We help IT Professionals succeed at work.

Will a quad-core solve this?

fischermx asked
So, I am multitasking. Really multitasking, but my computer seems to be always behind me.
I currently have a Dell Dimension 9200, Core2 Duo 2.6Ghz and 4Gb of RAM, 500GB WD hard disk.
I thought it was a fast machine, but sometimes, it does not keep my pace. I have Windows XP Pro.

For example. I open Visual Studio 2005, then open a project and press run(F5) then, immediatly after, I click the start menu and....... wait a minute, why I can't even get the list of programs fast enough? Is that too much to ask?
Also, I have SQL Server 2005 Express installed here. I set it up to use just 512Mb of RAM so, it does not take all my machine to it (thought it can take just 1Gb max by limitation). When I run some queries, I want to keep working on other stuff and the computer really slows down.

I wonder if a Quad-Core processor would avoid me this kind of lags.

PS. I manually shut down most of the process that an average person kept running without need. So, I have no services to shut down.

Watch Question

Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Probably not... what I would suggest is to analyze WHY the system is slow.  Use Performance Monitor/System Monitor to track system performance.  Then review it and determine where your bottleneck is.  Strictly speaking, for the first thing I would do is replace your hard drive.  I suspect it's a 7200 SATA drive.  I'd get AT LEAST a WD Raptor or, if performance is that much of a concern, possibly even install a 15K RPM SAS drive.  You could even consider an SSD drive (flash hard drive).  

BUT, that may not be it.  It may be something else... Maybe RAM utilization.  Processors tend to sit idle most of the time.  And most apps aren't multithreaded.  It COULD be processor... or something else... but unless you don't care about spending money, then I suggest you try to narrow down your performance issues properly.  
You'll find that the bottleneck is often not your processor, but rather your hard drive.

Both visual studio and the start menu are requesting data from the hard drive. If the hard drive is busy on one application, the other must wait in line until it's request is served.

However, don't take my word for it. Use performance monitor to determine what your particular bottleneck is. Start->Run... and type PERFMON. You'll want to look at the following counters:

     Processor->% Processor Time
     PhysicaDisk->Avg Disk Disk Queue Length

And see which one is maxing out.

Ways to remedy the problem if it is your hard drive:
     - Get a faster hard drive (7200rpm, SATA)
     or if you already have that
     - Get a second hard drive in a striped RAID array (RAID0)
Actually in terms of hard drive performance, the best thing to do is look at TomsHardware.com's charts, and pick a superior hard drive:

maybe you have system configuration problems
whay anti virus are you running? (Norton remove and reinstall)
have you check for problems on the the hard disc?  (click on my computer, right clck on 'c Drive' select properies, select tool from the top and chekc the boxes and start.

right click on the task bar at the bottom and select 'task manager'
then check ion performance, keep an evey on it when you run the checkss


About disks, I was thinking about getting a new pair of 500Gb disks, but set them up as RAID1, I thought that would give me better read performance.
I really don't know how does it compare to a RAID0 regarding windows performance.

I don't have any antivirus running! (And no, I don't have a virus right now, I recognize them when I see them) Well, I have it, but it is all shutdown, I running just when I know I might need it.

May be I'm just getting older :( but weren't things supposed to feel "faster" due age? I'm getting the opposite effect, I'm becoming less patience...

Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

No, actually, with age, they are supposed to feel SLOWER.  

RAID 1 won't really improve read performance all that much.  Both sets of heads need to stay relatively in sync if they are to properly respond to the simultaneous write commands that it needs to.  A RAID 0 would be faster, but I don't recommend it except for "working" data.  I would prefer a RAID 10.  if you wanted RAID 0 speeds.  However, again, a faster 10K or 15K drive will significantly improve performance... at least of the disk.


OMG, I have a cheapo drive :(
I have this exactly WD5000KS,SATA300/NCQ,500 GB,16 MB and it's listed all the way down with a score of 58 :(
That's a good start.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

That's what I'm referring to - the 10K RPM VelociRaptor.  A 15K SAS drive (and a new controller as well) will perform better still.
Distinguished Expert 2019

I Instead of constructing some humming 4-drive-raid10 monster, I would (after looking into perfmon) recommend raid 0 and have a third external hd for backup.
don't forget to check your graphics card and bottle neck, specially if you are 'really multi tasking'
I assume you have some SLI enabled monster
Technology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013
I think RAID 0 is VERY UNWISE for a system you work on.  That system fails after you just spent 3 hours debugging a weird issue in an app, you will be screaming at the machine...

First, as was suggested earlier, determine what EXACTLY is your bottleneck.  If it IS disk, THEN consider your options.  
1.  Single 10K RPM disk
2.  Dual 10K RPM disks in a RAID 1
3.  Single 15K RPM SAS disk
4.  Dual 15K RPM SAS disks in a RAID 1
5.  A RAID 10 using either 2 or 4.
6.  An SSD (Solid State Disk).
8.  A RAM Disk like the Gigabyte device. (see: http://www.gigabyte.com.tw/Products/Storage/Products_Overview.aspx?ProductID=2180)
Note: #8 seems to be a "one of a kind" product and is not, apparently a "current" product on Gigabyte's web site, though I believe it is still sold.  I do not know the reliability of this device, but considering it's max size is 4 GB, you would have to be selective about what gets put on that drive.  Perhaps Windows itself and install everything elsewhere.

Now Disks are generally the SLOWEST major component in the system.  And I listed the above options in order of least to greatest improvement in disk performance.  
Distinguished Expert 2019

Ok leew, you almost asked for a response ;)
Data security in terms of harddisk lifetime is shrinking to about the half from single disk to raid0, right. But having aan adequate backup strategy is the thing. So I recommended an extra external disk which does not regain the same security against hd failure as having a raid 10 but is by far more secure then having a single disk like he has now - and you don't have the noise that 4 drives might be producing but 2 drives that are nearly as fast.

And: a raid 10 would also need to be backuped and I don't hope anyone doubts that. There are more dangers to data than just hard disk failure - accidential deleteion, data corruption, viruses, and a corrupt OS.

So, why is that very unwise, please.
Distinguished Expert 2019

Oh, if anyone cares about numbers, "the harddisk lifetime is shrinking to about the half" is not exactly it, I should have said, the probability of the raid failing about the lifetime of the computer is about double the prob. of a computer with a single drive.


Interesting product that of RAM Hard Disk from Gigabyte.... but wondering why it is limited to 4Gb !?
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

McKnife... I'm guessing you never saw my web page on backup

My point is that because you are doubling your chances of failure with a RAID 0, you'll be even more frustrated should the RAID 0 fail while you are working on a project.