestions, but also would like answers to some questions:

    1) What drive does your OS boot off? One of the IDE drives or the SATA drive?
    2) What DMA mode are your IDE drives in? You can find this out by opening up Device Manager and going to the properties of your IDE controllers. In there it'll tell you the current transfer mode. Check to make sure it is not in PIO Mode. If an IDE drive is in PIO mode, it can cause the extreme slowness you are experiencing.
    3) Have you used Bootvis yet to determine if there's anything in particular slowing your boot process? If not, you can download Bootvis from Microsoft's site. Let it run through 5 reboots or so and post your data here. It'll tell you what exactly is taking the longest at startup. It's possible you may have a stuck or slow-starting service that is slowing your boot time.
    4) Just because you've scanned your computer doesn't mean it's clean for sure. For the sake of argument, I would suggest you, at least temporarily, completely un-install AVG along with any software firewalls you have. Then, see if you notice any speed change.
    5) After 4, I'd like you to do another scan with another A/V suite, such as Avast!. You're of course welcome to switch back to AVG - this is just out of curiousity.
    6) After a fresh boot, open up Task Manager and give us a process list of every process that is running, paying attention to capitalization and spelling, after boot. Make sure you tick the "Show processes from all users" option
    7) Do you remember a time recently when the system wasn't slow? Do you remember a specific change or a series of changes that led up to the system becoming slow?

    I have more questions, but at the moment I'm a bit feverish so let's just go with what we have now.

    Also, so you know, by default a SATA drive will have speed advantages over a comparable IDE drive, particularly if the drive, board and OS all support AHCI, so they have access to SCSI/SATA unique features such as NCQ.

    1) I want you to show statistics that show Maxtor drives failing more often than Hitachi drives. What you "know" is not evidence enough. Show proof. Now, I don't disagree that Maxtor drives are terrible. But you're giving too much opinion for a problem that is rooted in fact, not speculation.

    2) Mixing SATA and IDE HAS NO EFFECT ON THE SPEED OF THE RESPECTIVE DRIVES. None whatsoever. What you are mistakenly referring to was the earlier days of Master/Slave PATA in which devices communicating on a shared PATA bus were required to do such at the the lowest synced speed of all the devices on it. ALL SATA devices have their own, independant channel limited only by the I/O Bus, which is either 150MB/s or 300MB/s based on whether you are using SATA or SATA II.

    3) Don't berate him for being proud of his hardware.
  7. Jakethe8lf

    Jakethe8lf TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I'm not proud of my hardware, I'm buying the best I can afford, while being unemployed.

    And yes, at one point, my old 4400 was fine running, but sometime last year it the boot times just expanded and everything became just noticeably slow.

    1). Windows boots off my IDE drive, the 80 gig one. Its about 3 and a half years old.
    2). It says 'Transfer Mode: DMA if available' and 'Current Transfer mode: PIO mode'. The only other alternative for the drop-down box in 'Transfer Mode' is 'PIO only'.
    3). No I haven't, I wasn't aware such a thing existed. Good idea.
    4). Tried that. No difference.
    5). I might give Kapersky a shot unless you can think of a reason to avoid it.
    6). Around 29-31 programs upon bootup.
    7). My last Windows format was 2 and a half years ago. Since then I've had multiple hardware upgrades. It started getting slower last year, probably due to a space being taken up on the drive or drive aging. I didn't think it would take this much of a performance hit, though.
  8. Justin

    Justin TS Rookie Posts: 942

    Guess what - you've just found your problem. I guarantee you that is the source of 90% of your slowness. What we need to do is determine why that drive is in PIO mode as opposed to DMA mode. This will require you to get into your BIOS. Are you comfortable with that?
  9. Jakethe8lf

    Jakethe8lf TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I've been into my BIOS to have a look at some options with it.

    PIO mode options are Auto, 4, 8, etc. I'm backing up my C drive in case something goes goofy.

    I've been getting lag in the BIOS, too. I don't think the hard drive drive is causing that.
  10. Justin

    Justin TS Rookie Posts: 942

    Could you describe your "BIOS lag" ?

    Also, do you see an option for enable or disabling DMA mode for your hard drive in the BIOS? That, in particular, is what you're looking for here.
  11. Jakethe8lf

    Jakethe8lf TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Just as the GUI loads it noticable as the new pixels appear line after line.

    Also the options for PIO are Auto, 0, 1, 2 ,3 , 4. Not what I said before I confused it with something else.
  12. Justin

    Justin TS Rookie Posts: 942

    Ok. That's also a problem. That sounds like a serious issue with your motherboard, RAM or CPU at this point. It sounds to me like the root of your problem may be deeper than just BIOS config and may be actually the motherboard itself.

    In the meantime, are there any UDMA options for your HDD in BIOS?
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